Ohio State has always been heavily involved with the top high school football players in Ohio every year. Although the Buckeyes have turned toward a more national focus in recruiting during the Urban Meyer era, the state of Ohio still holds a critical place in building a base for every recruiting class and giving the program its identity.
Only seven Ohioans have picked up offers from the Buckeyes to date in the 2019 recruiting class, but a long list of other players are heavily involved with Ohio State or have been hearing from the coaching staff. Land of 10 will be taking a look at some of the top Ohio prospects in the 2019 class, particularly those of interest to Ohio State.
Here is a look at the top Ohio prospects in 2019 on offense and check in on Tuesday for a look at what the Buckeye State has to offer on defense.
The 2019 recruiting class will be a robust group on the offensive line for the Buckeyes. At least four scholarship offensive linemen – Isaiah Prince, Brady Taylor, Demetrius Knox, and Malcolm Pridgeon – will run out of eligibility after the 2018 season. Michael Jordan will be entering his third consecutive season as a starter and could look to leave for the NFL after his upcoming junior season. Brandon Bowen, Matthew Burrell, and Joshua Alabi will be redshirt juniors in 2018 and all are expected to graduate with degrees in hand. Kevin Feder and Jack Wohlabaugh departed the program during the offseason.
With all of that potential attrition from the offensive line looming, I expect Ohio State will take five or six offensive linemen in the 2019 recruiting class. The bulk of that group, if the Buckeyes have their druthers, will come at tackle, but several interior offensive linemen in Ohio have drawn offers or interest from Ohio State. Offensive line is always a deep position group in Ohio and that’s no different in 2019.
Zeke Correll is certainly Ohio State’s biggest priority on the interior offensive line within the state. The Cincinnati Anderson product has offers from many top programs and some of the school he’s most involved with are Ohio State, Notre Dame, Kentucky, Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Clemson. He’s fresh off of a Feb. 9 unofficial visit to Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ offensive line junior day and the 6-foot-4, 270-pound prospect is a priority for the home state team. Correll is a composite 4-star prospect and the country’s No. 10 guard per 247Sports.
Ohio State has only offered one other interior lineman in 2019 — Michigan commit and Akron Archbishop Hoban standout Nolan Rumler. Rumler is a lifelong Wolverines fan and grew up dreaming of playing for Michigan, so it would be a surprise to see any change in his commitment status. Still, if something were to change, Rumler is far too impressive of a talent to be ignored. The country’s No. 4 guard and No. 63 overall prospect, Rumler has been committed to Michigan since July.
The top two unoffered interior linemen in Ohio are Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller guard Zach Carpenter and Isaiah Gibson from Springfield. Gibson could play on either side of the ball, but Carpenter is locked in as an offensive lineman at the college level. I view Carpenter, who’s ranked as the No. 16 guard in the country, as the more likely of the two options. Carpenter holds offers from programs like Louisville, Kentucky, Indiana, Pitt, UCLA, Northwestern, West Virginia, and many others.
Ohio State just hosted each of the top three tackles in Ohio’s 2019 recruiting class over the weekend of Feb. 9. With the immense priority the Buckeye staff will place on recruiting the position in this cycle, they’d like to be able to look in-state for options at the position.
To date, they’ve only offered one 2019 tackle in Ohio — Ryan Jacoby of Mentor. Jacoby is a 6-5, 270-pound prospect who recently added Ohio State to an offer list that includes Michigan, West Virginia, Oregon, Kentucky, Boston College, and several other programs. He’s rated by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect and the No. 28 tackle in the 2019 class. Jacoby is the teammate of defensive end Noah Potter, who also holds an offer from the Buckeyes. Ohio State should be considered a heavy favorite for Jacoby going forward if they press for his commitment and it seems like he can be a foundational piece to the offensive line.
Another prospect likely to earn an offer from the Buckeyes at tackle is Jonathan Allen from Dayton Dunbar. Allen is relatively new to the game of football, but the 6-6, 315-pound standout has adapted very well. He’s a basketball player who has shown impressive athleticism and surprisingly nimble feet. Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Louisville, and Cincinnati are just a few of Allen’s early offers. Expect Ohio State to bring him in for a camp audition in the summer, where he’ll be among the most likely offer candidates in the Midwest.
Kyle Jornigan, the state’s third-highest ranked tackle, also made his way to campus. A product of Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, one of the state’s most storied high school football programs, Jornigan holds offers from Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Temple. He was joined on campus by J.D. Duplain, a fast-rising tackle who’s beginning to garner serious college attention. Duplain has intriguing physical potential at 6-5 and 290 pounds and is still new to the position, but holds offers from Temple and several MAC programs.
Quarterback is thin in Ohio in the 2019 class. Only Kettering Archbishop Alter’s Connor Bazelak appears to have a Power 5 future at quarterback from the Buckeye State. The 6-4, 200-pound pro-style prospect from the Dayton area has landed Power 5 offers from Pitt, West Virginia, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Boston College, and Rutgers. Ohio State is chasing some top-ranked quarterbacks nationally, but Bazelak will certainly have a chance to earn an offer during camp season.
One of Ohio’s top running backs shares a backfield with Bazelak at Archbishop Alter. John Bivens, a 6-1, 205-pound running back, already holds offers from Southern California, Kentucky, Louisville, West Virginia, Indiana, Purdue, and Iowa State and has been ranked as the No. 27 running back in the country by 247Sports. Bivens has intriguing top-end speed and was productive as a junior before missing time to a knee injury.
Somewhat closer to home is Columbus Northland running back John Branham Jr., the nation’s No. 47 running back. The 5-10, 210-pound prospect has offers from Pitt, Cincinnati, and multiple MAC programs. Branham has speed, but looks more like a between-the-tackles runner at the college level. He has a low center of gravity and tremendous lower body strength.
I would ultimately be somewhat surprised if Ohio State looked in-state at either position in the backfield in the 2019 class, but each of these prospects will likely be asked to camp and audition for an offer in June. The Ohio State staff always thoroughly does its homework on Power 5-level prospects.
After the 2018 season, Ohio State will lose Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, and C.J. Saunders after their eligibility runs out. Contributors like Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Demario McCall will be draft-eligible. Even after signing five (likely) wide receivers in the 2018 recruiting class, the Buckeyes will have a need in the receiver corps in the 2019 recruiting class.
Ohio State hasn’t offered any Buckeye State natives at the position, but at least two players should be intriguing candidates to watch during camp season.
Mershawn Rice of Reynoldsburg has landed five offers to date – Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Syracuse, Cincinnati, and Toledo. His upside is as high as many of the Midwest’s top receivers and he has impressive athleticism at 6-2 and 193 pounds. Rice would like to play receiver at the next level, but I think his upside may be even higher at linebacker or safety. He’s a Power 5 prospect at any of those positions, but more consistency will be key for him in gaining more offers. This summer will be important for Rice.
Another high-upside prospect whose offers don’t necessarily match his talent is Trevon Raphael of Solon. Raphael is a big-play threat downfield speed at 6-4 and 180 pounds, but he has zero offers to his name yet. That will surely change in the near future. Raphael will be a late-riser in Ohio and I expect him to garner Power 5 offers.
During the 2017 season and ensuing offseason, Ohio State lost tight ends Marcus Baugh to graduation, Kierre Hawkins to transfer, and A.J. Alexander to a career-ending knee injury. Only redshirt junior Rashod Berry, redshirt sophomores Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann, and incoming freshman Jeremy Ruckert will fill out the tight end room for the Buckeyes in 2018. I would expect Ohio State to take another tight end in the 2019 recruiting class to round out the group.
In Ohio, they have three likely options to look at. The leader of the pack, by a fairly significant margin, is Erick All of Fairfield. All’s offer list has grown steadily over the last several months, growing to include Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Purdue, Syracuse, and Rutgers. Programs like Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State, among others, have shown interest in the Cincinnati-area prospect. Although not huge for a tight end prospect at 6-4 and 215 pounds, All is an impressive athlete for the position and has soft hands.
Two other in-state options with intriguing size and athleticism are Milford’s Connor Foster and Columbus Bishop Hartley product Jordan Kirkbride. Foster recently visited Ohio State on Feb. 10 and the 6-6, 242-pound prospect holds offers from Purdue, Cincinnati, and several MAC programs. Kirkbride, 6-6, 230, recently added an offer from Kentucky in January, joining Ball State and Kentucky.