July 2, 2014

Hilliard to the Buckeyes

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After receiving more than 50 scholarship offers from schools nationwide, Cincinnati St. Xavier four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard decided to go with the home state school on Wednesday.

"Me and my parents sat down and talked about everything," Hilliard said. "We looked over the three big things I was looking for and that was getting a great education, where I feel comfortable and where I can win a national championship.

"We all came together on Ohio State."

The choice of Ohio State means the Buckeyes are keeping one of the top prospects in the 2015 class in-state, and Hilliard is proud to represent his home state school.

"That was one of the things I thought would be really cool -- playing in front of my home state and people that I know," Hilliard said. "My parents can hopefully come to every one of my games and I definitely have a lot of pride in my home state."

Although staying close to home was a bonus, it was not as much of a consideration as the relationships he has built within the Ohio State program. Hilliard's decision was preceded by a visit to Columbus two weekends ago, which mostly involved hanging out with current members of the team.

"Those are the guys you are going to be around every day," Hilliard said. "When I went up there, the guys were really cool, especially Raekwon (McMillan) and (Sam) Hubbard -- some of my really good friends right now. That really came in to play and I think that was one of the biggest things."

The relationship Hilliard built with members of the Ohio State coaching staff was also a factor in his choice.

"The two main coaches recruiting me were coach (Urban) Meyer and coach (Luke) Fickell," Hilliard said. "I have talked with them almost every day of the week for the past two months. They have been really great during the recruiting process and they got to know my mom, my dad and (brother) C.J."

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Hilliard could project inside or outside at the next level, and Ohio State is looking for him to come in at their weakside linebacker position.

"I think in their scheme I would definitely play more of WILL," Hilliard said. "I like that position because you get to fly around, blitz and make plays."

Hilliard is the eighth class of 2015 commitment in the last month for Ohio State and the 11th overall in the class. He plans to keep that momentum rolling for the Buckeyes by encouraging other prospects he knows around the country to join him in Columbus.

"I think we can easily be a top 3 class," Hilliard said. "Hopefully me and the other guys can get together and recruit some more guys. Josh Sweat is one of the bigger ones."

For now, Hilliard is the top ranked prospect in this 2015 class for Ohio State, checking in as the No. 49 prospect overall.

Josh Helmholdt is a Midwest Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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