Ohio State’s spring game is always a huge annual recruiting event. The Buckeyes brought in nearly 50 visitors on Saturday, as confirmed by Land of 10, with several others likely flying under the radar. While much of our focus has been on the currents recruits in the 2019 and beyond — certainly for good reason — the spring game featured much more than that.
All but one of the 2018 signees, the class inked by Ohio State in February and who are already either on campus or set to join the team in June, visited on Saturday for the spring game. The opportunity to get together and spend time with one another was invaluable for these soon-to-be teammates.
“My thoughts on the game were that it was great. We have a lot of great athletes who love to compete and that’s what they did [Saturday]. My visit went very well and getting around the guys I’m going to be with for three to four years felt great,” New Jersey defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste told Land of 10 following the visit.
Jean-Baptiste was joined by fellow future defensive linemen Taron Vincent, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday and Alexander Williams. The two other defensive linemen in Ohio State’s 2018 class — defensive tackles Tommy Togiai and Antwuan Jackson Jr. — are already on campus and participated in the scrimmage.
Williams found his eyes turned towards the future and was startled by the idea of how soon he would find himself joining Togiai and Jackson in a Buckeyes uniform. It’ll be less than two months until the Columbus area native dons the scarlet and gray for the first time, if only in practice.
“It was great sir. Simply was great, seeing the Buckeye nation again and knowing within a couple months it really starts. It’s very surreal,” Williams said. “I can’t thank Coach [Urban] Meyer and Coach [Larry Johnson] enough for believing in my talents. I am ready to start. I want to be great.”
A future Ohio State defensive back, Josh Proctor, made the trip to Columbus from Owassa, Okla. Proctor is one of the few recruits with a legitimate chance to compete immediately for playing time once he arrives in June, as the safety spot next to junior Jordan Fuller remains unclaimed in the Buckeyes secondary. Proctor almost had to imagine himself in the same shoes as his future teammates. playing in front of the screaming fans.
“Every time I come back to Columbus it’s nothing but excitement and good vibes,” Proctor said. “The fans are amazing, the atmosphere is unmatched and you can’t help but imagine what it’s going to be like stepping on that field for the first time in uniform.”
That was a sentiment echoed by several other prospects, including Cameron Brown. Brown, a prospect from St. Louis, was scheduled to play wide receiver, but is now considered more likely to line up at defensive back to start his career. Notably, he was throwing up the O-H hand signs with high school teammate and fellow Ohio State signee Kamryn Babb.
“The trip was amazing. I got to see the new squad play and I’m just seeing myself playing next to them guys and winning THE BUCKEYE WAY #GoBucks,” Brown direct messaged to Land of 10 via Twitter.
The prospect of soon donning the Ohio State uniform and realizing just how close that experience is was perhaps best summed up by Virginia native and linebacker Teradja Mitchell. During the spring game, it truly hit Mitchell that he wouldn’t be sitting in these stands any time soon. Instead, he’ll be looking out at those fans the next time he arrives in Ohio Stadium.
“It was a great experience just knowing that will be my last time watching from the stands is very exciting. I’m ready to get to work with this team and accomplish big things,” Mitchell emphasized.
While we’ve largely focused on the scholarship players joining Ohio State’s squad, they weren’t the only future Buckeyes in attendance. Several preferred walk-ons coming to the program in the 2018 season traveled to the Horseshoe, including long snapper Roen McCollough. McCollough is the younger brother of current Buckeyes long snapper Liam McCollough and the chance to see his brother and the other specialists go to work in the spring game was exciting.
“Coming to Ohio State is always a great experience. It’s exciting to meet a ton of the incoming guys in my class, as well as following up with a bunch of current players,” McCollough said. “Seeing Liam have perfect snaps, [kicker] Sean [Nuernberger] go 100-percent on field goals and [punter] Dru [Chrisman] flip the field really well shows how strong the special teams unit is and makes me look forward to being a Buckeye.”
All of these future Buckeyes will be counting down the days until Ohio State’s summer semester begins in June and they can enroll and begin their college careers. It won’t be long until they are in uniform and performing in the Horseshoe themselves.