Author: Marc Givler

Four-star pass rusher talking regularly with Ohio State

Joe Strickland is one of Indiana's top rising junior prospects.

INDIANAPOLIS -- The state of Indiana has a couple of the Midwest's top defensive line prospects in the 2022 class. On Tuesday, we caught up with another one in Indianapolis Brebeuf Jesuit product Joe Strickland. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound prospect is a consensus four-star prospect and is hearing from pretty much the entire Big Ten, with several big offers already under his belt.

"I have around 10 offers," Strickland told during an in-person interview on Tuesday. "Most of the Big Ten (has offered) other than Ohio State and like two other schools. I've got Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, IU, Purdue. My recent one was Minnesota."

While Ohio State has not yet offered the versatile defensive lineman, there is regular dialogue between the two parties.

"I've been talking to Ohio State," Strickland continued. "I've been talking to Northwestern too. With Ohio State, it has been coach (Kevin) Wilson and we talk weekly. It has been mainly about things outside of football, like family. He used to coach at IU so this is his region and we are talking weekly."

So far, Wilson has made a good impression. A good enough impression that the Buckeyes are a priority visit for the four-star pass rusher the moment he is able to get back on the road.

"I like him," Strickland said. "I think he's a good coach and I look forward to being up there whenever visits (open up). Coach Wilson wants me to come up there and I think he's a good guy based on our conversations."

Strickland camped with Ohio State last summer and had planned to come back this month to work with defensive line coach Larry Johnson again. 

"Last summer I met Jack Sawyer and talked with coach Kenny (Anunike) and I talked with coach Larry Johnson," he recalled. "I could definitely see myself playing under (Johnson). He has coached legends and guys who are going to be legends. He's definitely a great coach."

Johnson's reputation was validated in Strickland's interactions with him.

"He's loud, but he just has the same tone towards everything, good or bad," Strickland said. "I feel like that is why he has been able to coach so many great players. Guys come in good, but then they leave great like both the Bosa brothers, Chase Young, and there are guys who you don't see in the media who are really good. I just think it's the way he carries himself, his players look up to him like a mentor and that they learn a lot of things about life from him, too. He shows guys how to act as a man and I feel like that is also why he players turn out so good."

Strong athletic background

Strickland comes from a tremendous athletic pedigree. His father, Vern, played basketball at Auburn in the mid-80's, overlapping with Charles Barkley. So the genes are there. 

What is perhaps even more intriguing is that Strickland is surrounded by such a strong infrastructure. He has the size and athleticism that his dad passed down, but that talent is being molded by a couple of former NFL defensive linemen in Dan Muir and Robert Mathis who are showing him the ropes of what it takes to be an elite pass-rusher.

"He can be as good as he wants to be," Muir said of his protege. "He works very hard. He's very long. The thing with him being long is that most guys who are that long, can't bend. For such a long guy, he can bend extremely well. He has good hips, good explosion, and he's learning to play with length. So he's a guy that can be as good as he wants to be, and I have a feeling he wants to be pretty good. He works very hard."

Muir was fortunate enough to play for a great defensive line coach during his time with the Indianapolis Colts. He and Mathis can draw on those experiences and pass those things down to Strickland during their training sessions together.

"The good thing about my situation is that I played under, in my opinion, the greatest defensive line coach in the NFL in John Teerlinck," Muir explained. "One of the the things with John Teerlinck and us (defensive tackles) is that you weren't an "inside guy". You were a pass-rusher, period. So in practice we practiced rushing outside, rushing inside, rushing from the nose. I watched Dwight Freeney rushing from the three-technique. You just have to know how to pass rush."

"So being able to teach him inside and outside is something that we're able to do," he continued. "And obviously with him being able to work with Robert Mathis, that's another thing that I've drawn from for years, is Rob and his excellence at his position. We're able to pool together our thoughts and things we were taught, experiences we had, and pour that into a young guy like Joe."

The mental component is just as important as the physical one and Muir sees all of the right things on that front as well.

"Coaches are going to find out that he's a humble young man." Muir added. "Saying somebody is humble is kind of the average answer you hear people say, but I'm not going to put my  name on anybody that's not. You can tell that in person and you can tell that the way he carries himself. Most young men, where they mess up is on social media and putting foolishness out there. You won't see that with Joe."

Despite losing critical evaluation time this spring and summer, Strickland has racked up some major offers and could have more coming once junior film starts to hit.