Although the 2018 class has been widely praised for filling needs such as safety, offensive line and quarterback, the linebacker class tells another story.
In total, OSU has just two incoming linebackers — both of which are expected to move to different positions then they previously played in high school. It doesn’t exactly scream “slam dunk” as a projection on paper, and it might’ve been among the handful of reasons Glenn Spencer and OSU parted ways earlier this spring.
With that, let’s hand out grades for the 2018 LB class.
Ability to produce right away
Blake Barron, a middle linebacker expected to play on the weak side, is almost certainly in line for a redshirt. The same I think will go for the other signee, Kolby Peel. He played safety in high school but is expected to move down in the box as a hybrid linebacker a la Josh Furman.
I’d be shocked if either played right away, but Peel’s size (6-foot, 210 pounds) and agility gives me hope that he could be a Glenn Spencer tweener prospect who turns out to be a surprise. He’s got a lot of talent but both he and Barron will have a pretty big adjustment period.
Neither Barron nor Peel project as All-Big 12 type of players, just based on their highlight film and how they were recruited out of high school. They stood out among other high school players on their teams, and there’s a reason they are Division I athletes. But I think long-term potential for both is an average starter at their respective positions. Which is totally fine, by the way. I just don’t see either developing into NFL caliber talent.
OSU could’ve used an extra body to plug the middle of the defense, but Barron — a middle backer who will likely kick to the outside, dependent upon how Jim Knowles opts to use him — could be a tweener to fill that role. It’s not a great setup, but overall I think two players helps boost the overall depth of the position fine, filling scholarship voids left by Kirk Tucker, Gyasi Akem and Chad Whitener. It makes middle linebacker a major priority in 2019, though.