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Ohio State QB target Sam Howell discusses his visit
Sam Howell, the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, has emerged as one of Ohio State’s most important targets in this recruiting class. The Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley quarterback made a two-day trip to Ohio State beginning on March 18, his second unofficial visit to Columbus.
“It was good to catch back up with the coaches. I got to spend a lot of time with coach [Ryan] Day and learn more about what he does offensively, how he can coach me and just how he coaches his quarterbacks,” Howell explained. “I know coach [Kevin] Wilson probably a little better than I know Coach Day, but I’ve been talking on the phone a lot to Coach Day, so that relationship is pretty good. They’re both good guys and I had met both in person before.”
While on campus, Howell was able to observe one of Ohio State’s quarterback positional meetings and learn how Day, the Buckeyes quarterbacks coach, worked with the signal callers. Although Ohio State has not always prioritized recruiting pro-style quarterbacks, Day was able to show Howell how he could be used in Ohio State’s offense.
“It was good. I really liked how they go about all of their things there. … I know [Day is] going to do a lot of different things on the offense, but that depends more on who’s going to be his quarterback,” Howell said. “He’s going to make sure he uses his quarterback’s strengths. I would say that he would treat me as more of a passer, but he knows I have the ability to run if I need to.”
Howell’s previous unofficial visit to Ohio State was a June prospect camp last summer, before the Buckeyes had offered him. Since then, Howell’s offer list has blown up with scholarships from Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State and other major programs. On this trip, he was able to gain new perspectives on Ohio State.
“I would just say that they probably showed me a little more attention this time and I got a lot more out of it. I was able to see a lot more things. This time, I got to go around and I saw a lot of campus. My mom got to see the stadium for the first time,” Howell detailed. “I got to sit down with some academic people. I got to sit down and spend a lot of time with Coach Day, which was really important for me.”
The Buckeyes are on the shortlist of the programs recruiting Howell the hardest and I’d expect that they would make any top schools list he had. However, Howell told me he’ll likely only “narrow it down in his head” and is unlikely to release a list of his top or final schools before committing.
“I would say Ohio State, Clemson, North Carolina and Tennessee are the main ones [contacting Howell the most] and Florida and Florida State,” Howell said. “I would say I’m pretty close with all of the schools and coaching staffs that have been recruiting me the most.”
Howell has also taken recent unofficial visits to Tennessee (Feb. 3) and Clemson (March 12) and still has trips scheduled to Florida (March 30) and Florida State (March 31). He says he’s planning to make a decision “within the next two months, at the latest” and has used his unofficial visits to evaluate programs in several different categories.
“I just want to go to a school with a high level of education. I want to make sure I fit in offensively on the team. Outside of football, I want to make sure I fit in with the guys in the locker room,” Howell explained. “I want to have a good relationship with the quarterbacks coach as well, although you can’t put too much on that because you don’t know what can happen with coaching changes. If God takes the football out of my hands, I want to go to a place where I know I’d have a good time regardless.”
Howell is a 6-foot-1, 217-pound quarterback, ranked as a 4-star recruit, the No. 154 prospect overall in 2019, the No. 4 pro-style QB prospect and the No. 4 prospect in the state of North Carolina. He holds more than 30 scholarship offers.
The latest on elite RB Devyn Ford
I was in attendance at Ohio State’s pro day on Thursday, along with a number of media members, NFL personnel folks, Ohio State players and staffers and gathered families and friends of the players. I also spotted an unexpected face in the crowd — North Stafford (Va.) coach Joe Mangano.
Mangano is the coach of elite running back Devyn Ford, the No. 5 running back in the 2019 class and No. 71 prospect overall. We previously discussed Ford when he scheduled his Ohio State official visit (along with official visits to Virginia Tech and Penn State), but Mangano’s visit represented a new development in Ford’s recruitment.
“Devyn will be up in two weeks on April 6 for an unofficial visit to see practice. He’ll also be up the last weekend of April for an official visit beginning on April 26,” Mangano said. “Me and the offensive line coach are up here on our own hanging with the offensive staff for the next two days. It’s great stuff, we’re really enjoying ourselves and it’s very impressive. We’re in offensive staff meetings watching film and just absorbing everything we can.”
Ohio State is in a battle with Penn State and Virginia Tech for Ford’s services, but Mangano’s visit is an interesting wrinkle. The Buckeyes coaching staff will not only have multiple opportunities to spend weekends with Ford, including his final official visit, but also getting to let his coach soak up Ohio State’s culture and recruit Mangano as well.
I previously wrote that I believed that Ohio State was tracking third for Ford behind the Hokies and Nittany Lions and would need a “huge impression” to leapfrog those programs. I would say that Ford’s two upcoming visits and his coach’s time on campus would qualify as a chance to make a huge impression. It’s game on in Ford’s recruitment.
A 5-star WR is coming to campus …
Ohio State offered 5-star wide receiver Frank Ladson, a Miami South Dade product, on Monday. Although the offer for the Florida superstar is freshly inked, he’s already planning to make his first visit to Ohio State. 247Sports recruiting analyst Luke Stampini recently reported that Ladson would make an unofficial visit to Ohio State on March 24. He’ll be joined by high school teammate Tyrique Stevenson, who does not hold an Ohio State offer.
Ladson is a 6-4, 170-pound prospect with more than 30 offers, including Ohio State, Miami, Clemson, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and Florida State. He is also ranked as the No. 15 recruit overall in 2019, the No. 3 wide receiver and the No. 3 prospect in Florida.
Stevenson, also a 2019 prospect, is a 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback. He checks in as the No. 90 prospect overall, the No. 9 cornerback and the No. 13 prospect in Florida. Nearly 20 schools have offered Stevenson, including Miami, Florida, Florida State, Clemson, Alabama and Georgia. Ohio State seems like a serious candidate to offer during the visit.
… And a 4-star TE isn’t
Multiple outlets have reported that Ohio State would host 4-star Illinois tight end Jahleel Billingsley for an unofficial visit this weekend. Billingsley messaged me to indicate he would not visit Columbus this weekend. Billingsley, the No. 9 tight end in the class, was offered by Ohio State on March 7 and has immediately jumped toward the top of the Buckeyes tight end board.
While he won’t be on campus this weekend, Billingsley is still an important target for Ohio State and one of the likeliest tight ends to sign with the Buckeyes in this class. The Crystal Ball predictions currently read heavily in Ohio State’s favor. Billingsley recently included Ohio State in his top 7.
Marcus Hicks makes it to campus
Four-star defensive end Marcus Hicks, a 6-5, 236-pound standout from Wichita (Kan.) Northwest, made an unofficial visit to Ohio State Thursday. Hicks is the No. 15 weakside defensive end and No. 254 prospect overall in the 2019 class with a robust offer list that he recently pared down. The Buckeyes made Hicks’ top schools cut and he promptly followed it up with an unofficial visit to Ohio State’s campus on Thursday, one day after he visited Michigan, another finalist.
— Marcus Hicks (@harcus_micks) March 22, 2018
Hicks previously visited Columbus in June 2017 for a prospect camp, but this is his first trip to Ohio State since being offered by the Buckeyes on Nov. 29. He has 12 schools in the mix on his top schools list, including other elite programs like Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Texas. He’s a player to watch for defensive end recruiting in this class.
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