Ohio State Buckeyes: Dante Booker

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Just as soon as Ohio State took a big step forward in replenishing its depth at linebacker, it once again appears to have followed it up with one in the opposite direction.

The school confirmed on Monday that former four-star and ESPN 300 recruit Mike Mitchell is no longer practicing with the team and won't participate in the camp that opens Tuesday, another blow to the depth at the thinnest position on the roster. ElevenWarriors.com, citing sources, reported previously that Mitchell is planning to transfer at the end of the spring semester to be closer to his family and ailing father.

His departure would put more pressure on a group of four new recruits and two returning starters for a unit that has clearly not lived up to coach Urban Meyer’s expectations over the last two years and has been plagued by attrition.

The news release from the program doesn't address his future plans, but Mitchell’s departure would make him the fifth linebacker to leave the program with eligibility remaining since the end of the 2012 season, ramping up pressure on the incoming freshmen and rising sophomore Trey Johnson to fill the void left by all those missing bodies.

“The emphasis is on linebacker,” Meyer said last month. “There have been far too many mistakes in either lack of development or whatever, and it’s just not where we need to be.”

Mitchell was supposed to help address that when he chose to leave his home state of Texas last year and join the Buckeyes, but he ended up redshirting last season despite the lack of many options at the position.

The need to find more contributors in the middle of the defense only increased when star outside linebacker Ryan Shazier elected to skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft. And while veterans Joshua Perry and Curtis Grant will return for the Buckeyes, at a minimum they’ll need to identify one new starter and could wind up counting on the newcomers to fill out the two-deep given the accumulating losses concentrated at linebacker.

Mitchell would join David Perkins, Luke Roberts and Conner Crowell (injury) as potential candidates for playing time who have left the program since the end of the 2012 campaign, stretching Ohio State thin and contributing to the uneven play of a defense that struggled at the end of last season during consecutive losses to Michigan State and Clemson.

“There’s four linebackers that have been recruited, Raekwon McMillan, Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker, four guys I’m putting pressure on,” Meyer said. “[Co-defensive coordinator Luke] Fickell and myself have to get them ready for next year. They have to play for us, in addition to the players we have on our roster already.

“So just so everybody knows, there’s no redshirt plans for those players at all. We thought about that during the recruiting process.”

It’s now more clear than ever that Ohio State won’t have much time to wait for those young guys to develop.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Either way, Urban Meyer admitted he was going to put on a smile.

After going down to the wire with one of his most important targets, the Ohio State coach made it clear that the one he was sporting on signing day on Wednesday was genuine and not the fake one he thought he might need if Jamarco Jones spurned his program.

Instead Jones delivered some good news on the phone, and the rest of the committed recruits all faxed in signatures without incident, Ohio State tacked on one unexpected addition and Meyer didn't need to force any grins after again putting together the best class in the Big Ten.

Jamarco Jones
Jared Shanker/ESPNGetting Jamarco Jones to sign with Ohio State helped make it a winning day for the Buckeyes.
"I think we won today," Meyer said. "I made it clear to our guys, I'm very pleased with their efforts. That was a good class."

Missing out on Jones after he flirted late in the process with Michigan State might have changed Meyer's tune, though there still would have been plenty of talent coming to campus even if the talented offensive lineman hadn't decided to stick with his pledge to the Buckeyes.

But in the end, Meyer had little to complain about after putting the finishing touches on his third batch of signees with Ohio State. Now the real work begins for the Buckeyes, but not before taking a look at what they accomplished on national signing day.

Biggest need filled: Offensive line

  • The Buckeyes notably came up short on the recruiting trail last year in an effort to add depth to the offensive line, and with four senior starters departing after the Orange Bowl, they couldn't afford to miss out on big bodies again. Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman got exactly what they needed to bolster that critical position group, and they're expecting at least two of the five linemen they signed this year to at least be in the two-deep by the fall. Kyle Trout and Marcelys Jones are already on campus, but it was Jamarco Jones who drew the most mentions from Meyer on Wednesday and was hailed as the make-or-break player in the class. Throw in Demetrius Knox and Brady Taylor and the future should be in good shape again up front.
Late surprise: Darius Slade

  • Around noon, Meyer left the door open to potentially add one more player to the class, despite coming up short in a head-to-head battle with Michigan State for Malik McDowell and already having signed letters from the rest of the anticipated class. A couple hours later, Meyer once again unveiled a late surprise, swooping in for defensive lineman Darius Slade, a 6-foot-5, 240-pounder who had been committed to the Spartans before his change of heart. Meyer gave all the credit to new defensive line coach Larry Johnson for that final addition, and an already deep, talented group added one more talented piece.
Deepest position: Linebacker

  • The crown jewel of the class was already on campus for the Buckeyes, and after catching a glimpse of Raekwon McMillan working out on Wednesday morning, Meyer suggested he could easily be confused with an upperclassmen given how mature he already appears physically. But he's not the only linebacker Meyer is counting on to lend a hand as quickly as possible at the thinnest position on the roster, and the other three options all seem to be just as appealing for the Buckeyes. Sam Hubbard, Dante Booker Jr. and Kyle Berger won't have the benefit of going through spring practice like McMillan, but the foursome collectively had praise heaped on them -- and Meyer vowed there were "no redshirt plans for those players at all."
Instant impact candidates: Offensive skill players

  • The handy guide for predicting the likelihood of a freshman making a big splash, per Herman: The further away a player lines up from the snap, the better the chances. Given both the need for more playmakers on the perimeter and the speedy guys they signed, the search for new Buckeyes who might leave the biggest mark this fall starts with the wide receivers and another potential hybrid weapon. Noah Brown, Parris Campbell Jr., Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin all bring the kind of game-changing athleticism Ohio State covets so desperately, and there should be playing time to be had at receiver. But it's the dual threat Curtis Samuel could pose as both a target in the passing game and as a rusher that really seemed to have the coaching staff fired up, and like Dontre Wilson a year ago, he could become a factor in a hurry.
Here are the top performances by Big Ten commits and targets from the weekend.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Urban Meyer doesn’t miss an opportunity to impress.


The two-time national champion did it last year when Nebraska played Ohio State in The Horseshoe under the lights and he’s not missing the opportunity this year.

Here’s a look at some of the bigger names scheduled to make the trek to the banks of the Olentangy River for the Buckeyes-Badgers game Saturday evening.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

B1G high school performers 

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
2:40
PM ET
There wasn't a ton of movement in terms of recruiting for The Big Ten, but there were plenty of big performances from the commits and targets over the weekend. Here is a look at some of the top performers.

Illinois
Mike Dudek: Committed to Illinois, Dudek helped his team, Neuqua Valley (Ill.), to a 54-28 win over St. Charles East. Dudek had 335 all purpose yards, 5 receptions, 154 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. He also had a 94-yard kick return for a touchdown in the win.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline this weekend’s high school football games featuring Big Ten commitments and targets.

Prep Kickoff Classic:

The annual Prep Kickoff Classic begins on August 29 and runs through Aug. 31 and will take place at Wayne State University in Detroit.

To continue reading this article you must be an Insider



Recruiting is about momentum, and right now Ohio State has a a lot rolling its way.

The Buckeyes have received two big pledges on consecutive days -- from ESPN 300 offensive lineman Demetrius Knox (Fort Worth, Texas/All Saints Episcopal) and four-star athlete Malik Hooker (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) -- and a few other OSU pledges made some big moves in the latest release of the ESPN 300.

Ohio State also surged up three spots in the class rankings to No. 11, which is second in the Big Ten behind No. 6 Michigan.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The long anticipated Friday Night Lights camp is finally here with some big names slated to attend as we have highlighted over the past eight days.

BuckeyeNation gave you what to expect and what to watch in separate stories this week. Here’s a little bit of what happened last year to get fans in the mood for what is a very fun event.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

BuckeyeNation looks at 10 themes of Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class to date:

Arms race is over

Ohio State missed out on ESPN 300 quarterbacks Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) and Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) and came up empty on standout DeShaun Watson as well. That didn’t matter to Urban Meyer, who got his man in Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Leesburg). The Georgia high school standout had a private game of pitch and catch with the Buckeyes coach and it was enough to earn an offer and commitment. Consider the hunt for a quarterback finished.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider


The Opening provided prospects with the opportunity to showcase their skills against the best in the nation. It also gave them the chance to see where they stacked up and provided a good recruiting tool as well, if prospects perform well and improve their stock.

Here is a look at four Ohio State pledges and six targets that helped themselves at the three-day camp:

1. WR Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral)
6-0, 181
Unranked


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

With Luke Roberts following David Perkins out the door as a transfer, the linebacker depth chart at Ohio State became even thinner.

It also opened up another scholarship for Ohio State in the Class of 2014, should the Buckeyes choose to use it that way.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Ohio State had several areas of need in the 2014 class, chief among them being the offensive line and linebacker. Here’s a look at their top five areas of need and what they’ve done to address them so far.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

Nine Ohio State pledges will head to The Opening, which is one more than a year ago.

With the most representatives of any school in the nation heading to the nationally televised, star-studded event, quarterback Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County), running back Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary), outside linebackers Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), offensive tackle Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), defensive ends Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), wide receiver Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and cornerback Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) know what they’re in for.

All nine are going there with a chip and a chirp.

[+] EnlargeDante Booker
Brad Bournival/ESPN.comA big Opening could propel Dante Booker up the rankings.
<1. The chip is to prove they’re underrated.

OSU has the most commits at The Opening of any school by far, but that doesn’t mean it has a ton of highly ranked commits. In fact, only four of its commits are in the ESPN 300, and only one (Webb), is among the top 150. Excellent showings here could provide a rankings boost for any of them. “By competing, we’re showing how good we are,” Berger said. “Being able to meet up with the top 150 kids, it’s the perfect time.”

2. The chirp is to get in the ear of some of the top campers in the nation.

All nine have been active in recruiting for the Buckeyes. Webb’s family even has a website, Bucks2014.com, detailing news, notes and commitments for Ohio State. They all see The Opening as an opportunity to spread the word. “Kids like to make decisions in the summer,” Berger said. “This is a great time to put the Buckeyes in their ear.”

3. Stout Trout.

Trout is one of those guys outside the 300 with a chance to break in if he can hold up against top competition, some of which he got a chance to see up close and personal at the Columbus NFTC. “I’m trying to seek out the best competition and beat them,” Trout said. “I went to the Nike Training Camp expecting to see Da’Shawn Hand. I wanted to see him and I wanted to go against him. When they said, ‘Do you want to play right tackle?’ I said, “ ‘Heck yeah, I want to play right tackle.’ I’m a left tackle, but I don’t care. I can change my feet, I’m athletic. It’s a little weird, but I wanted to prove to people I can go with the No. 1 defensive end in the nation, which is exactly what I did. … He beat me, I beat him, and we stalemated. I want to go at him again. Not in a mean way, we’re cool, but I want to go against the best talent in the nation.”


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

The Opening, presented by Nike, will feature 162 of the best high school football players in the country. The event, which will include linemen, 7-on-7 and SPARQ testing competitions, is set to run from June 30 to July 3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The following events from The Opening will be televised on ESPNU:

July 1: SPARQ Rating National Championship, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET

July 2: 7-on-7 Pool Play, 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET

July 3: Linemen Challenge Finals and 7-on-7 semifinal and championship games, 9 p.m.-midnight ET

The players will be divided in to six teams -- Alpha Pro, Apocalypse, Field Generals, Land Sharks, Super Bad and Vapor Carbon. Here is a closer look at how the teams match up.

Team: Alpha Pro
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Jordan Palmer, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson

The Alpha Pro team will have plenty of targets to spread the ball around. Ermon Lane and Tyler Luatua, the No. 1-ranked receiver and tight end in the country respectively, bring size and playmaking ability to the passing game. ESPN 300 athletes Corey Holmes, Jalen Hurd, John "JuJu" Smith, Ja'Von Harrison, and Derrell Scott are all explosive offensive weapons.

Defensively Alpha Pro is led by Andrew Brown, the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, ESPN 150 cornerback Damon Webb, defensive end Andrew Williams, Ohio State linebacker commit Dante Booker and LSU cornerback commit Chris Hardeman.

Complete Alpha Pro roster.

Team: Apocalypse
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Adam Tafralis, defensive coordinator Donovin Darius

The first thing that jumps out about team Apocalypse is the talent in the defensive front seven. Team Apocalypse will be led by five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., is the No. 4-ranked player in the country, while McMillan was recently bumped up to a five-star linebacker. Joining Hand and McMillan along the front seven are ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Moten and Ainuu Taua, and linebackers D.J. Calhoun and Rashaan Evans.

Offensively, team Apocalypse has no shortage of playmakers. ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott, K.D. Cannon and Michiah Quick will provide explosiveness in the passing game, while athletic running backs Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman will provide athletic and reliable targets out of the backfield.

Complete Apocalypse roster.

Team: Field Generals
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, defensive coordinator Michael Fletcher

Seven-on-seven events are always geared towards the offense, but with five-star defensive back Adoree' Jackson, No. 3-ranked safety Jamal Adams, and ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett in the secondary, the Field Generals should more than hold their own. New Ohio State defensive end commit Jalyn Holmes and the No. 6-ranked defensive end in the country, Solomon Thomas, will be two to watch along the defensive line.

Offensively, the Field Generals are led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, ESPN 300 wide receivers Austin Roberts and Thaddeus Snodgrass and explosive Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood.

Complete Field Generals roster.

Team: Landsharks
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Craig Nall, defensive coordinator Keith Bulluck

The Landsharks have some big-time talent along each line of scrimmage. Led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the Landsharks also feature ESPN 300 offensive guard Corey Martinez. ESPN 300 defensive linemen Gerald Willis III and Thomas Holley, as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas, will form a very physical and athletic defensive line.

In the secondary, the Landsharks will have three defensive backs -- Arrion Springs, Chris Lammons and Tony Brown -- that are ranked among the top 85 players in the country. The defense also features ESPN 150 linebacker Nyles Morgan.

Offensively, explosive running backs Dalvin Cook, a Florida commit, and Racean Thomas form a dangerous tandem out of the backfield, and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jalen Harvey are solid receiving threats.

Complete Landsharks roster.

Team: Superbad
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Dennis Gile, defensive coordinator Harold Nash Jr.

The Superbad defense line is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson. The linebacking corp is stacked with three ESPN 300 members, including Clifton Garrett, Christian Miller and Edwin Freeman. Cornerback Jalen Tabor is the No. 19-ranked player in the country.

Offensively, Superbad has a huge advantage with the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, running back Leonard Fournette. This team is loaded on offense, with wide receivers Drake Harris, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil all in the mix.

Complete Superbad roster.

Team: Vapor Carbon
Coaches: Offensive coordinator George Whitfield, defensive coordinator Chris Gizzi.

Vapor Carbon will be tough to throw against with defensive backs Quin Blanding, Naijiel Hale and Ed Paris roaming the field. The linebacker group is just as impressive, with Ohio State commit Kyle Berger, Kain Daub and Dillon Bates all leading the way.

The offense for Vapor Carbon could be lethal with running back Joseph Yearby and Nick Chubb in the backfield. Spreading out wide receivers T.V. Williams, Justin Brent and tight end Ian Bunting on the outside could prove to be an awesome combination for this squad.

Team Vapor Carbon has a lot of pieces to make a long run in the 7-on-7 tournament, but then again, every team is stacked in this competition.

Complete Vapor Carbon roster.
The ESPN 300 was released Monday, and it is evident Ohio State has to make up some ground.

Last year, Ohio State debuted at No. 7 when the first 300 was released behind a core group of six ESPN 150 selections and five other top pledges.

This year, the Buckeyes have just one ESPN 150 senior in cornerback Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) and two other 300 selections in outside linebackers Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), though it should be noted that Booker is just six spots out of the 150.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

SPONSORED HEADLINES

New ESPN 300 Top 10 Revealed
National recruiting analysts Tom Luginbill and Craig Haubert count down the top 10 recruits in the latest ESPN 300 player rankings update. The complete ESPN 300 will be released April 16.Tags: Tim Settle, CeCe Jefferson, Torrance Gibson, Mitch Hyatt, Terry Beckner Jr., Byron Cowart, Josh Sweat, Kevin Toliver II, Martez Ivey, Trevon Thompson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert
VIDEO PLAYLIST video