Ohio State added two more intriguing pieces to what is shaping up to be yet another strong recruiting class, as the Buckeyes received verbal pledges from outside linebacker Justin Hilliard and defensive end Jashon Cornell on Wednesday.
Head coach Urban Meyer and his staff have worked hard to bring in top-tier SEC-level defensive talent to Columbus since arriving on campus, and it doesn't appear that those efforts are going to cease in the 2015 class or any time soon.
US PRESSWIREImproving Ohio State's defensive talent level has been a priority for Urban Meyer.
Hilliard, from Saint Xavier High School in Cincinnati, OH, is a 6-2, 230-pound aggressive east-to-west 'backer who also rushes the passer well. He finished his junior campaign with 80 tackles and five sacks. Major programs such as Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan were also after his services. He joins 2014 signee Raekwon McMillan as one of the top linebacker signees under Meyer.
Cornell, from Cretin-Derham Hall High School in Saint Paul, MN, is a 6-3, 265-pounder who had a variety of top schools recruiting him. The pass rusher has good size and strength, and he will join a D-line that is talented and deep.
Both Hilliard and Cornell have a chance to play early under defensive coordinator Chris Ash.
Ohio State now has 12 pledges for its 2015 class.
Meyer inherited a program coming off of a 6-7 season and immediately hit the ground running on the recruiting trail. While impact offensive performers will continue to infiltrate his Power Spread scheme, Meyer recognized that the Buckeyes would get back to being a consistent national championship contender only by rebuilding the defense with high-quality talent and depth. That started up front with the rebuild of the now-dominant defensive line, which features players such as Joey Bosa, Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence and Tommy Schutt. The front seven also features highly recruited linebackers Curtis Grant and McMillan.
The one area of concern coming off of last season has been the secondary, but the Buckeyes made strides this spring playing press coverage after looking lost in zone against the pass last fall. The final two games against Michigan State and Clemson underscored the problems in the secondary. The staff brought in a loaded DB class in 2013 featuring Vonn Bell, Eli Apple and Cameron Burrows, and those players are expected to make big strides this fall.
There's no doubt that Michigan State is the standard right now for Big Ten defenses. But the pledges of Hilliard and Cornell reveal that Meyer is hoping to make Ohio State just as strong on that side of the ball with some of his SEC-level snags.
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.
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