Dotting the ‘Eyes: Jerron Cage will visit this weekend, 5-star quarterbacks and the fizzle factor, Trenton Gillison talk and more
Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes, and a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Cage ‘loves Notre Dame’ but isn’t thinking flip
There have been a lot of rumors that Cincinnati (Winton Woods) 4-star defensive tackle Jerron Cage, an Ohio State commitment, could eventually end up flipping to Notre Dame. Cage is almost certainly going to visit South Bend on multiple occasions this fall but there’s always more to the story when it comes to recruiting.
So why the discussion? First and foremost, the Irish landed his brother, Daniel, in 2014 and there’s always a draw when it comes to playing alongside family. Second, Cage makes no bones about his affection for Notre Dame but he also says that he’s not considering any change to his commitment.
“I’m pretty tired of hearing about (a potential flip),” Cage told Landof10. “I am committed. I have love for Notre Dame, but I am all Ohio State.”
Cage will get a chance to see the Buckeyes coaching staff this weekend when he visits for Ohio State’s season opener against Bowling Green.
“I talk to Ohio State very regularly,” he said. “I’m going up there this weekend.”
The country’s 12th-ranked defensive tackle seems very solid in his commitment to Ohio State despite a plan to see Notre Dame a few times this fall. His recruitment is a good one to watch as a fan of recruiting because it underlines an important truth that the average fan may miss: committing to one program doesn’t mean you automatically despise all others. The relationships that these recruits and their families build with college coaches over two and three years don’t just get wiped out because a decision to attend a different school happened.
Why do 5-star quarterbacks seem to fizzle so frequently?
When you think about recruiting, the quarterback position is almost always the one regarded as the most important. To win football games at any level, you have to have a big-time quarterback. Ohio State has recruited well at the position over the years, but not great, especially if you compare their NFL development at quarterback to other positions on the roster.
But maybe – just maybe – it’s not only Ohio State struggling to turn top-flight quarterback talent into big-time professionals?
Take a look at this interesting observation: Right now, there are only seven players Rivals.com ranked as 5-star quarterbacks – including incoming freshmen – that are currently on Division 1 college football rosters. It’s incredibly rare to earn that distinction, but how do those players stack up when they get on campus?
Here are those quarterbacks:
- Gunner Kiel • Cincinnati • Class of 2012
- Max Browne • USC • Class of 2013
- Kyle Allen • Houston • Class of 2014
- Deshaun Watson • Clemson • Class of 2014
- Josh Rosen • UCLA • Class of 2015
- Shea Patterson • Ole Miss • Class of 2016
- Jacob Eason • Georgia • Class of 2016
Kiel’s long and winding road to Cincinnati – he committed to Indiana first, then flipped to LSU (where he enrolled and immediately departed), then landed at Notre Dame, leaving there after a redshirt year in 2012 – is pretty intense. He started 13 games for Cincinnati in 2014 and looked to be heading toward a good career, but the fifth-year senior has been supplanted as the Bearcats starter by sophomore Hayden Moore and now seems unlikely to ever live up to the expectations. Browne, a redshirt junior at USC, will be the starter for the Trojans after sitting for three years, and Kyle Allen is sitting out this season in Houston after transferring from Texas A&M.
Yes, Deshaun Watson is an All-American and Josh Rosen seems to on that same trajectory, but the success rate on these quarterbacks – whether it’s a result of offensive system issues, coaching changes or too much hype out of high school – seems to be average at best.
What’s a realistic expectation for players with all these accolades? Should Ohio State fans temper their enthusiasm for 2018 commitment Emory Jones, a 5-star prospect?
Gillison, Ruckert and the 2018 tight end race
If there’s one position that it seemed we had all figured out for 2017, it’s the tight end spot because for months the Buckeyes seemed pretty clear that they had no intention of trying to sign one in this recruiting cycle. Then, last week, Ohio State went and offered California’s Josh Falo, a player that the Buckeyes feel they have a real shot at signing if they’re able to secure an official visit from him this fall.
So what does that do to the 2018 class? Prior to the interest in Falo, it appeared Ohio State could pursue two players at the position and seemed to be narrowing their focus to New York’s Jeremy Ruckert and Ohio (Pickerington Central) star Trenton Gillison, each of whom is a 4-star prospect and each of whom visited for the Buckeyes’ big July camp, Friday Night Lights. Ruckert has an offer, Gillison does not, but he told Rivals.com’s Marc Givler over the weekend that he’s confident things will move that direction soon and that the wait is motivating him to get even better.
“It’s making me work to be the best that I can,” he said. “Because Ohio State, they’re one of the best teams in the nation. If I’m good enough to play at Ohio State, I’m good enough to play anywhere. So if I want to play there, I’ve got to get stronger at everything, keep focused and keep pushing.”
Beyond Ruckert and Gillison, there’s still an outside chance that former Michigan commitment Leonard Taylor, an intriguing 6-foot-6, 260-pound two-way athlete from Springfield, Ohio, could get a look at tight end as well.
Stay tuned here, but watch the Falo situation because that will ultimately play a major part in what happens at tight end in 2018.
Peoples-Jones heading to visit … Nebraska?
If you’re still holding out hope that Ohio State can make a play for the country’s top-ranked wide receiver in the 2017 class, Detroit’s Donovan Peoples-Jones, it seems that ship is sailing.
Peoples-Jones, who has been focusing primarily on Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Florida State and USC, caused some intrigue Wednesday when he announced his first official visit will be taken this weekend to watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers take on Fresno State in Lincoln.
— Donovan P. Jones (@dpeoplesjones) August 31, 2016
DPJ, a star at Cass Tech High School, will make the visit with his teammate, defensive back Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who also has an offer from Ohio State. With Peoples-Jones in attendance, Nebraska could be the center of the recruiting universe this weekend as now three of the country’s Top 10 overall prospects in the 2017 class will be on hand. Joining Peoples-Jones will be Foster Sarell, the nation’s top-ranked offensive tackle, and Darnay Holmes, the second-ranked cornerback out of Calabasas, Calif.
There is not any plan for Peoples-Jones to visit Ohio State officially, though the Buckeyes would love to have a final chance to host him and his family.
Haubeil feature focuses on special kicker
Ohio State has the top-ranked recruiting class in the country for 2017, and that is because it’s full of players ranked very high at their respective positions. One of those players, kicker Blake Haubeil – No. 1 nationally – was featured on a Buffalo sports channel’s Twitter feed Wednesday and it explains a bit more about this future Buckeyes punter.
— Nick Filipowski (@NICK_WKBW) August 31, 2016
Kickers are people, too. Let’s give them some love when they deserve it.