It’s National Signing Day Eve, and the most intriguing development concerns 5-star prospect Nicholas Petit-Frere. The tackle from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep is one of the nation’s top uncommitted recruits, and there has been late movement in his recruitment.
While schools such as Alabama, Michigan and Notre Dame have been in the running, Ohio State and Florida have separated themselves.
Before Petit-Frere announces on Wednesday, here’s the latest from our Buckeyes and Gators experts.
What’s the latest you’re hearing on Nicholas Petit-Frere?
Ryan Donnelly, Land of 10 Ohio State: Ohio State sources came out of Petit-Frere’s Feb. 2 official visit to Columbus feeling that they really hit it out of the park during the trip. The Buckeyes laid out a comprehensive plan for Petit-Frere on and off of the field. They pitched him on Ohio State’s academic opportunities and the life-after-football transition with which they could aid him, be it in Columbus or around the country. They cited internship programs and other benefits they offer for players. The Buckeyes also showed Petit-Frere a path to early playing time, with real chances for the 5-star tackle to start in both his first and second years on campus.
The Buckeyes felt great coming out of that visit, but we’ve heard similar reports from sources close to Florida, Alabama, and Notre Dame, even into February as National Signing Day approached. It wasn’t until late Monday night and rolling into Tuesday morning that my confidence in Ohio State as the landing spot began to grow. Sources at those other programs began to wane in confidence at the same time as Ohio State grew surer it had Petit-Frere in the bag. It sounds like Petit-Frere and his inner circle’s close relationships with Buckeye defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, as well as the aforementioned pitches, were enough for Ohio State to win a stunner late for Petit-Frere.
Zach Abolverdi, SEC Country Florida: Confidence was high in Gainesville after his official visit on Jan. 26. Berkeley Prep coach Dominick Ciao told SEC Country that Petit-Frere and his mother had a “first-class experience” during their trip, which helped Florida made up a lot of ground. The Gators fought hard for Petit-Frere in January, but they were behind the eight ball heading into the contact period.
What was your school’s pitch to Nicholas Petit-Frere?
Abolverdi: Florida sold Petit-Frere on its academic prestige and proximity to home, a combination no other program can offer him. The hope was that Florida’s top-10 public education and in-site appeal would win out. Notre Dame was viewed as the biggest threat to the Gators prior to last weekend, but his recruitment has taken a turn in the 11th hour.
Donnelly: I discussed it somewhat above, but Ohio State’s plan for Petit-Frere is comprehensive. He is very focused on academics, and the Buckeyes showed him both the types of educational programs and degrees offered and how the football program would aid him in his academic pursuits. They showed off a series of internships and other opportunities in the working world furnished by connections to the Buckeye football program, including their annual job fair for Ohio State players and the Real Life Wednesday speaker series. Ohio State also showed Petit-Frere a realistic path to playing time his first two years on campus, including a chance to immediately compete for the spot left by the recently departed tackle Jamarco Jones. Isaiah Prince, Ohio State’s other starting tackle in 2017, will be a senior in the fall, leaving another starting tackle job available in Petit-Frere’s second year on campus.
Where do you believe Nicholas Petit-Frere will go, and how confident are you?
Donnelly: I expect Petit-Frere to land at Ohio State and my confidence in that expectation is high — I’d say north of 95 percent. Florida and Alabama were the two most significant challengers to the Buckeyes in this recruitment, but barring an absolutely shocking development in the final 24 hours, he’ll be a Buckeye. Urban Meyer has developed a well-deserved reputation for landing big fish late in the recruiting process, but this may be his biggest victory yet in that regard. Petit-Frere would fill a position of need in Ohio State’s recruiting class, become the Buckeyes’ top-ranked commit, and gives them a great chance to stay ahead of Georgia to win the mythical recruiting national title.
Abolverdi: A source close to Petit-Frere told SEC Country last week that it was Florida-Notre Dame battle heading into his final visit to Ohio State. The Buckeyes apparently knocked that trip out of the park and are now considered the team to beat. I expect him to sign with Ohio State on Wednesday.