COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football has run into its fair share of problems during the 2023 recruiting cycle, but locking down its borders hasn’t been one of them.
Ohio is home to seven players ranked in the top 300 nationally, most of which play positions of need in this cycle. All but one chose to stay home. Arvell Reese is the latest and final piece of that in-state puzzle for this cycle. Even if he’s the lowest-rated of the group, his decision may be the most significant long term.
Jim Tressel built one of the nation’s best programs during the 2000s, doing so with mostly home-grown products. Many of those impact players came from Glenville High School, which was cranking out Big Ten-level players every year during its heyday. Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Cardale Jones and Marshon Lattimore highlight the list of players on that pipeline, although they are hardly the only names on it.
But that pipeline’s been non-existent for much of the last decade since Lattimore and Erik Smith showed up in 2014. Some of that’s because OSU took more of a national approach to recruiting under Urban Meyer, but also because the talent wasn’t the same . That may start to change in the coming cycles starting with Reese and 2024 defensive back target Bryce West.
“We definitely take pride in it,” West told cleveland.com. “We all want to get the same offers. We all grind the same. We push each other. We’re trying to rebuild a pipeline between Glenville and Ohio State.”
That idea is about what the future holds for OSU. The immediate solution Reese brings is as the first linebacker commit of the Knowles era.
Knowles has always been known more as a schemer than as a recruiter, but that doesn’t take the sting out of how linebacker recruiting has gone in 2023. Ohio State lost out on top 100 recruits Troy Bowles and Tackett Curtis last month after both took official visits in June. Bowles choosing Georgia didn’t come as much of a surprise, but Curtis choosing USC did. His relationship with Knowles went back to his time at Oklahoma State, and for much of the past six months only felt like a matter of time before he’d close the deal.
Instead, OSU was left with no linebacker commits at the end of July, emphasizing that even though Reese’s recruitment started to blow up, he still ended up in Columbus. That job has been accomplished, landing a player with a potentially high ceiling though still considered a raw talent.
Credit should also be given to running backs coach Tony Alford and senior advisor and analyst Matt Guerrieri, who also played a role in this recruitment.
Switching to a 4-2-5 defensive scheme means the Buckeyes can take fewer linebackers annually. Plus, the room’s future is still bright regardless of what happens in this class, with Reid Carrico, CJ Hicks and Gabe Powers all in their first or second year on campus. But landing Reese signifies two important things for the program.
First, it turns an assumed win into an indefinite one. Second, it potentially gets the ball rolling on restarting a pipeline with a school that’s brought the program plenty of fortune over the past 20 years.
To see Ohio State’s full 2023 recruiting class, click here.
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