Heralded prospects Hilliard, Cornell will be Buckeyes

Ohio State picked up two five-star prospects for its 2015 recruiting class Wednesday morning with the commitment of linebacker Justin Hilliard and defensive end Jashon Cornell.

Hilliard of Cincinnati (Xavier) and Cornell of St. Paul (Cretin-Derham Hall), Minn., made their choices public within minutes of each other during press conferences at their respective schools webcast by ESPN.

“I have decided to stay in my home state and attend The Ohio State University,” Hilliard said as the room erupted with cheers here at Xavier. “I’ve always been an Ohio State fan. It was a pretty easy choice.”

It seemed like it was a pretty easy choice for Cornell, too, who cited his relationship with OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson and other reasons picking the Buckeyes.

“I will be making my commitment to The Ohio State University,” Cornell said.

The pair picking Ohio State is major news for the Buckeyes, whose 2015 recruiting class appeared to be lagging just a month ago before picking up nine commitments since. Hilliard and Cornell are the highest rated in what are now 12 members of the class.

Hilliard is ranked No.1 among inside linebackers nationally by rivals.com; No.2 among outside linebackers by 247sports. Cornell is No.6 among strongside defensive endsnationally, according to rivals, while 247sports has him the No.3 weakside DE.

“From a ranking standpoint it’s going to make a huge difference for Ohio State,” said Bill Kurelic, veteran analyst for Bucknuts. “But the biggest thing is that they are adding two absolute difference makers on defense.

“If you want to beat the SEC team, in the context of contending for national championships, these are the kind of guys you’ve got to get.”