It’s May 22, 2017, and we’re about six months from the first signing period of the 2018 recruiting class. Remember, prospects can now sign a letter of intent during a 3-day span in December, so I figured it’s high time we step back and evaluate the ins and outs of the Ohio State recruiting class thus far.
We’ll look at the current state of affairs, what players could be on the verge of joining Urban Meyer’s program, and assess the status of each commit. We’ve spoken regularly about the nature of recruiting and how quickly it can change, and this cycle will certainly be no exception.
Let’s see what’s what.
Ohio State 2018 recruiting breakdown by state
The Buckeyes brand has gone national. Ohio State has tapped seven different states (six if you’re only talking where the players go to high school) for its 2018 recruiting class. After lamenting the lack of Ohio flavor in its 2017 class, Ohio State has only two players currently committed from the state.
- Ohio: Jaelen Gill, Dallas Gant
- Florida: Brian Snead, Sevyn Banks
- Georgia: Emory Jones, Brenton Cox
- California: Jaiden Woodbey
- Maryland: Taron Vincent (IMG Academy, Florida)
- Oklahoma: Josh Proctor
- Tennessee: Max Wray
Last week, Land of 10 broke down the names to continue watching inside of Ohio. A number of the state’s best prospects, for various reasons, do not have Ohio State offers. That could change, and players such as Xavier Peters will truly shape the final product that becomes the 2018 signing class.
Who are the players most likely to commit next?
This is where things get tricky, partly because I am not prescient, and partly because even if I were blessed with such foresight, teenagers change their minds every 15 minutes.
That being said, I know everyone wants to know “who is next,” so let’s try to pinpoint a few logical targets.
- L’Christian Smith
- The 4-star wide receiver from Dayton, Ohio, powerhouse Wayne High School (OK, fine, technically it’s Huber Heights) was seemingly falling away from the Buckeyes for months, but an early May visit to Ohio State seems to have set the record straight in his recruitment. There is no public timeline for a decision, but if “Blue” Smith wants to wear scarlet and gray — and I believe he does — then there’s no time like the present to knock out this decision so he can enjoy his summer and senior season without all the dramatics of recruiting.
- Teradja Mitchell
- Though many believe Florida State has again become the school to beat here, Ohio State hasn’t given up the chase. I believe OSU is still in a position to win the battle for the country’s second-ranked inside linebacker. Mitchell last visited Ohio State the weekend of April 8, and when he left Columbus optimism was very high that he’d ultimately end up playing for the Buckeyes. He will make a college decision within the next two weeks, saying that June 4 is his self-imposed deadline.
- Jake Kradel
- A college decision was coming on June 10 for Kradel, and since he received an offer from Ohio State in mid-April, the Buckeyes have been the presumed favorite to land the 6-foot-4, 290-pound interior line prospect from Butler, Pa. However, recent offers from Wisconsin and Iowa – and uncertainty about whether or not he’d be a “take” for Ohio State – has country’s 42nd-ranked guard exploring his options. Will he camp in Columbus this June? That could swing things back toward the Buckeyes.
- Aeneas Hawkins
- Ohio State is going to have to make a decision in the near future — if they haven’t already — about whether this Cincinnati 4-star prospect is a part of their defensive puzzle. For my money, he should be, as his versatility and athleticism fit well with what Larry Johnson Sr. does with his defensive linemen. He’ll be making his college choice “this summer.”
There are other players on this list as well, such as Erie (Pa.) 4-star offensive lineman Juice Scruggs, who bear watching, but the point is that anything can happen at anytime. Stay frosty.
What, me worry?
The hardest part of recruiting isn’t getting a player to commit to your school — it’s keeping them committed once they’ve made a “decision.” Every day, players from all over the country, committed or not, are being hounded by coaches and media and parents and friends, their ears burning with hundreds of reasons why this place or that place is the right place.
It can be mentally exhausting and emotionally draining for these kids, especially those who have committed to what they feel is their best option. To have friends and coaches and family pulling in different directions can be difficult to handle.
What’s the deal with Ohio State’s current commits? Let’s run them down.
- Emory Jones | 5-star | Quarterback | Franklin (Ga.) Heard County
- Should you worry? Yes, maybe a little. It’s hard to tell the entire SEC no. Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia are all actively trying to sway Jones from Ohio State, and he says he’ll take a look at a few schools this summer. Jones committed to the Buckeyes last July and has been a major part of their recruiting efforts.
- Jaelen Gill | 4-star | Athlete | Westerville (Ohio) South
- Should you worry? No.
- Brian Snead | 4-star | Running back | Seffner (Fla.) Armwood
- Should you worry? Remarkably, no. Snead has made no other visits since his commitment to Ohio State in July 2016. He’s locked in with the Buckeyes as long as they want him, and it seems they do. One potential fly in the ointment? If Ohio State can find a way to land 5-star running back Zamir White, will Snead feel he should look around? That’s up in the air.
- Max Wray | 4-star | Offensive tackle | Franklin (Tenn.)
- Should you worry? Nope.
- Taron Vincent | 5-star | Defensive tackle | Baltimore (Md.), IMG Academy (Fla.)
- Should you worry? No, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see Vincent accompany teammates around SEC Country on official visits this fall.
- Brenton Cox | 4-star | Defensive end | Stockbridge (Ga.)
- Should you worry? Yes, maybe a little. Cox was all Georgia prior to taking a good look at Ohio State, and there’s no doubt that people around him will continue to try and keep him close to home. To this point, Cox has done and said all the right things, but as it gets closer to the end of his high school career, I imagine things will tighten up.
- Dallas Gant | 4-star | Outside linebacker | Toledo (Ohio) St. John’s Jesuit
- Should you worry? No.
- Sevyn Banks | 4-star | Cornerback | Orlando (Fla.) Jones
- Should you worry? Yeah, probably. This one was a strange commitment when it happened in late April, but Banks, who sat out his junior season due to a torn ACL, is very high on Ohio State. The Buckeyes like how he projects at the next level. Still, there’s some uncertainty about how this one plays out. Whenever a player from Florida commits, there will be questions about how long it lasts.
- Jaiden Woodbey | 4-star | Defensive back | Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
- Should you worry? Yes. Ohio State is going to have a battle on its hands for Woodbey until the day he signs. The country’s third-ranked prospect loves Columbus and the Buckeyes, but he’s got hands pulling him in every direction on a daily basis. Will there come a time when the Ohio State staff decides it can’t keep trying to convince him? There are dozens of big-time players wanting to commit to Urban Meyer, so that’s something they’ll have to think about.
- Josh Proctor | 4-star | Defensive back | Owasso (Okla.)
- Should you worry? Sure, probably. Like Woodbey, Proctor committed to Ohio State rather than a local powerhouse (USC for Woodbey, Oklahoma in this case) that everyone expected him to play for. There’s not a lot of discussion about Proctor at this point and he — along with his parents — thoroughly researched the Buckeyes before making a decision. But distance and local loyalties can sway even the most solid commitment. Right now, though, there’s little to worry about here.