Ohio State signed only six Ohio players in its 21-man recruiting class in 2017. That class, which was ranked No. 2 in the country, marked the lowest percentage of signees from the Buckeye State in a single class probably, well, ever.
On signing day this past February, both Urban Meyer and his director of player personnel, Mark Pantoni, mentioned their disappointment at the low number and stated unequivocally that the goal is for more Ohio student-athletes to find their way into a scarlet and gray uniform.
So far, not so good, as just three of the Buckeyes’ 18 commits for 2018 are from Ohio. Outside of 5-star tackle Jackson Carman and 4-star defensive end Tyreke Smith, none of the state’s uncommitted prospects appear to be a top priority for Ohio State as it looks to round out what is currently the country’s top-ranked recruiting class for 2018.
Everyone knows that Carman and Smith are major targets for Ohio State and certainly the most likely uncommitted Ohio players to join the Buckeyes come signing day, but what about the “next” wave of players that we’ve talked about in this recruiting cycle?
I asked two of my recruiting analyst peers for their opinions on this matter: Which of Ohio’s remaining uncommitted prospects not named Jackson Carman or Tyreke Smith do you think has the best chance to join the Buckeyes and why?
Marc Givler, BuckeyeGrove.com:
Cincinnati Winton Woods athlete Christopher Oats.
This just has a Jaylen Harris type of feel to it. Oats, despite being linked to a few different schools throughout the spring and summer, has not committed anywhere. On Ohio State’s end, despite being pretty full at linebacker, the Buckeyes have continued to recruit Oats. Every year there seems to be an Ohio kid for whom the Buckeyes just sort of throw out the numbers and fit the kid in, and that could definitely be the case here.
Andrew Ellis, Eleven Warriors
Out of the remaining uncommitted Ohioans, I think there are two players to keep an eye on. One plays a position that is still a recruiting need while the other really doesn’t. But in this case I am going to side with the latter as the most likely addition.
The Buckeyes have three linebackers in the fold already, and they don’t need to take a fourth. Cincinnati’s Christopher Oats (Winton Woods) does hold a Buckeyes offer, but there has been very little chatter about him actually ending up in this class. Oats is a player who might be able to take on more of a pass-rushing role at the next level, and any sort of versatility is always something to watch when it comes to finding a spot for someone such as the 4-star linebacker.
Xenia wide receiver Meechi Harris is the other prospect who I still see as a possibility. Harris doesn’t have an Ohio State offer, but there definitely was some interest from both parties earlier in the process. L’Christian Smith is already in the fold and the Buckeyes are in a great spot for Kamryn Babb, but some new wide receiver offers have me wondering if perhaps Zach Smith takes another look at the 3-star wideout.
I’ve got Oats as the more likely of the two at this point, but I do think both players are worth watching as we get closer to signing day.
Because this question is so narrow, the potential answers certainly are limited. If we opened it up to “what players could Ohio State try and flip” it becomes much broader and would include a Michigan State commit or two, a Kentucky commit or, heck, even a couple Minnesota verbals.
That said, I agree with you both that the answer is likely Chris Oats. If you remember, he actually was offered before Dallas Gant, but when Luke Fickell departed for Cincinnati, so did some of the support Oats had in the Buckeyes recruiting offices, I think.
However, as players such as Micah Parsons fall off the board – and as guys such as Palaie Gaoteote and Solomon Tuliaupupu are long shots – players who are versatile and athletic become gain value, and Oats definitely is that. He’s a linebacker, but his 6-foot-4 frame makes it look like he could grow into a rush end. Ohio State has shown over the years it likes to take guys and move them down in the defense for an athletic advantage. That’s why I think Chris Oats is the most likely uncommitted player in Ohio to end up with the Buckeyes.