Scouting the freshmen - Defense

In the first issue of Bucknuts the Magazine, Duane Long gives his thoughts on the freshmen on offense on this year's Buckeye team. We hoped to get Duane's thoughts on the defensive players in there as well, but we could not squeeze it in. We have his thoughts on those players today.

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 hoped.

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.

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