With Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class — the top class in the Big Ten, No. 2 in the country and the best for the Buckeyes in the internet era — in the books, coach Urban Meyer’s never-ending march for recruiting perfection has turned fully to the 2019 class.
Ohio State has secured the nation’s top recruiting class in terms of player-rankings average in each of the last two seasons, and they’ll look to continue that momentum in 2019 and beyond with the goal of gaining the No. 1 class in the country overall. Their recruiting success has been hard to match over the last several seasons, and there’s a reason for that. The Buckeyes are willing to go anywhere in the nation and battle any program for top talent at every position in every class. That pattern undoubtedly will hold true again in the 2019 recruiting cycle, where the Buckeyes already are gaining traction with some of the best players in the country.
Here, we examine Ohio State’s top targets in the 2019 class on the offensive side of the football and will be follow up Friday with their counterparts on defense. Let’s dive into the target board below:
Ohio State faces an interesting dilemma at the quarterback position in the 2019 recruiting class. There’s a starting quarterback battle yet to be decided between presumed favorite and redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins and the three other contenders: redshirt junior Joe Burrow, redshirt freshman Tate Martell, and recently enrolled freshman Matthew Baldwin.
Should Haskins win the job, it’s a possibility that Burrow could seek opportunities to play by transferring elsewhere. He’s expected to graduate during the spring and could become a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining and the ability to play immediately, making him a rare and highly sought-after commodity in college football’s transfer market.
If Burrow does leave, that could leave Ohio State with just three scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, including a draft-eligible starter in Haskins and two freshmen who have never taken a live rep of college football action. Baldwin is coming off of a knee injury and won’t be fully healthy for some time.
So what are the Buckeyes to do in the 2019 recruiting class at quarterback? Ohio State may be best served by taking two scholarship quarterbacks in the class, but it’s not a particularly strong position group nationally this year. Ohio appears to have only one Power 5-quality quarterback in 2019, and the Buckeyes likely would be faced with the difficult task of pulling two worthy prospects from out of state.
Can Ohio State land two starters of appropriate quality? Will they decide to take two scholarship quarterbacks in 2019 or just one? Those are two of the most significant questions facing Ohio State’s recruiting efforts in 2019, and they’ll be important to remember going forward. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top quarterback targets for Ohio State in 2019.
- Graham Mertz, Leawood (Kan.) Blue Valley North: Graham Mertz has been committed to Wisconsin since October, but that’s done little to dissuade other programs. Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, LSU and several other programs have offered Mertz in recent weeks, and the No. 9 pro-style passer in the country looks to be on the rise. Meyer has been to Kansas to check in on Mertz, and Ohio State will look to get the Wisconsin commit to visit Columbus in the near future.
- Grant Tisdale, Allen (Texas): The country’s No. 7 dual-threat passer in 2019, Grant Tisdale seems to be the most likely option for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes have not settled their board at quarterback. Tisdale holds offers from nine other Power 5 programs.
- Sam Howell, Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley: The recruitment of Sam Howell, the country’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback, has gained steam recently. In the last six weeks alone, he’s added offers from Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska and Virginia Tech.
- Max Duggan, Council Bluffs (Iowa) Lewis Central: Max Duggan recently received a visit from the Ohio State staff during the evaluation period. As the country’s No. 6 dual-threat quarterback, some of Duggan’s top options include Ohio State, Nebraska, Georgia, Penn State, Iowa and Iowa State. He has nearly two dozen offers.
- Grant Gunnell, Houston St. Pius X Grant Gunnell is the most recent addition to Ohio State’s target list, as he added an offer from the Buckeyes on Wednesday. Later that day, Gunnell de-committed from Texas A&M. It’s unlikely that the two situations were related; Gunnell committed to Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin before he left the program and Jimbo Fisher took over. Still, the No. 2 pocket passer in the country will bear watching moving forward.
Redshirt junior Mike Weber likely will be playing his final season for the Buckeyes this fall. Antonio Williams, a junior, has fallen behind Weber and sophomore JK Dobbins on the depth chart and now will have to contend with highly regarded incoming freshmen Brian Snead and Master Teague pushing him from behind. The Buckeyes will have to assess their depth chart and scholarship situation moving forward and decide if they should take one or two running backs in the 2019 class. Both scenarios are in play.
Here are some of Ohio State’s top targets at running back in the 2019 class:
- Noah Cain, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy: Noah Cain, the country’s No. 3 running back, previously told Land of 10 that Ohio State has “solidified itself” among his top schools. The Buckeyes will be among the top contenders for Cain until the end of his recruitment, and he’s more than worth pursuing.
- Devyn Ford, North Stafford (Va.): Devyn Ford recently named Ohio State to his top six alongside Penn State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and North Carolina. He is the No. 7 running back in the country.
- Kenny McIntosh, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School: Kenny McIntosh hasn’t been to Ohio State in several months, but that should change this spring. The Buckeyes are among his top choices, alongside Miami, Alabama, Notre Dame and others.
- Sampson James, Avon (Ind.): The Buckeyes routinely beat most other top programs for the Midwest’s top prospects, and Sampson James, an Indianapolis-area standout, has received early attention from the Buckeyes. Meyer visited his high school. He is ranked as the No. 8 running back in 2019.
- Trey Sanders, Brandenton (Fla.) IMG Academy: Trey Sanders is the country’s No. 1 back, and the 5-star prospect’s recruitment will be a national battle.
- Quavaris Crouch, Charlotte (N.C.) Harding University
- Daniel Carter, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas: Daniel Carter, the No. 14 running back in the country, could be the next St. Thomas Aquinas player to play his college football at Ohio State.
- Joachim Bangda, Baltimore St. Frances Academy: Joachim Bangda is fresh off of a Feb. 10 visit to Ohio State, which he called “amazing.”
Ohio State will add a number of scholarship wide receivers during the 2018 season. Nine of the Buckeyes’ 10 scholarship wide receivers from the 2017 season are returning to the roster in 2018, and Ohio State signed five players at the position in the 2018 recruiting class. All four of Ohio State’s draft-eligible wide receivers from last year chose to return for at least one more season.
At least four of Ohio State’s most important receivers ― Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, Terry McLaurin and standout walk-on CJ Saunders ― will run out of eligibility after the 2018 season. Another, redshirt junior KJ Hill, is expected to leave for the NFL after the season. Junior Austin Mack also could take a long look at the professional ranks if his year goes well.
With the significant exodus of talent at wide receiver after the 2018 season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohio State took as many as four wide receivers again in the 2019 class.
The target board is huge right now at the position, and as many as two dozen prospects could be considered legitimate options. Here are a few of them:
- Theo Wease, Allen (Texas): Theo Wease is the No. 3 wide receiver in the country, and Ohio State is expected to make the next cut on his list of top schools. It seems certain that Ohio State will receive an official visit.
- Garrett Wilson, Austin (Texas) Lake Travis: Garrett Wilson, the No. 90 prospect in the country, is originally from the Columbus suburb of Dublin. The Buckeyes will work hard to bring him back home. In the 2018 class, they signed his quarterback at Lake Travis, the aforementioned Baldwin.
- Trey Knox, Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman: Trey Knox has ideal size at 6-foot-4 and 206 pounds, and the country’s No. 33 receiver is very high on Ohio State.
- David Bell, Indianapolis Warren Central: David Bell badly wanted an Ohio State offer, and he finally landed it on Dec. 4. The Buckeyes routinely have scoured Indiana for top talent, and Bell could be their next Hoosier State steal.
- Lance Wilhoite, Nashville (Tenn.) Franklin Road Academy:The top prospect in Tennessee, Lance Wilhoite is high on the Buckeyes and will be a name to watch moving forward.
- Jordan Whittington, Cuero (Texas): Jordan Whittington recently named Ohio State to his top 7 schools list.
- Mycah Pittman, Calabasas (Calif.): Mycah Pittman, the country’s No. 14 receiver, expects to make an official visit to Ohio State, according to 247Sports recruiting analyst Greg Biggins.
- Jalen Curry, Houston St. Pius X: Jalen Curry referred to Ohio State as a “dream offer” when he picked it up recently. The teammate of recently offered quarterback Gunnell, Curry is ranked as the No. 17 receiver in the country.
- Jadon Haselwood, Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove: Jadon Haselwood is committed to home-state Georgia, and it would be a surprise if the Buckeyes steal the No. 1 receiver in the country from the Bulldogs, but they’ll try.
- Jashawn Sheffield, Saint Simons Island (Ga.) Frederica Academy
- John Dunmore, Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna Prep: Ohio State appears to be developing its relationships with John Dunmore, the No. 152 overall prospect in the country. Dunmore recently put on a show at the Rivals Camp Series event in Miami.
- Arjei Henderson, Richmond (Texas) Fort Bend Travis
Following the 2017 season, Ohio State lost three scholarship players from the tight end position group. Marcus Baugh graduated, redshirt sophomore Kierre Hawkins transferred to Youngstown State and redshirt junior AJ Alexander retired with a career-ending knee injury. Ohio State returns redshirt junior Rashod Berry and redshirt sophomores Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann and adds freshman Jeremy Ruckert. I expect the Buckeyes to bring in one more tight end on scholarship in the 2019 recruiting class.
- Keon Zipperer, Lakeland (Fla.): Keon Zipperer recently received a visit from Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford.
- Isaiah Foskey, Concord (Calif.) De La Salle: Ohio State offered Isaiah Foskey on Feb. 6, one of the most recent offers in the class.
- Erick All, Fairfield (Ohio): Ohio State has not offered Erick All, an in-state prospect, but he’s nearly at double-digit Power 5 offers and is a fast-rising talent.
- Brayden Liebrock, Chandler (Ariz.)
- Hudson Henry, Little Rock (Ark.) Pulaski Academy
Tackle will be a major priority for Ohio State in the 2019 recruiting class. Although the Buckeyes closed strong in the 2018 class to land the Nos. 1 and 9 tackles in the country, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Max Wray, they’ll still need to add significant depth in the 2019 recruiting class.
Projected three-year starter and senior Isaiah Prince will graduate after the 2018 season, as will back-up Malcolm Pridgeon. Kevin Feder transferred out of the program, and longtime starter Jamarco Jones graduated during the offseason. Ohio State will return two tackles ― sophomore Thayer Munford and redshirt junior Joshua Alabi ― who are expected to compete for the starting right tackle position with freshmen Petit-Frere and Wray. Should any of the three underclassmen beat out Alabi, he would have to be considered a potential name to watch to transfer.
With only four tackles, at most, expected to return to the program for the 2019 season, Ohio State likely will load up on the position in the 2019 recruiting class. It’s much easier to turn tackles into interior offensive linemen than it is to do the reverse.
I expect the Buckeyes to take five or six offensive linemen total in the 2019 recruiting class, including as many as four tackles. The good news is that Ohio State is involved with seemingly every elite tackle in the country and already has one (Doug Nester, No. 8 tackle) committed. Here are some of their top targets:
- Darnell Wright, Huntington (W.Va.): As it currently stands, the state of West Virginia is projected to produce its two highest-rated prospects of the last 15 recruiting classes, both offensive linemen. The good news for the Mountaineers? The state is in the midst of a talent boom. The bad news? Ohio State already has nabbed a commitment from one ― Nester ― and holds 100 percent of the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions for Wright, the other. Wright is a 5-star prospect, the No. 3 tackle in the country, and the No. 19 prospect in America.
- Devontae Dobbs, Belleville (Mich.): An Ohio State target since the summer after his freshman season in high school, Devontae Dobbs recently said no one is recruiting him harder than Ohio State. The Buckeyes would be thrilled to land the No. 1 tackle in the country and beat Michigan and Michigan State for an in-state recruit while doing so. It will be an uphill battle against the Spartans, though.
- Ryan Jacoby, Mentor (Ohio): The Buckeyes offered Ryan Jacoby, an in-state prospect, on Jan. 12. It’s rare for Ohio State to miss on players from northeastern Ohio, and that pattern seems likely to hold true for Jacoby, who told Land of 10 that the Buckeyes are “definitely starting to stand out” from the pack. It seems to be a matter of when, and not if, the Buckeyes will land Jacoby. As with Dobbs, Jacoby could move to guard at the next level.
- Harry Miller, Buford (Ga.): Harry Miller, the country’s No. 11 tackle, visited Ohio State on Jan. 13, and the Buckeyes seemingly hit it out of the park for the big-time prospect from Georgia. Clemson, Georgia, and Stanford are some of the top competitors for Ohio State.
- Michael Tarquin, Belleview (Fla.): Michael Tarquin’s recruitment seems to be a battle between Ohio State and Oklahoma, and the Florida tackle likely will make a decision in the summer. The Buckeyes have been very interested in the No. 30 tackle in the country.
- Xavier Truss, Warwick (R.I.) Bishop Hendricken: The rise of Xavier Truss has been meteoric. Coming from lightly recruited Rhode Island, Truss had zero offers during 2017 and was a complete unknown. After attending the Army All-American Underclassmen Combine, the 6-7, 325-pound tackle now has two dozen offers, including from Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU and many other programs that represent a who’s who of college football. He’s now rated as the No. 4 tackle in the country. Ohio State will be a major contender for Truss.
- Andrew Kristofic, Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland: Andrew Kristofic has received tons of attention from Ohio State as of late, including multiple visits from coaches and a recent unofficial visit. He’s not as physically developed as some of his classmates, checking in at just 265 pounds, but has as much upside as any player in the class.
- John Olmstead, Metuchen (N.J.) St. Joseph’s: John Olmstead hasn’t been to Ohio State since Oct. 28, but the New Jersey tackle likely will take an official visit to Columbus at some point. He has ideal size at 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds.
- William Putnam, Tampa (Fla.) Plant
- Quinn Carroll, Minneapolis (Minn.) Edina Senior
- Jonathan Allen, Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar: The Buckeyes have not offered Jonathan Allen, an in-state standout, but the athletic tackle is coming off of his first year playing high school football and already has offers from Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, West Virginia and other programs. He’s a prime offer candidate during camp season and visited on Feb. 10.
- Darrian Dalcourt, Baltimore St. Frances Academy: Darrian Dalcourt is fresh off of a Feb. 10 visit to Ohio State. He might play guard at the next level.
Rimington Award-winning center Billy Price is gone from the Ohio State program. So is departed transfer Jack Wohlabaugh, another center. After the 2018 season, guard Demetrius Knox and center Brady Taylor will run out of eligibility. Junior Michael Jordan, who’s expected to start for a third year, and redshirt juniors Brandon Bowen and Matthew Burrell aren’t guaranteed to be around for the 2019 season, although it would be very surprising if all of them left.
However, Ohio State still has talented back-ups such as redshirt sophomore Gavin Cupp and sophomores Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers on the roster, and the Buckeyes brought in the country’s No. 1 center in the 2018 class, Matthew Jones. Still, Ohio State will have to bring in a large haul of players on the offensive line in this class. I would expect two guards for the Buckeyes in the 2019 recruiting class, but there will be some flexibility.
- Zeke Correll, Cincinnati Anderson: Zeke Correll is the No. 10 guard in the country and one of the top prospects in the state. The Buckeyes will have to fight off Notre Dame and Kentucky (where Correll’s parents attended) for the 4-star standout, but he’d be a strong addition to Ohio State’s recruiting efforts.
- Keiondre Jones, Hogansville (Ga.) Callaway
- Nolan Rumler, Akron (Ohio) Archbishop Hoban: The Buckeyes don’t lose recruiting battles in Ohio often, especially not northeastern Ohio. Yet Nolan Rumler, the No. 4 guard and No. 62 prospect in the country, is committed to Michigan, his childhood dream school. Ohio State wouldn’t be upset to see him change his mind, but it looks unlikely at this juncture.
- Jakai Moore, Nokesville (Va.) Patriot: Jakai Moore recently was offered by Ohio State on Feb. 2, and he tells me he plans to make his first unofficial visit to Columbus in March. He is a prospect to watch down the road for the Buckeyes.
- Bryan Hudson, Georgetown (Ky.) Scott County
- Zach Carpenter, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller: Zach Carpenter, along with the aforementioned Allen, is one of the top two linemen in Ohio not to receive an offer from the Buckeyes, in my opinion. He has ideal size, plenty of starting experience at an elite program and Ohio State’s attention. He visited Columbus on Feb. 10. Carpenter is one of the top prospects to watch for an offer from Ohio State.