Leading the recruiting charge for Ohio State in the state of Virginia is wide receivers coach Zach Smith. His time as an assistant at Temple allowed him to establish connections and familiarity in the territory around Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C.
In their short stint at the helm of the 2012 recruiting cycle, Urban Meyer and his staff did not sign any prospects from Virginia. The 2013 class was also void of any Virginia recruits despite their early efforts in the pursuit of five-star running back Derrick Green. The Buckeyes were always in good position to land Green but called off the dogs due to limited space and because of the early verbal they received from fellow running back Ezekiel Elliott.
The 2014 class has already brought Zach Smith and the Buckeyes more luck recruiting Virginia. Ohio State recently received the verbal pledge from Norfolk, Virginia defensive end Jalyn Holmes. The 6-foot-5, 235 pound pass rusher from Lake Taylor High School committed to the Buckeyes after visiting for the first time. Assistant Zach Smith was able to kick-start Ohio State's momentum with the four-star prospect and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel joined in leading to the victory on the trail for the Buckeyes.
Aside from Holmes, Ohio State has seen their persistence in the state begin to blossom in the 2014 class. Though only one commit has joined the fray, a few other prospects have traveled to Columbus to check out the program, including defensive back C.J. Reavis and five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand. Other prospects that had interest in Ohio State were five-star safety Quin Blanding, five-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown, and four-star defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
Though they have received a bit of interest and some nibbles from the other prospects just mentioned, I expect Holmes to be the lone Virginia native in the 2014 class.
Looking ahead, here's a few 2015 prospects from Virginia that Ohio State already has their sights set on.
Jaason Lewis – The Virginia Beach (VA) Ocean Lakes wide receiver was offered by Ohio State nearly two months ago and has interest in the Buckeyes. One little detail to pay attention to here is the relationship Lewis has with current Ohio State commit Jalyn Holmes. The two are close and it could help out the Buckeyes' chances if they decide to pursue the 2015 wideout aggressively.
Ricky DeBerry – The Richmond (VA) St. Christopher's School linebacker already holds several big-time offers from the likes of Ohio State, Auburn, Clemson, Oklahoma, Miami, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, UCLA, and USC. The 6-foot-3, 235 pound rising junior has already taken a few visits but has yet to schedule one to Columbus to see the Buckeyes.
Garrett Taylor – Taylor is a high school teammate of DeBerry's and has a sensational offer list to his credit as well. A few of the bigger scholarship offers that have come in for Taylor include Clemson, Ole Miss, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, and Tennessee. The 6-foot-1, 187 pound talented corner will be a prospect to watch amongst the 2015 prospects.
Jahvoni Simmons – A teammate of Jaason Lewis, the 6-foot-1, 230 pound Simmons has a chance to be among the best linebackers in the 2015 class. He was offered by Ohio State the same night as Lewis, DeBerry, and Taylor and holds other offers, which include North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.
Matthew Burrell – At 6-foot-6 and 270 pounds Burrell has ideal size for an offensive tackle that has yet to enter his junior year of high school. The Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton offensive lineman currently holds offers from the likes of Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Notre Dame, Penn State, South Carolina, and Wisconsin in addition to Ohio State.
Tim Settle – The Manassas (VA) Stonewall Jackson defensive tackle could be a very highly rated prospect in the 2015 class and has already taken an unofficial visit to Ohio State. The Buckeyes hosted Settle the day before he participated in the Nike football training camp in Columbus, Ohio. Along with his Ohio State offer, the 6-foot-3, 307 pound Settle holds offers from other programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, South Carolina, UCLA, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. Settle grew up liking the Buckeyes and Ohio State is in great shape early on in his recruitment.
Clelin Ferrell – The 6-foot-5, 225 pound defensive end does not hold an offer from the Buckeyes but it would not surprise me to see Ohio State throw their hat into the ring for Ferrell at some point. The Richmond (VA) Benedictine rising junior has already landed offers from Clemson, Iowa, North Carolina, Marshall, Penn State, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. He has been receiving mail from the Buckeyes and has mentioned Ohio State being one of his three dream schools, along with Florida and LSU.