Signed: Four-star Defensive End Joshua Mickens Gives Ohio State a Versatile Defensive End to Add to Its 2023 Class

Larry Johnson has pulled out a win on the recruiting trail.

Even though Ohio State offered four-star Indiana 2023 defensive end Joshua Mickens late this cycle, the Buckeyes won him over enough over the last two months to convince him to eventually flip from LSU to OSU, staying closer to home in the process. Mickens officially signed with the Buckeyes on Wednesday, becoming the 21st total commit in 2023 and the fourth defensive lineman, joining Will Smith Jr., Kayden McDonald and Jason Moore.

The Mickens File

  • Class: 2023
  • Size: 6-5/225
  • Post: Defensive end
  • School: Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Indiana)
  • Star Rating: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #131 (#20 Edge)

Mickens is expected to be an early enrollee in Columbus. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound defender did not expect to announce his college choice this early, as he originally planned on announcing his decision at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 7. But considering Mickens hadn’t been publicly linked to any other school since decommitting from LSU, it made sense to let the public know of his future on Signing Day.

Mickens made two gameday visits to OSU this fall, first for the Indiana game on Nov. 12 and later taking an official visit for the Michigan game. After his first visit to Columbus in 2022, he picked up his OSU offer. Two weeks later, his official visit showed him everything he needed to see to feel comfortable with the Buckeyes. He decommitted from LSU a few days after his official visit in Columbus, but waited a month before officially declaring he’d be playing for the Buckeyes.

Although his OSU recruitment only seriously took off in the past month or so, OSU has been interested in Mickens as a prospect for a long time, as he made a gameday trip to OSU for the Oregon game a season ago.

According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, Mickens is considered the 131st-best prospect and the 20th-ranked edge player in the 2023 cycle. He picked up 32 Division I offers throughout his recruitment, including LSU, North Carolina, USC, Tennessee, Boston College, Illinois, Florida State, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State.

Mickens is the only player in the 2023 class from Indiana, but the Buckeyes have had no issue recruiting The Hoosier State in recent years. Recent OSU commits from Indiana include Caden Curry (2022), Zen Michalski (2021), Josh Fryar (2020), Craig Young (2019) and Dawand Jones (2019). OSU also has an Indiana native committed for the 2024 class in four-star offensive lineman Ian Moore.

Mickens’ versatility gives him a big chance to be successful in Ohio State’s defense

By adding Mickens to the 2023 class, the Buckeyes are adding a player capable of playing as a traditional defensive end or in the Leo spot in Jim Knowles’ defense. Regardless of where he lines up, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound prospect is capable of being a game-wrecker of opposing offenses.

In 11 games played for Lawrence Central (Indianapolis, Indiana) this season, Mickens racked up 74 total tackles (20.5 for loss), 6.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, one pass deflection and three forced fumbles. As a junior, Mickens racked up 78 tackles (23 for loss), 12 sacks, five quarterback hurries, five forced fumbles, seven pass deflections and a fumble recovery he returned 55 yards.

From the film, Mickens shows a skillset and a body type capable of thriving off the edge in a traditional defensive end role, or could line up standing up for a percentage of his snaps. Mickens has a tremendous first step, and can overwhelm slower offensive tackles with his lightning quickness off the edge. One of his biggest strengths is using his hands to shed blocks, as he displays fine technique ridding himself of opposing offensive linemen to cause pure chaos in the opposing backfield. Once Mickens arrives at his target, to put it bluntly, he hits like a truck.

Mickens isn’t just a pure pass rusher, as evidenced by both his junior and senior seasons where he made 20-plus tackles for losses in the backfield each year. His motor is relentless every snap and the Indiana prospect has shown an ability to chase down ball carriers if needed. If Mickens can get to the quarterback in time, he’s shown great tenacity to cause fumbles and create turnovers. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Mickens will have a decent starting frame to work with, but will need to add weight at the collegiate level if he wants to develop into a pure defensive end.

He was a three-sport athlete and excelled in each one, as Mickens also played basketball and competed in track and field.

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