DR. Recruitnik Sez: Analyze This
1. Randy Gradishar
2. Tom Cousineau
3. Marcus Marek
4. Pepper Johnson
5. Steve Tovar
6. Chris Spielman
7. Craig Powell
8. Na'il Diggs
10. Jerry Rudzinski (of course)
And now, Matt Wilhelm. Who will be the next to wear the All-American linebacker mantle at OSU? We have a number of good applicants on this year's Buckeye squad including AJ Hawk, Mike D'Andrea, Bobby Carpenter and Turbo Reynolds. Plus, let's not rule out Stan White Jr. too soon since he has yet to either see the field or assert his ultimate playing position.
With this seeming wealth of talent (and relative youth…), are we fully stocked at the True Linebacker U.? Not hardly…If Stan White plays either fullback or tight end, that leaves just three linebackers after Reynolds is gone; and all three will be juniors in that year. One interesting walk-on will appear next year as Corporal Cliff Reynolds changes his Marine uniform to scarlet and gray. But you can't just insert him into the "needs filled" department.
Another fascinating melodrama playing out is the unique case of John Kerr, who quit Indiana after a good freshman season and is announcing on February 13 where he will transfer. Kerr has always felt he was better in high school than D'Andrea and was slighted that OSU didn't go after him. Is he competitive enough to walk on and forego a free college ride elsewhere? Or is he slated to Notre Dame, as the Domers would have you believe? Could be a story here…
And I won't even fan the flames of the Buster Davis story again!
With linebackers, you have to consider that big safeties can move "up" to the position and that big linebackers can move "up" to defensive end. Mike Kudla moved to DE and Redgie Arden could end up as a TE, DE or back in the linebacker group. And for the sake of full disclosure, once again, there is a group of walk-ons already at OSU. One is Jason Bond, who earned a schollie and will be a senior next year. Others include Joe Bradley (freshman) and Dante Hinton (sophomore).
So, let's take our inventory: Matt Wilhelm and Cie Grant depart this year, leaving huge shoes to fill. The guys with the biggest feet seem to be AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter with Mike D'Andrea coming on. They will all be sophomores next season. Robert Reynolds will be a senior, as will Pat O'Neill and Fred Pagac. The latter two are good for depth and special teams but won't make anyone forget about Wilhelm or Grant.
Who are we looking at as longer-term successors? Dr. R is dead solid certain that Reggie Smith from Cleveland will be a Buckeye as long as he qualifies academically. Don't worry if Reggie doesn't have D'Andrea-type hype. This kid is a late bloomer and should be special. We were in on Tavares Gooden until last week when he committed to Miami. And we are in on Wesley Jefferson (arguably one of the best three high school LB's in the country) but he might end up at Miami or his native Maryland. Who else? Ali Highsmith and Mark Washington are names we have on "the board" but they are medium-to-long-shots at best.
And, of course, there is the special case of Prescott Burgess. The much-coveted Warren Harding star says he wants to play strong safety but he seems to be inevitably drifting "up" to OLB. Unfortunately, the rumor mill has him drifting up to Michigan, as well. But Duane Long has been steadfast in his resolve that Burgess will bring his considerable talents to OSU, in the end.
Peering slightly farther into the future, two very special kids are coming on in Ohio: Marcus Freeman from Huber Heights Wayne and Chad Hoobler from Carrollton. Both are Top-Five-in-the-state talents regardless of positions, but Hoobler's college position will probably be DL.
Now that we've gotten all that out of the way…
Dr. Recruitnik sez: We have one star-in-the-blooming in the relatively obscure Reggie Smith, as long as academic qualifications don't block him. OSU is all over Prescott Burgess, who eventually should play as an LB. Both Burgess and Wesley Jefferson are so special that you take them regardless of particular needs. Jefferson, however, projects as going to Maryland or Miami. Lastly, the John Kerr story could be the best feel-good fable of this recruiting season. We have to wait another six weeks, though, to see how that unfolds. With 2-3 new troops (any of the above combination) this year and 2-3 more next year, Linebacker U. will maintain its rightful home and heritage in Columbus.
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