OSU recruits well on Rutgers’ home turf

Published 1:27 am Thursday, September 30, 2021

By Jim Naveau


COLUMBUS – Ohio State center Luke Wypler grew up 15 minutes from Rutgers’ SHI Stadium, went to games there when he was younger and ultimately decided to go to Ohio State when he was a 4-star recruit at St. Joseph’s Regional High School in Montvale, N.J.

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It’s a decision four of his Ohio State teammates made, too. The Buckeyes have five former 4-star recruits from New Jersey on their roster while Rutgers has convinced just two 4-star players from New Jersey to stay close to home to play college football.

Ohio State linebacker Cody Simon is from Jersey City. Defensive linemen Tyler Friday and Javontae Jean-Baptiste are from Ramsay, N.J., and Oradell, N.J. Defensive back Ronnie Hickman is from Wayne, N.J.

Greg Schiano, in the second year of his return to Rutgers, where he was head coach from 2001-2011, has made getting elite New Jersey athletes to come to Rutgers a priority. Five 4-star recruits have committed to the Scarlet Knights’ 2022 recruiting class and four of them are from New Jersey.

“They recruited me but that was before Schiano got there,” Wypler said on Tuesday. “It was a different staff, a different regime. I took it into consideration but ultimately picked Ohio State.

“Growing up, I was a decent Rutgers fan but I wasn’t a huge, die-hard fan,” he said.

He expects to have around 200 family members and friends at Saturday’s game when No. 11 Ohio State (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) plays at Rutgers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten).

Wypler became Ohio State’s starting center when Harry Miller, who was widely believed to be the favorite to win that job, was unavailable for the Buckeyes’ first four games.

“I wasn’t expecting it (starting) going into the season but things happen,” Wypler said. “Going forward, I think I’ve finally settled into what my role is as the center and how I have to lead the offensive line every week. There were a lot of things maybe I wasn’t doing early and now I’m doing them.”

MILLER RETURNS: OSU head coach Ryan Day said Miller will return to the team after being listed as unavailable for the first four games but did not say how soon he might play.

“He’s been dealing with some health issues. He’s going to come back this week and be part of the team and get back to work, which we’re all excited about,” Day said.

DEFENSIVE STAFF CHANGES: OSU defensive coach Matt Barnes, who took over making calls for the defense after a 35-28 loss to Oregon, went through a similar situation while he was an assistant at Maryland in 2018.

This season, he took over the play calling from Kerry Coombs, who still has the title of defensive coordinator. In 2018, he was the coach making the defensive calls for Maryland while Andy Buh kept the coordinator’s title.

Obviously, his experience in 2018 made this season’s transition easier.

“I think it’s like anything else. The best way to get better at playing football is to play football. The best way to improve calling defense is to call defense,” Barnes said on Tuesday after Day’s press conference.

He was careful not to claim too much credit, though, saying “It’s a group effort,” three times in the first 40 seconds of his time with the media on Tuesday.

DEFENSIVE LINE COMPETES: Defensive tackle Haskell Garrett says Ohio State’s interior defensive linemen compete with the ends to see which part of the defensive line gets to the quarterback more.

“We have a competition on the D-Line. We’re all racing to the quarterback. The ends really drive us. We talk about it a lot,” Garrett said on Tuesday.

Ohio State’s interior defensive linemen have 10 of the Buckeyes’ 13 sacks this season.

“Last week at our last practice I told Zach (defensive end Zach Harrison), ‘I bet I can get to the quarterback before you.’ Those little competitions drive us and drive all football players,” Garrett said.