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 recruiting intrigue continues for Ohio State
Ohio State’s 2019 quarterback recruiting continues to gain steam and intrigue as the spring turns toward the summer.
If you haven’t been following the blow-by-blow details of the quarterback situation, there’s a lot to dive into. Since the start of May, several major developments have occurred, though perhaps none bigger than the Buckeyes losing redshirt junior Joe Burrow to transfer. Although I don’t expect that decision to change Ohio State’s recruiting plans, it does open the door for some interesting possibilities.
Ohio State also hosted two Big Ten quarterback commits for unofficial visits. Michigan State commit Dwan Mathis visited with teammates shortly after two weekend camps in Ohio, just days after being offered by the Buckeyes. Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz also made an unofficial visit following the camps, the first time he had been to Ohio State. Both are 4-star prospects and among the top pro-style quarterback recruits in the country.
Another elite pro-style passer — 4-star prospect Grant Gunnell of Houston St. Pius X — remains a top Ohio State target as well. Arizona and LSU are challenging the Buckeyes, but I think Ohio State remains the favorite as a June decision approaches.
You can now add another name to the board for the Buckeyes. Ohio State offered South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski, a California native and 4-star prospect. The 6-foot-4, 222-pound Hilinski is ranked as the No. 166 overall prospect and No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports composite rankings. He is the younger brother of former Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who tragically took his own life in January.
The Buckeyes are expected to be a major contender for Hilinski despite his commitment to South Carolina. Ohio State, UCLA, LSU and Ole Miss are among the schools who are working hard to pry Hilinski away from the Gamecocks — each of those first three schools offered after he committed to South Carolina. In a year where quarterback talent is down nationally, Ohio State and other programs must get creative in their search for a talented prospect.
South Carolina likely won’t feel comfortable about this commitment until Hilinski signs.
Gunnell, Mertz, Mathis and Hilinski are the only offered quarterbacks Ohio State is seriously involved with, but that could change soon.
The top quarterback in Ohio’s 2019 class, Connor Bazelak, has seen a sharp rise in his recruitment over the spring. Though he’s ranked as just the No. 20 pro-style passer in the class, the 3-star quarterback’s offer list has increased significantly.
Bazelak entered 2018 with just two Power 5 offers (Kentucky and Vanderbilt) but a dozen other programs have thrown their hat into the ring lately. Georgia and N.C. State are the two latest programs to offer Bazelak. Ohio State has sent co-offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day to evaluate and see Bazelak at Archbishop Alter, a private school located in Dayton.
There’s an interesting element to Bazelak’s recruitment — Alter primarily runs a triple option offense, and he rarely passes because of it. The school has altered (pun fully intended) that somewhat to take advantage of Bazelak’s skills, but he still threw for just shy of 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns in his junior season.
You could take that a few different ways. On one hand, it’s a negative that Bazelak doesn’t have as many throws on film or as much game experience reading defenses and pushing the ball downfield. On the other hand, he’s a player who could reward you when he gets into an offense that allows him to be comfortable and throw the ball. Bazelak has lots of undiscovered upside because of the lack of experience.
I expect that Ohio State will bring Bazelak on campus for a camp in June to evaluate him further. They may want to sit down with him and go over film and see how he understands and breaks down defenses.
Penn State has been sniffing around Bazelak as well and other schools are coming after him hard, so the Buckeyes may not be able to wait beyond June to make a decision on an offer. Bazelak is planning to cut his list in June, and a commitment should follow relatively quickly from there.
Ohio State makes ‘top schools’ cut for several prospects
Several of Ohio State’s top wide receiver targets — 4-star Missouri prospect Marcus Washington, 4-star Georgia prospect Zion Puckett and 3-star Indiana prospect Craig Young — cut their top schools lists this weekend.
Washington named a top 6, listing Ohio State alongside Missouri, Georgia, Florida State, Texas and Oregon. The Buckeyes are the favorite for the 6-2, 193-pound receiver from St. Louis Trinity Catholic, and Missouri appears to be the closest competitor. Washington is ranked as the No. 59 overall prospect and No. 9 wide receiver nationally in 2019.
Puckett, who lives about an hour south of Atlanta and plays at Spalding High School, had a longer list and his recruitment remains more open. Ohio State was included along with Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Miami, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Puckett is likely a wide receiver, but there is some conversation that he could play cornerback. He is ranked as the No. 227 prospect overall and No. 36 wide receiver in 2019.
Young, a product of Fort Wayne, Ind., is looking to stay in the Midwest and has an all-Big Ten top 5. Ohio State, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa were named as Young’s top schools, and the 6-4, 200-pound receiver is coveted by many of those programs. His ranking — the No. 723 prospect and No. 96 receiver in 2019 — belies his talent and physical tools. I expect it to rise as time goes on.
It was not an all-wide receiver affair, however. Two Texas natives also released top lists that included Ohio State, though I don’t consider them to be serious Buckeyes targets.
Four-star safety Jalen Catalon had Ohio State, Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Nebraska, TCU and Arkansas as his top 8, released on Twitter. Catalon recently told me he’s “not talking much” with the Buckeyes. Catalon has other schools recruiting him hard and the Buckeyes have players higher on the board.
Four-star running back Deondrick Glass also included Ohio State alongside some other major names. Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan, USC, Georgia, TCU and Oklahoma State rounded out the rest of Glass’ top 10. He previously discussed plans to visit Ohio State, but I’m not so sure the visit occurs. The Buckeyes already have two running back commits, and players such as Noah Cain and Kenny McIntosh seem to be the only realistic candidates to give Ohio State a third.
Ohio State tight end target announces commitment date
Jude Wolfe, a 4-star prospect and the No. 8 tight end target nationally, announced that he’ll be making a commitment on August 3. Wolfe is a 6-6, 244-pound prospect and one of about four serious tight end targets remaining for Ohio State. He has never visited Columbus, however, making it highly unlikely that you’ll see Wolfe in a Buckeyes uniform unless that changes.
USC is the presumptive favorite for Wolfe, and it is where I expect him to land. He plays at St. John Bosco, the California powerhouse program that previously produced 2017 5-star Ohio State signee Wyatt Davis and former Buckeyes commit Jaiden Woodbey, a 2018 safety.
Ohio State issues several new offers
The Buckeyes issued a round of new offers to several prospects around the country over the weekend.
Joe Ngata, a 4-star wide receiver from California’s 2019 class, added Ohio State to his already-incredible offer list. Ranked as the No. 71 prospect overall and No. 13 receiver, Ngata already had been offered by USC, Washington, Clemson, Alabama and several other major programs. He is a 6-3, 210-pound prospect who recorded 81 receptions for 1,777 yards and 26 touchdowns in his junior season.
2021 quarterback Preston Stone is already making waves as a freshman. The Dallas Parish Episcopal School product has garnered nearly 30 offers, now including Ohio State. Count the Buckeyes alongside Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan and a boatload of other elite programs. Stone should be one of the best in the country.
2020 tackle Marcus Henderson — of Memphis University School — added a Buckeyes offer to his scholarship list, which also includes Alabama, Tennessee, LSU and many other major programs in the SEC. He is a 6-5, 300-pound prospect with major upside.
More Ohio State targets invited to The Opening Finals
The steady procession of invitations to The Opening Finals continues to go out around the country, and more Ohio State targets have booked their trip. Defensive backs earned invitations the last time we went over the list, and now wide receivers and offensive linemen can add their names.
Four-star center Harry Miller (No. 36 player overall, No. 2 center) of Georgia, 4-star wide receiver Lance Wilhoite (No. 123 player overall, No. 23 wide receiver) of Tennessee and 4-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton (No. 188 player overall, No. 31 wide receiver) of Georgia all received invitations to the event, which will take place in Frisco, Texas, beginning June 30.
Here is the updated list of Ohio State’s commits and targets who are expected to head to the event.
- 5-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson (committed)
- 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison
- 5-star defensive end Nolan Smith II (Georgia commit)
- 5-star linebacker Brandon Smith
- 5-star safety Daxton Hill
- 5-star athlete Bru McCoy
- 4-star tackle Doug Nester (committed)
- 4-star center Harry Miller
- 4-star running back Noah Cain
- 4-star wide receiver DeMarcco Hellams
- 4-star wide receiver John Dunmore
- 4-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton
- 4-star wide receiver Lance Wilhoite
- 4-star tight end Jahleel Billingsley
- 4-star linebacker Rian Davis
- 4-star linebacker Lance Dixon
- 4-star safety Nick Cross
- 4-star safety Brendan Gant
- 4-star safety Jordan Battle
- 4-star cornerback Tyrique Stevenson
- 4-star cornerback Woodi Washington
- 4-star cornerback Jeffery Carter
- 4-star cornerback Erick Young
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