As impressive as the offensive stars are in this class, the defensive players
may be an even more impressive lot.
Quinn Pitcock simply put is the best defensive tackle prospect I have seen
since Chuck Jones. That goes back before Big Daddy Wilkinson and Trent Zenkiwicz
of Cleveland St. Ignatius. He is a powerhouse with great speed and agility. He
ran a 4.64 forty at 297 lbs, and the time was run after a 2 hour squat workout.
Good depth on the interior of the Buckeye defensive line will be the only thing
that keeps him on the bench this fall.
DE recruit Mike Kudla will not be on the bench this fall. He also falls into
the super freak category with a 510 lb bench to go with a 4.5 forty and a truly
amazing 4.00 shuttle time. The other 3 defensive linemen in this class are
grouped together so much their names have almost become one word. That is
because the same thing is said about Jay Richardson, Joel Penton and Tim
Schafer; they are big-framed players who can run. That has been a strategy of
the southern schools, where most of the top linemen have come from. Don't
worry about a position right now. Get these players who are naturally athletic
and who have the frames to fill out and find a position for them later. We have
already been given a glimpse of what to expect. All 3 had outstanding games in
the Ohio North-South All-Star game with Richardson and Penton especially
standing out, making Justin Zwick's debut in Columbus less than what everyone
Never have I seen a linebacker class like this one in Ohio. Avon Lake's
Mike D'Andrea tops the list. He was rated by most as the top LB prospect in
the country and the accolades are much deserved. He had over 140 tackles this
year despite a nagging injury and being the focal point of every team's
attack. Blockers were sent at him in waves. Lancaster's Bobby Carpenter was
not far behind. I remember thinking in January when everyone was calling this
Buckeye class no worse than the second-best class in the country that I would
always remember the one that got away if Carpenter was not part of this class.
That is how impressed I was with Carpenter. He was born to play strong side over
the tight end. As a junior at the Ohio State camp, Carpenter was so impressive
covering receivers that he worked as a cornerback at times at 6-3 and about 210.
His father is former NFL player Rob Carpenter.
Speaking of former NFL players, the son of another former NFL player, and a
former Buckeye, is a member of this class. Stan White Jr grew up in Baltimore
but never got away from his Buckeye roots. He is a fine linebacker prospect but
may be an even better tight end. It looks like he will be an LB at Ohio State
but wherever he ends up the Buckeyes got a great prospect. The one overlooked
player in this stellar LB class is Centerville's A.J. Hawk. I was very
frustrated about not being able to get him in the top 10 in Ohio last year. He
has averaged 150 tackles a year. Yes, I said, averaged. All he does is
make plays. In addition, he is the best FB I have seen in Ohio in some years. I
think he stays at LB but to get a player this good on the field the move to FB
is going to be considered.
The Buckeyes are in great need of corners and I am convinced that there is at
least one in this class who will help immediately. Hamilton's E.J. Underwood
is the best player that nobody is talking about. What I should say is that
nobody was talking about. After his performance in the north-south game, the
entire state is talking about him. He will be ready to play this fall and
don't be surprised if he is the first freshman to take the field for the
Buckeyes. I think he ends up in the starting lineup, if not for Texas Tech, then
certainly by midseason.
Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas sent the Buckeyes Nate Salley. All the talk about him was as a safety but I think he gets a shot at corner first. He played corner in high school and coach Dantonio likes the bigger corners. He could be a pleasant surprise. He has performed at a high level in Florida against top-drawer competition. Brandon Mitchell is a safety prospect from Georgia that the Buckeye staff is very excited about. Look for him to redshirt and be in the mix with the graduation of Mike Doss and Donnie Nickey after the 2002-2003 campaign. Michael Roberts is arguably the fastest player in this class. He is from Canada and arrived early. It is going to take him some time to adjust. I expect him to redshirt this year. Tyler Everett is a Canton McKinley product who is as good an athlete as there is in this class. It remains to be seen whether he has an impact at corner or safety.