There are few things better than a spring football game (also known as a practice in front of 100,000 or so people) to really get some juice going for a recruiting class. Over the years, Ohio State has used this exhibition as a chance to showcase its program under sunny skies to recruits from all over the country. Every year, the list of visitors grows longer and the event turns more into a party for the program rather than an afternoon to iron out the last remaining kinks of spring football.
And that’s perfectly OK.
Recruiting is an around-the-clock monster and there’s never a bad time to bring your top targets, and your committed players, together for a couple of days of relationship building and rapport growing.
With more than 50 top names expected to visit Columbus this weekend, it’s hard to break down the 3 most important guests, but hey, it’s Friday and it is 3 p.m. and that means its time for our recruiting 3 for 3. Once again, I reached out to my friends, Marc Givler of Rivals.com and Alex Gleitman of 247Sports.com, to give their insight as well.
We, remarkably, almost agreed entirely on our lists. There’s just one slight deviation, but an argument can be made in either direction, certainly.
- Givler: Jackson Carman, Emory Jones, Anthony Cook
- Gleitman: Carman, Jones, Dallas Gant
- Birm: Carman, Jones, Cook
The 3 most important Ohio State spring game visitors
Ohio’s top 2018 prospect sits atop this week’s list.
If Ohio State wants to maintain its place at the top of the recruiting world alongside Alabama, there’s one thing that simply can’t happen: it cannot lose Ohio’s best prospect to Clemson.
That is the possibility the Buckeyes face as Jackson Carman, a 6-foot-6, 347-pound offensive tackle from Fairfield, continues to say all the right things about the Tigers. And that is giving Ohio State fans all the wrong feelings.
It’s a simple problem for the Buckeyes, though it’s one that is, at this moment, unfixable: Carman is thinking he’d like to leave the state for college.
Ohio State was the longtime leader for Carman’s services and most still believe he’ll end up in Columbus, but confidence is waning. This weekend, with a host of the state’s top prospects on hand, the Buckeyes get a chance to showcase for Carman why he fits into their program on the field and why Ohio State, as a school, is the right fit for him as a person.
There are very, very few “must gets” in recruiting these days for Ohio State, but Carman is one. The challenge for the Buckeyes is to demonstrate that without putting too much pressure on Carman. They’ve got to show him why there’s no place better for his development and his future beyond a simple “because you’re from Ohio.”
You might not have been expecting to see an Ohio State commit on this list but alas, here sits 5-star quarterback commit Emory Jones. The Franklin (Ga.) product committed to the Buckeyes last July and for months seemed entirely set on his decision, disavowing any interest in other programs and recruiting out loud and at every turn for Urban Meyer’s program.
That’s exactly what Ohio State wanted and needed out of him. After a pair of coaching changes in January, things have gotten a little weird with Jones, and that’s why this weekend’s visit is so vital to the Buckeyes. This weekend is an important barometer for the Buckeyes and the relationship they have with their future quarterback.
From Alex Gleitman:
Despite what he is saying publicly, actions speak louder than words, and Jones is certainly looking around. He’s been on a trip to Alabama and a somewhat secret overnight visit to Georgia this spring. Trips to schools in Florida have been discussed, and officials, at least a few, will likely happen this fall. That’s why it is so important Ohio State got him back on campus this coming weekend, as he’ll get the chance to talk to the coaches, build a further relationship with Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson, see the new offense up close and personal, and spend time with fellow recruits. The Buckeyes are still in the driver’s seat here, and this visit will go far toward keeping Jones solid in Ohio State’s class.
In the years since Tom Herman left Ohio, Urban Meyer has been able, for the most part, to avoid competing directly against his former protege on the recruiting trail. That ends with Anthony Cook, the country’s second-ranked cornerback and a 5-star prospect from Houston’s Lamar High School. To make matters more challenging? Herman’s replacement in Ohio, Tim Beck, dominated Texas recruiting for the Buckeyes during his 2 seasons in Columbus but has joined Herman in Austin working for the Longhorns. This w0n’t be an easy battle for Kerry Coombs to win, but Cook’s weekend visit is the first bullet in the gun for the Buckeyes.
From Marc Givler:
If Ohio State is to have a chance to pull in the 5-star defensive back, history says it must get an unofficial visit. Whenever you get an unofficial visit from a big-time out-of-region recruit, the odds improve dramatically. Many on the ground in Houston feel the Buckeyes can be a serious player in this recruitment and this trip could set them up to be just that.