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.
Quarterback targets heading elsewhere
Two of Ohio State’s top quarterback targets instead took their talents to the Sunshine State in recent days. Four-star Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley pro-style passer Sam Howell and 3-star Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances Academy dual-threat quarterback Jalon Jones came off the board. Both held offers from the Buckeyes.
Howell committed to Florida State on Monday, a little more than a week after he visited Tallahassee on an unofficial visit. Jones chose the Florida Gators on Saturday while on a weekend-long unofficial visit in Gainesville.
So what does all of that mean for the Buckeyes?
It certainly thins out the list of Ohio State’s realistic quarterback targets. I never considered Howell or Jones to be leaning toward the Buckeyes or as the top target at the position for the program, but they were certainly in the top tier of quarterbacks being considered. Of Ohio State’s 11 quarterback offers in the 2019 recruiting class, seven have now committed elsewhere.
This means that Ohio State’s pursuit of Grant Gunnell, the No. 2 pro-style passer in the 2019 class according to the 247Sports composite rankings, becomes that much more critical.
Gunnell is now unquestionably the top target at the position for the Buckeyes and they’re locked in a battle, primarily with LSU, to land the Houston St. Pius X superstar. Oregon, Oklahoma State, Arizona, and even Texas A&M, where Gunnell used to be committed, are also worth watching.
Three other recruits, all 4-star dual-threat quarterbacks, have Ohio State offers and remain uncommitted. California native Jayden Daniels, Eugene (Ore.) product Michael Johnson Jr., and Iowa prospect Max Duggan round out the quartet for the Buckeyes.
Daniels has never visited Ohio State’s campus and there’s little to say about a prospect more than 2,000 miles away until he makes that trip. Johnson is the son of the Oregon Ducks wide receivers coach and has also seen contact with Ohio State fall off in recent months.
Duggan appears to be the big second option behind Gunnell at this point. He visited Ohio State on March 7 and seemingly has the Buckeyes, TCU, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, and Notre Dame as his primary schools going into the stretch run. He’s previously said he hopes to commit by the end of April, but it’s unclear if that plan is still in place.
If Duggan were to commit on that timeline, it seems unlikely it would be Ohio State unless something significant changes. The Buckeyes may need to work to get him back on campus before he commits or convince Duggan to push back his timeline.
The vast majority of Ohio State’s eggs are now in the Gunnell basket, which is a high-risk/high-reward proposition. He’s among the most talented players in the country and has a chance to set every major passing record in Texas history. Gunnell is worth fighting for. However, the Buckeyes are wading into the Houston area against programs with long and strong track records of winning big-time recruiting battles there.
If the worst comes for Ohio State and they miss on these remaining four offered prospects, they still have a few options. They can always circle back on a player such as Grant Tisdale, who’s now committed to Ole Miss after he fell down the Buckeyes’ board somewhat.
They could also choose to offer and pursue an in-state option such as Dayton (Ohio) Archbishop Alter quarterback Connor Bazelak, a 3-star pro-style quarterback with 10 offers from Power 5 programs. He’s far and away established himself as Ohio’s best 2019 quarterback.
This isn’t a death knell for Ohio State quarterback recruiting in 2019. Far from it. If the Buckeyes land Gunnell or another blue-chip prospect, this will all be a footnote in the history of the recruiting class that everyone forgets down the road. However, the difficulty has been raised and the stakes are now higher. There’s less room for error for Urban Meyer and his staff than before.
Ohio State makes top 3 for 2019 DE, commitment coming soon
Ohio State has made the top 3 for 2019 defensive end Ani Izuchukwu, a 4-star prospect out of Nashville (Tenn.) Davidson Academy. Izuchukwu is one of the top defensive ends in the country, ranked as the No. 12 weakside defensive end and No. 237 prospect overall in the 2019 class.
Izuchukwu tweeted the announcement, listing the Buckeyes as one of his finalists alongside Alabama and Mississippi State, noting that a commitment would be coming soon. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Izuchukwu has had an offer from Ohio State since April 2017 and speaks frequently with assistants Larry Johnson and Tony Alford. But he has not been back to the Columbus campus since October.
If the Buckeyes are going to land Izuchukwu, he would have to return to Ohio State soon before announcing his commitment. He planned to travel up in late March, but did not ultimately make the unofficial visit. Unless something changes late with visit news, this looks like an Alabama-Mississippi State battle.
Some of Ohio State’s other top targets at defensive end are Ohio natives Zach Harrison and Noah Potter (5-star and 4-star recruits, respectively), 5-star IMG Academy (Fla.) product and Georgia commit Nolan Smith II, and 4-star Kansas native Marcus Hicks.
Elite New Jersey athlete names Buckeyes to his top 6
Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic is one of the top programs in the country and 2019 athlete Ronnie Hickman is one of the school’s top prospects. Hickman is a 6-1, 200-pound athletic dynamo, regarded as the No. 122 prospect overall and No. 13 athlete in the 2019 class.
On Monday, Hickman took to Twitter to include the Buckeyes in his top 6 programs. He listed them alongside Penn State, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Florida, and Virginia Tech, most of whom he’s visited recently. Hickman most recently visited Ohio State on Feb. 3, one of several unofficial visits he’s made to Columbus.
Ohio State is recruiting Hickman as a safety, but some programs view him as a wide receiver. He’s joined on the Buckeyes safety board by top prospects such as Nick Cross, Jordan Battle, Jaylen McCollough, and Daxton Hill. Battle and McCollough are expected on campus for the April 14 spring game, while Cross visited on April 2.
The 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions currently read 100 percent in Ohio State’s favor for Hickman, a count that includes my own prediction. A source shared earlier this year that while on an unofficial visit to Notre Dame, Hickman was gushing to other recruits about Ohio State and multiple sources have confirmed that the Buckeyes seem to be the team to beat.
The larger question is if Ohio State will push for Hickman’s commitment as it continues to pursue that list of elite prospects. The Buckeyes are in strong position, but it will be interesting see how the two parties’ timelines match up. Notre Dame and Penn State seem to be the next two teams in the hunt for Hickman, per sources.
Ohio State offers visiting tight end
Ohio State has offered 2020 tight end Michael Mayer, a 6-5 and 235-pound prospect who spent Monday making his first unofficial visit to Columbus to check out the Buckeyes. Mayer plays for Alexandria (Ky.) Covington Catholic, a program just across the Ohio border from Cincinnati.
The Buckeyes join an ultra-impressive offer list for Mayer that already included Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, Penn State, and many other Power 5 programs at this early stage of his recruitment. Mayer does not yet have a composite ranking, but 247Sports considers Mayer the No. 5 tight end nationally in the 2020 class.
While Ohio State has only landed two recruits from Kentucky in the Meyer era — kicker Sean Nuernberger and defensive back Rodjay Burns, who later transferred home to Louisville — they’ve been in the hunt for many of the state’s top prospects. It will be intriguing to see how the dynamic of Mayer’s proximity to Ohio plays into this recruitment.
Four-star defensive back puts the Buckeyes in top group
It speaks to the unbelievable level of recruiting at Ohio State under Meyer that it seems trite and repetitive to constantly mention how many top lists the Buckeyes are making for 4- and 5-star prospects every week.
Four-star Avon (Conn.) Old Farms athlete Marquis Wilson, considered a defensive back by most programs, is the latest blue-chipper to include Ohio State in his top schools. Wilson is a 6-foot, 175-pound prospect, ranked as the No. 283 prospect overall and No. 24 athlete in the 2019 class.
Wilson’s list was Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama, Pitt, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Iowa and Syracuse. Penn State is considered the favorite for Wilson, leading the way with 100 percent of Crystal Ball predictions on 247Sports.
It was previously reported by multiple outlets that Wilson would be taking an official visit to Ohio State on April 14 for the spring game. However, the Connecticut standout did not mention the Buckeyes as one of his planned officials in a conversation with Land of 10’s Tyler Donohue at Nike’s The Opening regional event in New Jersey on Saturday.
Wilson only noted confirmed dates to Penn State (April 21) and Pitt (June 14) and also added that Iowa would receive an official visit. A Buckeyes source confirmed that Wilson would not be visiting Ohio State during the spring game.
“I want to commit around June, early July. No later than early July,” Wilson told Donohue.
He’s developed a close relationship with fellow standout Connecticut defensive back Tyler Rudolph, another 4-star prospect with Ohio State in his offer list. Rudolph and Wilson have taken many visits together and I’m expecting the duo to end up at Penn State as it stands.
In addition to the school listed in his top group, Wilson told Donohue that Florida may receive a visit. After not naming the Gators to his top 10, it’s unclear if that plan will hold.
Miss a day of the Ohio State recruiting notebook? Don’t fret! You can get all of the previous versions of Dotting the Eyes here.