Ohio State offered Garrett Stover nearly one year ago following a sterling OSU camp performance in front of the Buckeye coaches. A high school safety until last season when he moved to linebacker as a junior, Stover turned his first full season as a linebacker into a First-Team All-State performance.
He committed to Ohio State last November and has spent his time since then preparing for life as an eventual college linebacker. Stover has added weight since his days as a safety, checking in now around 210 pounds while still maintaining his coverage abilities.
(Those abilities, by the way, saw him intercept a pass a little over two weeks ago at an Under Armour camp while in one-on-one coverage again Michigan running back commit Jordan Marshall.)
Bigger, stronger, and with more familiarity at the position, Stover is feeling good as his senior season at Big Walnut High School in Sunbury, Ohio looms.
“Yeah, I would say definitely, especially having a year already under my belt playing linebacker in my first year, my junior season,” Stover said recently. “So now I kind of got in the feel of things and everything, I like just where I’m at.”
Stover joins Texan Payton Pierce as the Buckeyes’ two linebackers committed in the 2024 class so far. They have designs on adding others, with Stover listing California prospect Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa and Tennessee linebacker Edwin Spillman as targets he is working on.
As for Stover’s relationship with Pierce, things are going well.
“We talk pretty much every other day, I would say, just catching up and everything, and who we’re going after next and stuff,” he said. “That first time he visited, we really built a connection and relationship. He’s a great dude and I can’t wait to work with him and be teammates.”
The pitch that Stover used with Pierce is the same one he’s going to continue to rely on.
“I would say just the whole place and the people,” Stover explained. “Like how this place is filled with amazing people. You just can’t go wrong with the staff and the players, and everybody gets along. It’s so welcoming.”
That welcoming nature has helped him build a connection with Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and assistant linebackers coach James Laurinaitis.
The connection with Knowles has grown quickly.
“It’s great,” he said. “You’d think he’s been coaching me for 10 years. We’ve really built a strong relationship together.”
The relationship with Laurinaitis actually goes back to Laurinaitis’ previous stop at Notre Dame when the former Buckeye All-American was recruiting Stover to come to South bend.
“I love him to death too. He’s great,” Stover said. “I first met him when he was at Notre Dame, and I went to their camp, and he really took me under his wing, and he really liked how I played the game and how I was coachable and everything. We’ve kind of built the relationship right from there, and we stayed in touch after that. And when I knew he was coming to Ohio State, I mean it made my commitment that much better. He’s another one of those dudes you just fall in love with.”
Stover is the cousin of current Ohio State tight end Cade Stover, who won Ohio’s Mr. Football Award in 2018. The award is something that Garrett Stover has in mind as well, and Cade has not only given him advice on how to make it happen, but driven him to make it a goal.
“Yeah, I would say. He’s always told me enjoy your senior season and win Mr. Football,” he said. “I think it’s cool how he won it, and it’d be really cool if I did. I’m just trying to work as hard as I can every day to achieve that. And I know it matters what I do now, and not necessarily waiting until that moment. So I’m kind of building up to that, and that’s the end goal.”
Shortly after the award is announced this December, Garrett Stover will be graduating and enrolling early at Ohio State.
As a college linebacker, the former high school safety will then cross another goal off of his list, but by no means will it be the last.