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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Ohio football recruiting notebook — Notre Dame swipes five-star 2023 DE Brenan Vernon out of OSU’s back yard 

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, July 5, 2021, 11:22 pm

One of the biggest recruiting targets in the entire class of 2023 is off the market — and even though he’s from Ohio, he’s not planning (at the moment) to attend college in-state. 

Mentor defensive end Brenan Vernon committed to Notre Dame after his second trip to South Bend, Ind., in June, giving the Irish a massive present on the second-to-last day of the month. 

Vernon was on campus for the Irish Invasion camp the first week of June, then returned on the weekend of June 25-27, committing to the Irish two days later. 

247Sports ranks the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Vernon as a five-star prospect, the No. 2 player in Ohio’s class of 2023 (behind Pickerington Central safety Sonny Styles), and the No. 6 defensive end in the nation in the 2023 class, and the No. 18 overall player. 

Rivals ranks Vernon as the No. 3 defensive end in 2023, the No. 9 player in the nation, and top player in Ohio. 

By by the 247Sports rankings, Vernon is the highest-ranked defensive lineman to commit to the Irish since Aaron Lynch in 2011, and the seventh-highest ranked Irish commit overall by composite since the folks at 247Sports started their rankings in 2000. 

In other words, a big deal.

And a steal from the back yard of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have been busily churning out top-10 draft picks at defensive end over the last half-decade. 

They’ve also put a picket fence around the state, managing to keep most of the top-tier talent home. The Buckeyes  — who have verbals from the top two in the 2022 class — claimed the top four (and four of the top six) in-state players in the 2021 class, the top two in 2020, five of the top nine in 2019 and four of the top five in 2018 — the last time the state’s top player went elsewhere (Fairfield’s Jackson Carman to Clemson).

Vernon’s been on the radar for a while. 

He got his first offer from Kent State in June of 2019, before he’d even entered the ninth grade, and had bids from Alabama, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State and the home state Buckeyes among others. 

Although he’s led Mentor to a pair of semifinal appearances, Vernon has dealt with the limitations of injuries his first two years in high school, reportedly playing through a torn labrum as a freshman — racking up 45 tackles, two sacks and 15 pressures — then battling a foot injury that limited him to five games as a sophomore. ‘


Busy end to June for 2022 class

There were plenty of players from the 2022 class committing to college programs at the end of June as well. 

Along with the four players headed to Indiana’s two Big Ten schools, and six more top-50 products in the state headed to the Mid-American Conference with end-of-month commitments, there were a handful more headed other places.

Other recent Ohio commitments:

• Clive Wilson, Youngstown Chaney DL (Boston College) — June 19

The 6-foot-5, 235-pound, two-star prospect, ranked No. 58 in Ohio’s class of ’22 by the 247Sports Composite, chose the Eagles over Kentucky. 

• Tommy Bebie, Rocky River LB (Wake Forest) — June 28

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound, three-star prospect, ranked No. 54 in Ohio’s class of ’22 by the 247Sports Composite, chose the Demon Deacons over 12 other offers, including Navy, West Virginia, East Carolina, Tulane and much of the MAC. In Rocky River’s all-time top 10 for rushing, the two-way star recorded 55 tackles, two interceptions and 12 tackles for loss in seven games as a junior. 

• Tariq Montgomery, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary OT (Marshall) — July 2

The 6-foot-5, 310-pound, two-star prospect, ranked No. 89 in Ohio by 247Sports, chose Marshall over offers from Akron, Eastern Michigan and Montana State. He’s one of three offensive linemen in the class, who will potentially get a chance to help protect Centerville three-star quarterback Chase Harrison — Marshall’s top-ranked commit in the 2022 class — in the future. 

• Mani Powell, Canton McKinley LB (Arkansas) — July 2

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound, three-star prospect, ranked No. 27 in Ohio’s 2022 class by 247Sports, picked the Razorbacks over 16 other offers, including recent ones from Michigan, Missouri and West Virginia that came after his June 11 visit to Fayetteville, Ark. Had 81 tackles, 14 for loss, seven quarterback pressures, four sacks and two forced fumbles as a junior.