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The wait is almost over
National Signing Day, the culmination of years’ worth of recruiting and work for coaching staffs across the country, is less than 24 hours away. All of the sweat, tears, and countless hours of effort will result in high school players making the leap to Division I they’ve been dreaming of for years.
Land of 10 and Ohio State recruiting analyst Ryan Donnelly (@L10Ryan) will provide complete coverage and analysis of all of the day’s commitments, announcements, signatures, flips and more. Everything the Buckeyes do on National Signing Day can be found and explained right here on Land of 10.
Signing Day will kick off Wednesday morning with three big announcements from some of the top prospects in the country — blue-chip prospects who have the Buckeyes among their finalists. Find out who’s announcing, where they could go, and everything else you’ll need to know as Wednesday unfolds.
Who’s announcing and how will they do it?
Note: All times Eastern
- 4-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste will be the first announcement of the morning for Buckeye fans. He’ll announce during a ceremony at Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic at 8 a.m. A live stream is expected, but has not been announced yet.
- 5-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere is scheduled for a nationally televised announcement in the 10 a.m. slot on ESPNU. He’s expected to be the first announcement in that hour.
- 4-star tackle Rasheed Walker will make an announcement at his high school, Waldorf (Md.) North Point, in a ceremony that’s expected to begin approximately at 11 a.m. Walker’s announcement is expected about 15 minutes after the ceremony begins, but times can fluctuate at these ceremonies. A live stream is expected, but has not been announced yet.
What to expect from Javontae Jean-Baptiste
It’s been an absolutely wild close to Jean-Baptiste’s recruitment, with several twists and turns. Ohio State has surged late in 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for No. 6 player in New Jersey, but I’m not sure it’s as straightforward as it looks right now. Here’s what I know on Jean-Baptiste’s recruitment:
Ohio State did not offer Jean-Baptiste until Jan. 9, relatively late in his recruitment. The Buckeyes hosted him for an official visit on Jan. 19, his fourth official visit of the process. Jean-Baptiste also took official visits to Boston College (Dec. 8), Virginia Tech (Dec. 15), Nebraska (Jan. 12), and Texas A&M (Feb. 2), the other expected finalists. I can safely say that Boston College will not be the choice, but there’s been interesting buzz around each of the other four programs.
Coming out of the official visit, the Buckeyes were not ready to go all-in on a push for his commitment. At the time, they expected to land Ohio linebacker Christopher Oats and were pursuing other prospects that were bigger priorities than Jean-Baptiste. However, Ohio State turned around with a Feb. 1 in-home visit from Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano that expressed to Jean-Baptiste how much of a priority he was for the Buckeyes. It appears that Ohio State’s decision to go all-in is the driving factor behind the Buckeyes’ surge in Jean-Baptiste’s recruitment.
Prior to this development, Nebraska had been widely regarded as the favorite for Jean-Baptiste. Scott Frost and his coaching staff have been on Jean-Baptiste since their time at UCF, the Jan. 12 official visit to Lincoln was knocked out of the park by the Huskers, and Frost made a successful in-home visit on Jan. 25.
However, I’ve heard doubt and anxiety expressed by multiple sources close to this recruitment on the Nebraska side. Word has surfaced that Ohio State, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech are each surging late and that Jean-Baptiste is legitimately torn about his decision. I’m skeptical of the legitimacy of Virginia Tech’s chances, but Texas A&M appears to be a more legitimate contender. The Aggies hosted Jean-Baptiste for an official visit last weekend and I’m told that Jimbo Fisher and his staff have consistently impressed Jean-Baptiste and his family.
At this point, I would not be surprised by Ohio State, Nebraska, or Texas A&M as the pick. The winds appear to be blowing in Ohio State’s favor right now, but this recruitment is changing seemingly hourly according to one source close to the recruitment.
What to expect from Nicholas Petit-Frere
Unlike Jean-Baptiste, where I’ve become somewhat skeptical of the late momentum for multiple different programs, I’m buying in on the trends pushing in Ohio State’s favor for the country’s No. 1 tackle. The Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep product made an official visit to Columbus on the final available weekend, Feb. 2, and I’m told that the Buckeyes feel that they hit it out of the park.
Petit-Frere was recruited by Ohio State with a number of on-field and off-field recruiting pitches. The Buckeyes laid out a clear plan of academic excellence and off-field support for Petit-Frere’s career after football. They laid out a path to early playing time, including the chance to compete with multiple other players for a starting position in Year 1, as well as NFL development. Petit-Frere, his family and his high school coaches also have a close relationship with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, whose word and influence on Petit-Frere choosing Ohio State will likely carry beyond his expected departure for the New England Patriots.
Florida (Jan. 26), Alabama (Jan. 19), Michigan (Nov. 25), and Notre Dame (Oct. 21) also received official visits from Petit-Frere and will be the other four finalists. The Gators seemed to hold their spot in this musical chairs game of recruiting the longest, relying on their proximity to Petit-Frere’s home and the recruiting relationships they had built with him. But sources close to the Gators indicated that they were out of the recruitment during the morning of Feb. 6. Michigan and Notre Dame also lost momentum the longer the recruitment went on. Alabama and Florida have been the two most significant challengers to Ohio State as the recruitment came to a close.
Landing Petit-Frere would give Ohio State its best odds of retaining the country’s No. 1 recruiting class, ahead of Georgia. He would give the Buckeyes their top-rated prospect in the 2018 recruiting class and their third 5-star recruit overall, joining fellow Floridians Taron Vincent and Tyreke Johnson. The Buckeyes are in a close back and forth with the Bulldogs for that top spot.
What to expect from Rasheed Walker
Comparatively speaking, Walker is the most straight-forward recruitment of the expected announcements on National Signing Day. This is just a back-and-forth battle between two of the country’s most prominent programs — and division rivals — for a highly ranked national prospect at a position of need. Simple, right?
Penn State and Ohio State have dueling for Walker for months. The Nittany Lions had Walker on campus frequently during the offseason (Jan. 29, May. 27, July 15) for unofficial visits and hosted him for an official visit on Dec. 8. The Buckeyes got later cracks at Walker, bringing him in for an unofficial visit on Oct. 28 (the day they played Penn State in Ohio Stadium) and an official visit on Jan. 19.
Both programs have put together a competitive package of academic advantages, life after football transitions, and the ability to compete for and win conference and national championships. Penn State holds the edge when it comes to the length of the relationship with the 4-star tackle. He’s seemingly more comfortable and familiar with Penn State’s coaches and players. Ohio State offers an earlier path to the field for playing time and a better track record of NFL development as an offensive lineman, two tantalizing options for a young player.
Penn State is my pick going into Walker’s announcement as I feel that his familiarity with the Penn State program will win out. But this one is neck and neck. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest to see Ohio State land Walker. Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson have built very strong bonds with the Maryland native. But I just can’t pick against Penn State and its stronger relationships.
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