College football fans can debate about which school is which position university, and that will change throughout the years. But there’s no debate which program has consistently produced top-level defensive linemen year after year. That program is Ohio State.
The former Buckeye defensive line stars are littered throughout the NFL. Joey Bosa, Nick Bosa and Chase Young are a few of the recent defensive ends taken at the top of the first round. Names like Adolphus Washington, Dre’Mont Jones and DaVon Hamilton line up on the interior of NFL defensive lines on a weekly basis.
Aside from attending Ohio State, the connection these defensive linemen all have in common is they were coached by Larry Johnson. The Scarlet and Gray defensive line coach, who left Penn State to come to Columbus in 2014, is the best in the business and his track record speaks for itself.
This track record of Johnson’s matters to top defensive line recruits such as Shemar Stewart.
“It plays a big role,” Steward said at Ohio State’s one-day recruiting camp on Wednesday. “It lets me know that coach Johnson knows what he’s doing with his players and their development.”
Stewart is a five-star 2022 prospect out of Opa Locka, Florida’s Monsignor Pace High School. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, the senior-to-be has all the physical tools to be one of the country’s best defensive linemen and he’s ranked according. Stewart is the third-best defensive lineman in the 2022 class and seventh-best overall prospect, according to the 247Sports Composite.
“I’m a real fast guy,” Stewart described his game. “On camera, it doesn’t look like that but in real life, I’m moving. But when that stops, I’ve got power too. I’m not all speed. Speed and power, there’s a difference.”
Given his size, speed, strength and skill, it’s only natural that the Buckeyes would be interested in Stewart. After speaking with Johnson “here and there” leading up to this week, Stewart finally was able to make the trip north to Columbus — thank the NCAA for lifting the recruiting dead period — and see and speak with the legendary defensive line coach in person.
“He’s a great coach,” Stewart said of Johnson. “There isn’t much to say about it. He’s a great coach… You can tell he’s different. His way to coach the game is different.”
Stewart has interest from top programs across the country, including LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida, Clemson, Georgia and Texas A&M, to name a few. Ohio State has recruited the defensive lineman as hard as any school and the interest is mutual.
While Stewart didn’t necessarily come prepared to work out at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Wednesday — he had been on a number of campus tours and hadn’t done much physical activity in recent weeks — he went ahead took part in activities, giving Johnson a chance to see him up close.
“I felt like I could do a bit better today, but I definitely think it went well today hanging out with coach Johnson,” Stewart said. “It was a very tough workout. It was boom, boom, boom, high intensity, back to back to back. I mean, but it’s cool. It was a good workout.”
After visiting Ohio State, Stewart has other visits planned to more of the top schools that are interested in him. The defensive lineman will also be at the Future 50 event this weekend, going up against some of the best players in the country.
As for his decision timeline, Stewart said he would like to narrow down his list of schools by the time his senior high school season starts. He does not have a decision date set at this time.
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And as for what Stewart is looking for in a school, it sounds like the Buckeyes would be a good fit.
“The most important thing is I want to go somewhere that can develop me to be the best player I can be and things like that,” he said. “So it doesn’t matter if they’re my favorite school or not. I’m just going to go to the school that can develop me the best.