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.
Another Friday Night Lights is in the books and things couldn’t have gone much better than they did for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State added commitment No. 15 in their 2017 class (Hyattsville, Md. defensive end Chase Young) right before camp broke and just about an hour later they landed No. 1 for the 2018 class as Seffner (Fla.) 4-star running back Brian Snead said yes to Urban Meyer.
While the commitments will certainly draw the most attention, there were plenty of other players worth watching creating stories of their own.
What will we be talking about the most after the 2016 edition of Friday Night Lights?
Chase Young picks the Buckeyes over Maryland and Bama
It was not the plan, according to Chase Young, but when he knew, he knew. That’s when he decided to commit to Ohio State.
“Nope, I didn’t think I’d commit during this trip,” Young told Landof10 after Friday Night Lights. “I just decided towards the end of the night it was the right fit and the right time.”
RELATED: Landof10 talks with Chase Young from the field after Friday Night Lights
When he committed, Young was nearly tackled by a euphoric Larry Johnson, Sr., who has been the main force in his recruitment. Throughout the night, you could see the momentum swelling towards a possible commitment.
“He didn’t tell me,” Young’s mother shared with Landof10. “I saw him walking over and I thought it may be happening. We’re happy. We love it here.”
It was easy to see why. While Young’s family was on the turf at Ohio State, they were flanked nearly the entire evening by not just Johnson, but also current Buckeyes like Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Dwayne Haskins, Matt Burrell and others. Sam Hubbard was one of the first to greet him when he arrived in Columbus on Thursday afternoon. The entire Ohio State coaching staff was there to welcome him.
“I think family, it’s more family oriented,” Young said of Ohio State versus Alabama, where he was for three days earlier this week. “I feel more needed and wanted (at Ohio State).”
Danny Clark, Tate Martell and the value of competition
Coming into Friday evening, one of the biggest storylines to watch was the interaction and competition between Ohio State 2017 commitments Danny Clark and Tate Martell and the pair didn’t disappoint.
Clark was – and I say this with 100-percent honesty – better on Friday night than he’s been at any single event or game that I’ve watched him in since his freshman year at Massillon. He was accurate with the ball, he had major zip on nearly every throw and was eager to take as many reps as he could. After being sort of off-the-radar for a few months as the Buckeyes pursued Martell, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Clark was confident and calm and by the end of the night had a touch of that old familiar swagger to him. It was good to see.
As for Martell’s presence? It didn’t faze the Akron Archbishop Hoban star one bit.
From Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com:
“I don’t care who they bring in,” Clark told Wasserman. “I don’t care if they bring in Joe Namath, I don’t care if they bring in Aaron Rodgers. I am going to come in and compete and win the job.”
Talking to a few different folks after Friday Night Lights, I had an interesting point made to me about Clark, who has been committed to Ohio State since December of 2013.
“Maybe it’s a good thing for Danny Clark to be an underdog for once,” someone said to me. “He’s been ‘the man’ for so long that having to fight for it may be good for him.”
Clark – last night – may have been the more consistent passer. Martell struggled to find a rhythm with wide receivers that were – admittedly – not really up to par and it was clear that he may have been pressing a little bit in an effort to try and impress the fans and recruits in attendance. Martell’s strengths as a quarterback, the intangible things, aren’t going to necessarily flash in a setting like Friday Night Lights and there’s no panic from him.
After watching Martell, the country’s second-ranked dual-threat passer, twice in the last three weeks, you can see two things plain as day. First, the guys around him love him. He’s a leader without trying to be and he’s very, very football smart. Two, he’s trying too hard to prove himself in settings that he doesn’t need to prove himself. I imagine he’ll find some solace in the conclusion of the “recruiting season” because he’ll be able to get back to doing what he does the best: winning real football games.
One final thought on this pair of 2017 commitments? They were the only committed Buckeyes working out at the camp and that’s not a surprise. You may not find two guys who love to compete more than Danny Clark and Tate Martell and the duo may end up being really good for one another throughout their Ohio State careers.
Emory Jones is going to be really, really good
While the 2017 commitments were a big story, it was a 2018 quarterback – Franklin (Ga.) 4-star Emory Jones – that stole the show. The reality of the matter is that even with Clark and Martell in attendance, a number of people I spoke with felt that Jones was the best quarterback on hand.
He’s not close to the physical specimen that Clark or Martell are, but when you put things together piece by piece? Jones’ combination of size, speed, arm-strength and still-to-be-tapped-into potential make him – potentially – a really special quarterback. He can make every throw and does it effortlessly. He moves very well in the pocket and is even more dangerous out of it.
“Ask yourself,” one well-connected observer reflected at the end of the night. “Did we have a quarterback that good here last year for camp? What about the year before that? The answer is no. Once he learns the game? Look out.”
What about his recruitment? Jones visited Tennessee on Thursday and while that visit was disconcerting for the Buckeyes, I am confident, after talking to multiple sources on Friday night, that the country’s second-ranked 2018 quarterback will end up playing his college football in Columbus.
I don’t think a commitment will come this weekend, it’d not be a complete shock if he pulled the proverbial trigger for Ohio State before he leaves on Sunday.
2018 4-star running back Brian Snead commits
As the media gathered outside of the gates of Ohio Stadium waiting for the majority of the prospects in attendance to exit the camp, the news that Armwood High School (Seffner, Fla.) 2018 running back Brian Snead had committed to the Buckeyes began to spread. Snead, the country’s sixth-ranked running back, tweeted out the news himself and it took only a few minutes for a source close to Ohio State to confirm the surprise verbal.
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound back has 12 offers – including from Michigan, Florida and others – but he regularly listed the Buckeyes as his favorite since they offered him in May of 2015. Still, his commitment caught everyone by surprise because, well, he’d never visited and he’s from Florida and the Buckeyes have one of the country’s best 2018 running backs (Westerville’s Jaelen Gill) playing just miles from Ohio Stadium.
So what now? There’s a lot of time until signing day 2018 and generally speaking a commitment this early from an out-of-state prospect is unlikely to last. Typically it’s just a sign that the player in question really likes your school.
Brian Snead really likes the Buckeyes and we’ll see what happens from here.
Tyjon Lindsey is better than you think he is
It’s hard to say that a 5-star wide receiver is “underrated” but after getting to see a lot of Corona (Calif.) Centennial wideout Tyjon Lindsey over the last month that’s exactly the word I’d use to describe him. It’s not that he’s not valued, because he is, but I think – because he’s short – he’s always sort of mentioned with an asterisk.
“Yeah, Tyjon is really good.*”
“Tyjon Lindsey can’t be covered and he’s really fast and catches everything.*”
Throw away the asterisk. Lindsey is an absolute menace on the football and he knows it. In one-on-one situations he abuses anyone he finds in his way, including 5-star cornerback Darnay Holmes a few times on Friday night. The 5-foot-8, 180-pound Lindsey is a game-changer, period.
He’s the ideal slot receiver in Ohio State’s offense and this visit to Columbus may have sealed the deal on his recruitment.
Michigan 2019 two-way lineman offered
One player to watch coming into Friday Night Lights was 2019 Belleville (Mich.) standout Devontae Dobbs. A 6-foot-4, 240-pound two-way lineman for the Tigers, Dobbs was very impressive during the event and earned a scholarship offer from Ohio State.
— Devontae Dobbs (@Devontae_Dobbs) July 23, 2016
Dobbs, likely to end up a Top 100 player in the 2019 recruiting class, also picked up an offer from Auburn earlier this week following a visit with the Tigers.