5-star tailback interested in Ohio State, Buckeyes working on Florida linemen

On3 imageby:Jeremy Birmingham01/31/21


Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. Today we’re talking about 5-star running back Raleek Brown and a handful of Florida’s best sophomore prospects.

5-star tailback Raleek Brown talking to Ryan Day, Ohio State regularly

The Buckeyes signed two of the country’s top-ranked tailbacks in the Class of 2021 and Tony Alford has been spending a lot of time getting familiar with the 2022 class over the last handful of months.

One player that Alford hasn’t talked with much is California star Raleek Brown, a 5-star prospect from Mater Dei (Santa Ana) High School ranked as the nation’s No. 3 tailback. While Alford hasn’t yet been involved with the 5-f00t-8, 185-pound Brown, someone else with the Buckeyes has been.

“[Ryan] Day texts me all the time,” Brown told Lettermen Row. “I like him and the staff there. It’s a great program with a lot of history and a lot of great players out of there.”

A former Ohio State linebacker is helping the Buckeyes cause in California.

“My big bro Larry Grant talks to me about Ohio State all the time and how much I’d love it there,” Brown said. “He’s best friends with my mentor and I talk to Larry all the time. He’s been where I’m trying to get to and he shares his experiences with me.”

The Buckeyes don’t get mentioned much in the Raleek Brown sweepstakes — it’s usually Oklahoma, USC and a few others that get linked to him the most — but he says his interest in Ohio State is real.

“Those schools have been recruiting me since I was in eighth grade,” Brown said of those programs. “But I am interested in Ohio State. and I know my name isn’t ever linked to them but my time will come. I’m not pressing about it. I’m blessed to even be in any conversation with any college program but I would love to visit there when things open back up.”

Ohio State working hard on young Florida linemen

There’s never a shortage of football talent in Florida and with Florida, Florida State and Miami all trying to lock down the borders of the Sunshine State, it’s more important than ever for Ohio State to get relationships going with that state’s best and brightest as early as they can. To that end, three linemen with Buckeyes offers say that Ohio State is staying involved as possible in their recruitments.

“We talk at least once a week,” Timber Creek (Orlando) 2023 offensive lineman T.J. Shanahan told Lettermen Row. “Usually I talk with [Tony] Alford. They just say how they can’t wait for the dead period to end so they can get me up there to Columbus and that I’m one of their top recruits for the 2023 class.”

That’s a similar refrain to the one Payton Kirkland is hearing. Also from Orlando, the Dr. Phillips High School lineman says he’ll get to Ohio State as soon as he’s able.

“Ohio State and USC,” the 6-foot-7, 315-pound lineman shared. “Coach Alford stays in touch the most and I hear a lot from Ohio State, USC, Arizona State, Florida and Miami. Recruiting is really picking back up now that the season is over and I have a few visits in mind for when the dead period lifts, mostly Ohio State and USC.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State made the early cut for defensive lineman Derrick LeBlanc as he released his Top 10 list earlier this week. LeBlanc has almost 40 offers already and says he’s been in regular communication with the Ohio State defensive staff.

“I’ve been talking to Ohio State a lot,” LeBlanc told Lettermen Row. “Larry Johnson and his assistant and the defensive coordinator. Everything has been going really smooth. They want me to get up there soon for a visit if I can.”

LeBlanc is up to 245 pounds following his sophomore season — he was 219 as a freshman — and is shaping up to be a very highly-ranked prospect.

Florida standouts also waiting for Buckeyes to ramp up conversation

The Buckeyes remain one of the country’s hottest programs and though they’re working hard to connect with every top prospect in the country, the connections aren’t always as easy to make, especially in Florida. To that end, there are two big-time players that are eager to grow relationships with the Ohio State staff.

“I haven’t heard from them recently but I’ve talked to Brian Hartline a few times,” TRU Prep Academy (Miami Gardens, Fla.) star Brandon Inniss, the No. 1-ranked receiver in the country in the Class of 2023, told Lettermen Row. “There were definitely good vibes. He told me that basically he will be recruiting me hard after September 1 and I’m his guy in my class.”

Contact rules with sophomores keep the Buckeyes from working the relationship too much but it doesn’t stop Inniss from seeing what makes Ohio State so attractive to young receivers.

“I have paid attention to the wide receivers they produced over the years,” the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Inniss said. “And some of the guys they got there right now. That’s why I like them.”

Another Florida sophomore, Lewis Carter, is hoping to hear more from the Buckeyes as well.

“Recruiting has been going really good,” Carter, a 6-foot-tall, 200-pound athlete from Tampa Catholic told Lettermen Row. “I’ve got 18 offers right now but just waiting on an Ohio State offer. I’ve talked to Tony Alford a few times. He said he’ll be down here to see me as soon as he can.”

Georgia, Texas A&M, Miami and Auburn have all offered Carter, who could end up playing safety, linebacker or running back at the next level, but he says the Buckeyes are a program that changes things.

“I want the offer because Ohio State just seems like a great school to further my education and athletics career,” he said. “Ohio State just seems different from all others. I see that it has a great football program but it also makes great men. It would be great to have Ohio State as a choice, it would be one of my top picks definitely.”

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