February 2, 2012

Buckeyes strengthen the pass rush

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Perhaps the most impressive part about Ohio State’s 2012 recruiting class is the way that Urban Meyer and his coaching staff stocked up on outstanding prospects at areas of need. On the defensive side of the ball this past season, a glaring weakness was the lack of a pass rush. Meyer and company certainly look to have upgraded things on that front, landing three of the premier defensive ends in the nation.



“The area that we didn't have, I think that's why these kids wanted to come, we're down in sacks,” Meyer said. “You don't want to have to blitz every time you want pressure. Coach Fickell and I talked about it. To get pressure, you don't want to have to bring five every time. You want to recruit guys that put their tails up in the air and go. (John) Simon and Nate Williams are going to be gone. They're seniors. We have them one more year. It's a perfect time to come in for a defensive end.”



The first of the three outstanding prospects to enter the class was Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft five-star prospect Adolphus Washington. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound prospect committed shortly before Meyer was hired back in November. One thing that has Meyer excited about Washington, is the competitive nature and athleticism that Washington shows on the basketball floor.



“Basketball is a great evaluator,” Meyer said. “Adolpus Washington, had a chance to watch him play basketball. Very impressive. I don't know how he shoots, I don't really care. I just watched the way he plays, bangs, moves guys around. I like to see a guy's face. He's very upset when it doesn't go his way.”


Co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell is also well aware of Washington’s prowess on the basketball floor.


“Adolpus Washington, he's a guy that plays basketball probably nine months out of the year and only football for a few months,” Fickell explained. “So what his potential is when he hits the weight room, gets down to one sport, he's a 250-pound guy right now. Who knows what he'll look like in a year or two. I think he could be a guy that could play either side as an end.”


About a month after Washington pulled the trigger, it was another five-star prospect that entered the fray in Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt product Noah Spence.


“Noah Spence is probably little bit more of a linebacker size, 230, 240 pounds, probably a guy that is a true speed guy,” Fickell said.


While Washington had been a target for Ohio State for well over a year before committing, things with Spence moved much more quickly.


“We picked up the phone and spoke to Noah Spence the night I was hired and within two weeks he is over buying Ohio State gear over at the bookstore,” Meyer said. “It was cool to be a part of that.”


The last piece of the puzzle was Canton (Ohio) McKinley four-star prospect Se’von Pittman. Considered a heavy Ohio State lean early in the process, Pittman opted for Michigan State over the summer due to the instability around the Ohio State program at the time.



“Se'Von Pittman is a guy who is a 225-pound guy, a junior in high school that looked like an outside backer type of guy, now is 265-pound guy that is continuing to grow,” Fickell said.”Where his growth potential is I have no idea. The thing you see with Se'Von and Adolpus is the versatility. Everybody wants to be an end, wants to be a rush guy. I think that's one of the things we had to focus on, is finding guys with speed. They do have that. Who knows in a year or two exactly what they'll do.”



While recruiting is an inexact science, lofty ratings aside, Meyer sees a lot of potential out of this group of defensive ends and is determined to keep up the tradition of outstanding defensive line play at Ohio State.



“You talk about Florida, (but) there's defensive linemen all over the place,” Meyer said. “We have a few here. Defensive line is our strength. Ohio State's tradition is a big part of why those kids came, too. To be a part of what's been done here for the last 10 years. I looked at it one time, the last 10 years, we are in the top 10 in defense almost every year. We coached against Ohio State, it's traditionally a strong defensive line unit.”






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