Buckeyes need to continue streak, add instant-impact help from portal

Austin Ward5 months
Aritcle written by:Austin WardAustin Ward

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Al Washington by Birm-Lettermen Row
Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington will be looking for new starters. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and the need for a transfer-portal option like Henry To’o To’o? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Ohio State is never going on a full-scale grocery trip in the transfer portal.

But when the Buckeyes are missing one ingredient, they’re willing to make the effort to get what they need. And they tend to be far more successful than just about any program in the country thanks in large part to that targeted approach.

Have a hole at guard? Land a future NFL blocker for one season.

Need an upgrade at quarterback? Bring in a first-round pick.

Thin at running back? Add a game-changer capable of rewriting the school record books in short order.

Now it needs to do it again. This time the top priority is undoubtedly at linebacker, and the pressure is on to continue that instant-impact hot streak.

Henry To'o To'o-Tennessee Vols-Tennessee football-NCAA transfer portal

Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o is a top target for Ohio State. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ohio State has built itself into an annual national-title contender thanks not only to the most prolific stretch of recruiting in school history, but also the strength of the culture that keeps those prospects around and developing. For the most part, that rarely leaves them searching for much outside help — which then allows them to narrow the focus to a position where there might be a genuine necessity. Justin Fields is a no-brainer, of course. But Jonah Jackson and Trey Sermon are more useful examples in showing how Ohio State evaluates where it might be deficient and the mutual benefit of a bringing in those proven veterans even for just one season.

So, where is the void on the roster right now for the Buckeyes? Clearly that’s at linebacker since they had to suit up a long-snapper just to fill out a two-deep lineup on Saturday in the spring game. And it’s just as obvious where Ohio State is directing its attention to not only shore up the depth, but potentially enhance it with a difference-making talent.

There haven’t been any public indications on when exactly Henry To’o To’o might make his decision as the former All-SEC linebacker leaves Tennessee. And while Alabama has long been considered the favorite, multiple sources have indicated to Lettermen Row that Ohio State is a legitimate landing spot in what seems to just be a two-team race for perhaps the most defensive player on the market.

Al Washington has long been considered one of the best young recruiters in the country, and there has been a growing belief in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that a solid relationship has been formed since To’o To’o entered the portal and lines of communication were opened. A quick glance at the Ohio State depth chart should only make the Big Ten champions more appealing, and the hard-hitting, athletic tackler would likely be in position to start as soon as he stepped foot on campus.

There have also been conversations with USC transfer Palaie Gaoteote, and the former five-star recruit coming out of high school would obviously bolster the depth for the Buckeyes as well. The timeline for both players has been hard to gauge and complicated in some respects by the inability to take visits until June. While that isn’t always a deal-breaker, it’s at least one factor and makes it a possibility that Ohio State won’t be able to wrap up its portal trip as quickly as it has in the past.

One way or another, the Buckeyes know what they need. And they probably won’t spend time looking for much else.

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