DAYTON, Ohio — If you’re an Ohio kid and you land an offer from the Buckeyes, everyone expects you to end up at Ohio State. This is the way it’s been since Woody Hayes began prowling the sidelines of Ohio Stadium in the 1950s, and it looks to continue for the foreseeable future.
Jonathan Allen, a 3-star tackle from Dayton Dunbar who recently landed an offer from the Buckeyes, is no exception to that rule. Allen saw his recruitment take off in his first year of playing football, landing offers from the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa, Pitt and many other programs that recruit the great state of Ohio.
None of those offers had a greater impact on Allen, his family and the Dunbar community than his offer from Ohio State.
“People always root for O-State. I want to go there, too, but not just because it’s Ohio State and because it’s the name. I want to go where someone wants to work with me,” Allen told Land of 10. “But I was always a big Ohio State fan — basketball and football — because of my dad. To get the offer from them, that’s great to have. That’s the hometown team.”
Allen landed his Buckeyes offer on May 3 and promptly took an unofficial visit to Columbus on May 13. It was an important opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the coaching staff. Though Kevin Wilson, Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and the Dayton-area recruiter for the Buckeyes, has been a frequent presence at Dunbar since Allen first strapped on pads last August, Allen’s trip to campus marked the next level of relationship building.
“Really, what this visit was is getting to talk to the coaches and getting that offer. They wanted to talk to me in person about the offer and getting serious about football. It was just with the coaches, no players,” Allen said. “That’s definitely different because usually they want me to see the players working out or on the field, but this was just one-on-one in the coaches’ offices talking about all kinds of things.”
Ohio State’s message for him was one of caution. The Buckeyes are interested in the 6-foot-6, 315-pound converted basketball player, whose nimble feet and athleticism have turned him into one of the state’s best football prospects nearly overnight. Allen had never played football until days before his junior season.
That upside is tantalizing and has been a huge factor in Ohio State’s offer, but the coaching staff wants to see Allen prove himself. The Buckeyes are expecting the 3-star tackle to work out at a prospect camp on June 8 on campus.
“They were really just saying, ‘We want you here, but we’re just not going to let you here, you’ve got to put in the work. There’s always somebody working hard, so you’ve got to outwork the next player to get here.’ I’m just ready to work, regardless if I go to Ohio State or not,” said Allen.
Another important feature of the visit for Allen was the emphasis the coaches placed on academics and job placement. He is a high academic performer at Dunbar and is on track to graduate with a GPA higher than 3.5.
“They’re definitely [focused] on getting you a job after college,” Allen said. “I wanted to hear about that because I want to possibly go to the NFL, but I want to have something to fall back on. They were big on work and getting to school and doing all of that before even getting on the field. That shows me what their main focus is.”
A personal meeting with Urban Meyer was another highlight of the visit for Allen and his family, even if it did have some awkward moments.
“Every time I come up there, I talk to Urban. This time, I really talked to him one-on-one, though. It was just me, him and my mom in his office when we spoke. It definitely caught me off guard, like, ‘Wow, where are we going?’ And then we sat down in his office and he was just looking at me for a while,” Allen recalled. “I was kind of like, ‘Are we going to talk, or…?’ [laughter].
“But he eventually started talking about Ohio State and I started to feel more comfortable. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Allen’s recruitment is in its early stages and he has not taken many unofficial visits. He intends to camp at or visit several schools this summer — Ohio State, LSU, Pitt, Indiana, Kentucky, Cincinnati and Bowling Green. But despite his limited number of trips, he already has a top group in mind.
“My top group is about five of them. It’s Ohio State, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and Pittsburgh,” Allen said. “I’m probably going to commit before the first official practice. I don’t want to get hurt and lose an offer, so I’ll probably commit before I start working out and doing practices again. So probably around August.”
Dunbar coach Darran Powell is aware of the expectations around Allen now that he has an Ohio State offer in hand. Buckeyes offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has made a major push to build his recruiting classes with more Ohio talent and Allen could be a piece of that.
“I think everyone expects him to be a Buckeye. I don’t honestly know, but I think they may be in front. He’s visited there two or three times,” Powell said. “Coach Stud, Coach Wilson and Coach Meyer all do a great job. Wherever he goes, it’ll be a great look for our school. I’m just going to support him on whatever he decides to do.”
He may be new to the game of football, but Allen is mature beyond his years in his search for the right college fit. Allen is aware of his limitations and where his technical development stands.
“Like I tell every coach, I want to see who develops me the best. I don’t want to go anywhere where you just throw me in the fire with no help to get no better,” Allen said. “I want to develop and get better, maybe even redshirt for a year to develop and work out hard in the offseason to get ready to play.”
Ohio State leads the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for Allen, capturing 100 percent of the seven predictions. The site’s composite rankings consider the tackle from Dayton to be the No. 465 prospect overall and No. 43 tackle in the 2019 class, as well as the No. 17 prospect in Ohio.