Each summer, as the hours of the off-season wind down, Ohio State’s football program welcomes hundreds of their highest-priority targets to Columbus for Friday Night Lights, the Buckeyes premier recruiting event and football camp.
This year, Friday Night Lights is July 22 and, as usual, live from Ohio Stadium.
The event begins at 7pm and is free for all fans and includes free parking at the Horseshoe. Come out and check out Urban Meyer, his coaching staff and team – as well a host of Buckeye legends – as they coach up the next generation.
The players are beginning to arrive at Ohio State already and the drama surrounding Friday Night Lights has begun to heat up.
Related: Defensive stars to watch at Friday Night Lights
Dozens of the Buckeyes top targets in the 2017, 2018 and even the 2019 classes will be in attendance, taking their shot at impressing the Ohio State coaching staff in front of fans, current Buckeyes and a gaggle of media in town to cover the event.
What are the biggest stories and names to watch for on the offensive side of the football? Let’s take a look.
Key Visitors: 2017 commitments Tate Martell and Danny Clark, 2018 top target Emory Jones
Big Story? There is no doubt that the quarterback position will provide a significant amount of intrigue tonight at Ohio Stadium. For the first time since the Buckeyes began pursuing him, Tate Martell will be in town at the same time as Danny Clark, who has been committed to Ohio State since 2013. There is absolutely a battle brewing here to see who will emerge as “the man” out of the two quarterbacks and both are expected to work out tonight for Urban Meyer and Tim Beck. You won’t find two players this competitive anywhere in the country and it should provide some epic moments, if you can get epic moments in a short and t-shirt environment.
What about…Emory Jones? The Buckeyes top target in 2018, Jones visited Tennessee on Thursday and will be visiting Columbus through Sunday, giving Ohio State what may be his final visit before he makes a college decision. I do not expect a public commitment this weekend, but the Buckeyes should know exactly where they stand as he departs on Sunday.
Key Visitors: 2018 offers Jaelen Gill, TJ Pledger, Brian Snead
Big Story? The big story at running back is who won’t be attending as earlier this week it was confirmed that 5-star running back Cam Akers (Clinton, Miss.) revealed he’d not make the trip to Ohio that he’d been planning to. Akers visit was the big show, but there’s still plenty to watch for, especially with Columbus stud Jaelen Gill in attendance and California’s TJ Pledger, the country’s seventh-ranked 2018 running back. Pledger is making his second visit to Ohio State in a week and hoping to move up the board for the Buckeyes.
What about…Pickerington (Ohio) Central’s Morgan Ellison? The 2017 running back prospect has lit up the camp scene all summer, earning MVP honors of Nike’s The Opening regional in Columbus in May but he’s still waiting for his first “big” offer. He’s been at Ohio State three times in the last month and will once again try and prove that he’s a capable second back in the Buckeyes recruiting class.
Key Visitors: 2017 Trevon Grimes, 2017 Tyjon Lindsey, 2017 Jaylen Harris, 2019 Julian Barnett
Big Story? Trevon Grimes, the country’s fourth-ranked wide receiver and Tyjon Lindsey, the country’s fifth-ranked wide receiver, will team up in Columbus and find themselves working side-by-side for the second time this month after being teammates at The Opening. Grimes has not been to Ohio State since his freshman year but the Buckeyes are still the runaway leader for his commitment, which will be revealed on August 24. This trip is just about comfort and making sure the feelings that he had about Columbus and Ohio State haven’t changed since then. For Lindsey, things are a bit tighter as Nebraska and recently Auburn have put some doubts in his head. Can Zach Smith, who has been “the guy” for Lindsey for much of the last year, seal the deal? Beyond those two, will Jaylen Harris decide that he’s ready to be a Buckeye or continue to wait and possibly wait himself out of a spot at Ohio State? The 4-star wide receiver from Cleveland was at Tennessee on Thursday.
What about…L’Christian “Blue” Smith, one of Ohio’s top prospects in the 2018 class? Blue won’t make the visit because he’s in Las Vegas playing basketball. With Blue and Rivals Top 100 players JoJo Scates out, I’m looking towards Akron Archbishop Hoban wide receiver Nate Bauer, a 2018 prospect, as one to emerge.
Key Visitors: 2018 prospects Zack Kuntz, Jeremy Ruckert, Anthony Torres, Tyneil Hopper
Big Story? Ohio State isn’t recruiting a tight end in 2017 so the 2018 class is going to get a lot of attention and tonight may play a big part in who the top targets end up being. Kuntz, out of Camp Hill (Pa.) is the country’s top-ranked player at the position but right now it may be Lindenhurst (N.Y.) 4-star prospect Jeremy Ruckert that’s getting the most love. Tyneil Hopper, a 4-star prospect out of Roswell (Ga.) is in town and hoping to earn an offer as well after turning heads during the Buckeyes satellite camp at Lawrenceville Central High School in Gwinn
What about…Trenton Gillison? He may be the tight end most likely to end up a Buckeye in the future but the Pickerington (Central) standout still doesn’t have an offer from Ohio State. Will that change tonight? He was very impressive during a June one-day camp with the Buckeyes but everyone knows the Buckeyes like to play things a little slower with in-state prospects.
Key Visitors: 2017 commitment Josh Myers, 2017 Thayer Munford, 2018 Jack Carman, 2018 Blaine Scott, 2018 Matthew Jones,
Big Story? With their 2017 offensive line haul already finished (probably), there’s not much intrigue right now for Greg Studrawa and the Buckeyes offensive line recruiting. Massillon’s Thayer Munford will be a guy that passes the look test but barring something significant happening to a current commitment or two, he’s unlikely to see an offer come his way. Blaine Scott will not work out but he’s a guy that could see an offer extended soon. Carman, Ohio’s top-ranked player in 2018 won’t work out but he’s going to be close to Meyer and the Buckeyes staff all night: he’s a top priority in that class regardless of position.
What about…Matthew Jones is one of the country’s more interesting prospects. The Erasmus Hall (Brooklyn, N.Y.) star can play offensive line or defensive line and is a big fan of Ohio State. The Buckeyes aren’t entirely sure where they see him playing yet according to sources but expect to see him work out at offensive line tonight.
Stay tuned to Landof10.com for an update on the key names and stories from the defensive side of the ball.