I also like to throw RS freshman Connor Crowell into that group since a leg injury prevented him from practicing last year as a part of the 2011 class.
Despite the quality freshmen group, there are still concerns moving forward- particularly with experienced depth.
Once seniors Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein graduate after this season, rising juniors Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant will be the only scholarship linebackers left on the team with any meaningful experience- outside of whatever the group of freshmen gain in their first year.
This is largely due to the early and unplanned departures of players like Dorian Bell (transfer), Jonathan Newsome (transfer), Jordan Whiting (transfer), Scott McVey (medical hardship) and Ejuan Price (never enrolled).
Thanks to these departures, the 2012 class (plus Crowell) will be thrown into the fire immediately.
Based on history and the laws of probability, some youngsters will become stars and make an instant impact, some will be solid contributors, and some may not be with the program within a few years.
What does it all mean? Well, that was basically just a long way of saying that the search for talent at linebacker continues in the 2013 class and depth is still a concern that needs to be addressed.
Right now, it looks like the Buckeyes will take around 3 linebackers in 2013. None are currently committed.
Here is a look at the top prospects on the board.
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Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney
Courtney Love is the only Ohio player on the board with a listed offer (after Ben Gedeon’s recent commitment to Michigan).
Although he is only rated as a 3-star by the recruiting services, he boasts offers from the likes of Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Nebraska among others.
This is an impressive list, particularly given that everyone with a Youngstown connection- namely Stoops, Pelini and Meyer- have offered.
Nebraska is the #2 team, which isn’t surprising given Pelini’s connection to Cardinal Mooney.
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Indianapolis (IN) Warren Central
Although Tim Kimbrough does not have a listed offer at this time, according to Buckeye Planet insiders, he will have one in the near future and will commit to the Buckeyes shortly after.
He boasts an extremely impressive offer list in addition to his stellar service rankings, making him a great addition to the class if the cards do fall as some insiders expect them to.
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Wyomissing (PA) Area HS
Alex Anzalone’s recruitment blew up in the past several months as elite offers from across the country poured in for him.
Although he boasts well over 20 offers at this point, his decision is expected to come down to Ohio State, Florida, Penn State and Notre Dame.
Anzalone recently put off a trip to Gainesville (where his dad went to college and his grandparents live) and has decided to attend Ohio State’s spring game this weekend rather than similar events in South Bend and Happy Valley.
Needless to say, this is a huge development for Ohio State and the chances have seemingly increased dramatically for the good guys in this recruitment.
Stay tuned for further updates on this weekend’s big Spring Game recruiting news from tBBC on Thursday (sneak preview- Joey Bosa might be making an appearance).
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Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers
Scout ranks Jaylon Smith as the #1 outside linebacker in the nation. Not surprisingly, he is near the top of the list of “wants” for most Buckeye fans.
Smith’s older brother Rod is a current member of Ohio State’s roster, who he relies on for advice during the recruiting process. This is seen by most as a positive for the Buckeyes.
However, many observers feel that Notre Dame will be difficult to beat.
Regardless of the current favorite, Ohio State will be in this one until the end. If Ohio State pushes the LB class to four, it would be for a guy like Smith to come on board.
Or… the Kimbrough (perhaps even Love) offer might be contingent on how the staff feels about their chances with Smith- but that is purely speculation on my part.
Anzalone, Kimbrough, Smith and Love are my top four players on the LB board.
Landing three of those four would be an outstanding class… if there is room for all four that wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
Anzalone and Smith are players you take no matter what.
Love and Kimbrough, on the other hand, may have to wait to see where the chips fall before joining- although, once again, that is purely speculation on my part.
It also wouldn’t be surprising if Love and Kimbrough (and, fingers crossed, Anzalone) were Buckeyes after this weekend- which would put that speculation to rest.
A dark horse to watch during summer camp is SC LB Devaris Brunson- who could help address any misses on the top four.
If I had to pick the class right now, Anzalone, Kimbrough and Love are clearly at the top, with Jaylon Smith as the wildcard that we wait on.