Why 2024 commit Garrett Stover feels 'comfortable' as an Ohio State linebacker

Colin Gay
The Columbus Dispatch

Garrett Stover continues to say he will play wherever Ohio State needs him on defense. But the 2024 commit no longer looks like a safety. 

Taking the field at Fortress Obetz for the Under Armour Next Ohio football camp Sunday, Stover was a full-fledged linebacker, standing at 6 feet, 210 pounds, matching up one-on-one against running backs in coverage, including intercepting a pass meant for Michigan commit Jordan Marshall. 

After his junior season at Big Walnut High School where he went back and forth between safety and linebacker, Stover says he is now “comfortable” at linebacker, a position he’s embraced heading into his senior season both on the field and on the recruiting trail. 

“Especially with the linebackers, you want to find a tough, hard-nosed working kid that is also a good person,” Stover said. “He's just willing to do anything to help out his team, help out his brothers and get on the field.” 

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Working with Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, Stover said, “You’d think he’s been coaching me for 10 years,” building a strong relationship with the Buckeyes’ linebackers coach. 

Recruit Garrett Stover visits Ohio Stadium during the Ohio State, Michigan game.

But many elements of his days as a high safety are still useful lining up in the middle of the defense. 

“Just footwork in general and knowing where to place your hands and all that coverage stuff, it helps a lot,” Stover said. “For a linebacker, taking that to covering running backs instead of receivers, it helps a lot.” 

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After securing one linebacker in the 2023 class in Glenville High School’s Arvell Reese, Knowles and the Buckeyes have made the position a priority in 2024, starting the defensive class with Stover and four-star Texas linebacker Payton Pierce

For Stover, Pierce was the prototypical Ohio State linebacker, seeing his character from their first meeting on his official visit and helping “seal the deal” for him committing to the Buckeyes. 

“He’s a dog,” Stover said of Pierce. “Whoever is lined up across from him, he wants to take his face off.” 

Big Walnut's Garrett Stover carries the ball down field during a game against Hartley on Aug. 19 at Big Walnut High School in Sunbury.

Teaming up with Pierce, Stover has been looking for more 2024 linebackers that fit that mold, naming four-star Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa and four-star Edwin Spillman as the next targets for Knowles’ room. Stover said he will be on both Viliamu-Asa and Spillman’s official visits, looking to “seal the deal” like he did with Pierce. 

But his recruiting is not limited to the linebacker position.

Stover said he has been involved with the recruitments of Ohio cornerbacks Bryce West and Aaron Scott with “the best team in the nation right in your backyard.” 

And no matter the position, as Ohio State looks to match its defensive class with an 11-man offensive class in 2023, Stover’s pitch remains centered around the people of Ohio State. 

“The place is filled with just amazing people,” Stover said. “You can’t go wrong with the staff and the players, how everybody gets along. It’s so welcoming.” 

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