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5-star DE Zach Harrison is a must-get for Ohio State. Can they keep him in the state?

Predicting how Ohio State will fare in landing top recruiting targets

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Let’s break down this question by each prospect. It’s a fun topic and I want to give each recruitment the attention it deserves, though I will re-order the list a bit.

Zach Harrison, 5-star DE — Ohio

What to know: No prospect is more coveted by the Ohio State coaching staff than 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison, a Columbus-area product and perhaps the nation’s best high school football player. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound Harrison is an athletic marvel and the Buckeyes have been after him. With a likely August commitment quickly approaching, it’s getting to be crunch time for Harrison.

Larry Johnson, Ohio State’s defensive line coach, has built a close relationship with Harrison, the prospect told Land of 10. Penn State, Michigan and Clemson are the biggest threats to the Buckeyes’ perceived lead, but I have Ohio State keeping the elite defensive end at home. Harrison is the kind of athlete who looks like he was designed in a lab to play football, and Urban Meyer simply can’t let him leave the state.

Prediction: I have Ohio State winning this one. The Buckeyes are not taking this for granted and have continued to push hard despite their incumbent advantages with Harrison in their backyard.

Brandon Smith, 5-star LB — Virginia

What to know: 5-star prospect Brandon Smith is a linebacker, but the Virginia native has defensive end size at 6-4 and 223 pounds. He is ranked as the No. 29 overall prospect and No. 2 inside linebacker for 2019 by the 247Sports composite rankings. Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State, Alabama and other programs have been chasing Smith.

I have Penn State as the leader for Smith, though he’s been keen on taking unofficial visits and seeing programs all over the country. He’s been to Ohio State several times as well, showing serious interest in getting to Columbus and learning about the program. Smith recently announced a decision date for May 21, but I have a feeling that coaches will continue to pursue him after that commitment.

Prediction: I have Penn State for Smith, but this will be a battle until he signs with a team, and you would need two hands to count the number of programs with a legitimate chance at Smith. Ohio State will pursue him hard and has a real chance.

Harry Miller, 4-star C — Georgia

What to know: Harry Miller, the No. 2 center and No. 36 prospect overall in 2019 and a Georgia native, has been high on Ohio State for several months. The Buckeyes are widely considered to be the leader. Stanford has pushed Ohio State hard and Clemson, Georgia and Notre Dame are involved for Miller, who’s expected to decide in the near future. The Buckeyes had Miller on campus for an official visit on April 14.

Prediction: I have Ohio State beating Stanford to win Miller’s commitment. Pulling a prospect of his caliber out of Georgia and beating every major national powerhouse to do so is a huge accomplishment. Miller will be able to compete for playing time from the minute he’s on campus.

Noah Cain, 4-star RB — Florida

What to know: Though commitments from 4-star running backs Steele Chambers and Sampson James have scared off many other players at the position from considering Ohio State, the same cannot be said for IMG Academy running back Noah Cain. Cain is ranked as the No. 2 back in 2019 and the Buckeyes remain in the mix, but Texas, LSU and other programs will be major contenders here. His recruitment will not conclude until December.

Prediction: I think LSU ultimately secures Cain’s commitment, but this one won’t be over for another seven months. Ohio State and Cain had a mutual understanding that his decision time frame meant that the Buckeyes couldn’t wait on him. These two commitments have not necessarily damaged the Buckeyes’ chances, but they add a different dynamic to the recruitment. There’s a whole lot of time left here for Cain.

Marcus Washington, 4-star WR — Missouri

What to know: The Buckeyes pulled 4-star prospects Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown out of St. Louis in the 2018 class and they’ll look to do the same with 4-star wide receiver Marcus Washington in 2019. Ranked as the No. 59 prospect overall and No. 9 wide receiver, Washington recently included Ohio State in his top six. Many have the Buckeyes as the favorites for the 6-2, 193-pound standout.

Prediction: I think Ohio State gets Washington if it pushes for his commitment. The wide receiver board is open for the Buckeyes coaches and they seemingly are leading for several prospects. They may not want to rush Washington into a decision because of that, but they’ll load up on receivers in this class. Nearly the entire two-deep at the position will leave Ohio State, so they’ll have plenty of options to restock the cupboard. I expect Washington to be part of that rebuild.

Grant Gunnell, 4-star QB — Texas

What to know: Houston St. Pius X 4-star quarterback Grant Gunnell’s recruitment has been fascinating. His official visit to Ohio State seemed to place the Buckeyes in pole position, but offers Ohio State has issued since then have made many question that. Meyer and company have actively pursued and worked on Wisconsin commit Graham Mertz, Michigan State commit Dwan Mathis and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski.

I continue to hear buzz around LSU and Arizona for Gunnell, indicating that this recruitment may not be as locked up as some felt after Ohio State hosted the Texas native in April. Gunnell does not want to commit until after the Elite 11 Finals in the first week of June, so Ohio State has to continue pursuing other quarterback targets in their search for a commit.

Prediction: I’ll stick with my Ohio State prediction here, but I don’t feel great about it. This recruitment is shifting and I think LSU and Arizona are legitimate threats to the Buckeyes. The momentum is shifting away from Ohio State, but the Buckeyes can recover.

Read more answers to questions about the Ohio State Buckeyes here.