Ohio State is going to turn over quite a bit of its linebacker room over the next two years, making the 2025 cycle a very important one for the Buckeyes to restock the cupboard. A few priority targets have already emerged for James Laurinaitis and Jim Knowles, including Top 100 Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola star Elijah Melendez.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect is one of the nation’s top ranked linebackers at this point and seems to be trending upwards in the recruiting rankings each time he is evaluated.
Melendez was one of a handful of key targets for Laurinaitis who took in Ohio State’s big win over Penn State on Saturday afternoon.
“I loved it,” Melendez said of his visit. “It was very electric and made me see myself there.”
Ohio State’s defense played one of its best games in recent memory on Saturday and that was not lost on Melendez. His big takeaway from Saturday’s effort was in fact seeing himself in that scheme.
“Just me visualizing myself and seeing myself in that defense and in front of that fan base is really amazing,” he said. “I really can see myself coming here and doing a great job.”
The weekend trip solidified Ohio State as a major contender for Melendez.
“Ohio State is very high on my list,” he said. “They are in my top schools for sure and one I’m gonna get back to and take an official to for sure.”
However, it’s not just Saturday’s result and the atmosphere inside Ohio Stadium. The relationship with Laurinaitis has been a driving force in his interest in the Buckeyes.
“Me and coach Laurinaitis have an amazing relationship,” he stated. “We talk about everyday and we have a lot in common. Out of every coach recruiting me, my relationship is probably best with him.”
Melendez holds more than 25 offers already, including the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State, and USC.