While the early signing period has taken away some of the drama and intrigue around National Signing Day, the traditional recruiting holiday on Wednesday will still carry some serious weight for Ohio State fans around the country. The Buckeyes are chasing five prospects to round out their top-ranked 2018 recruiting class and to add further depth to the roster. Which blue-chip prospects will Ohio State finish with? Here’s my final projections for Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class.
Signees: Matthew Baldwin
Projections: Ohio State is done at quarterback with Austin (Texas) Lake Travis native Baldwin signed and enrolled.
Targets: Tavion Thomas
Projections: Ohio State has moved on from Ohio native Tavion Thomas as a last-minute option. With Teague already enrolled and on campus and Florida native Snead signed and following shortly behind, the Buckeyes are all done here. The 2018 position group will be loaded.
Commits: Chris Olave
Projections: After landing California star and deep-threat wide receiver Chris Olave on Jan. 28, the Buckeyes are all done at wide receiver. Ohio State returns its top six pass-catchers from the 2017 season and brings in five highly-regarded recruits to add to a deep group. The “Zone Six” receivers have a bright present and future under wide receivers coach Zach Smith.
Signees: Jeremy Ruckert
Projections: It’s a one-in, one-out policy at tight end for the Buckeyes in this 2018 recruiting class. Marcus Baugh graduates and leaves the program, so in comes blue-chip prospect Ruckert from New York. Ruckert is perhaps the best tight end recruit in the country.
Projections: Offensive line is Ohio State’s most incomplete remaining group in recruiting. Both Jones and Wray are very well-regarded, but the Buckeyes need to add more bodies to the two-deep at tackle. Long-time starter Isaiah Prince will be gone after next season, as will backup Malcolm Pridgeon. Potential tackle options Brandon Bowen and Josh Alabi will be entering their fourth years with the program. The Buckeyes are pursuing 5-star Florida native Petit-Frere and 4-star Maryland product Walker to fill that hole. At this point, I have Petit-Frere going to Florida and Walker going to Penn State, but the Buckeyes are very real contenders for both players. Both players will announce on National Signing Day morning.
UPDATE, 1:35 P.M, Tuesday, Feb. 6: Ohio State has been trending hard for Petit-Frere on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, with predictions coming in Ohio State’s favor from national experts like Steve Wiltfong and Florida-based analysts like Josh Newberg and Luke Stampini. Following Petit-Frere’s visit, I’d heard optimism from Ohio State sources who felt that they knocked the visit out of the park, but wasn’t yet ready to update my prediction away from the Gators. It appears that Ohio State has effectively dissuaded concerns related to Greg Schiano’s likely departure and put together a strong enough pitch centered on academic strength, non-football opportunities, and on-field development and opportunities to haul in the 5-star tackle. At this point, I expect Ohio State to land Petit-Frere on ESPNU on Wednesday, Feb. 7 around 10 A.M.
Commits: Tyler Friday
Targets: Javontae Jean-Baptiste
Projections: Another loaded group for the Buckeyes, they’ve already secured perhaps the best defensive line recruiting class in the country. However, Jean-Baptiste, a 4-star New Jersey defensive end, is still out there, and the Buckeyes are hoping to beat Nebraska for his services. I have Jean-Baptiste signing with the Cornhuskers, but Ohio State is involved here as well.
Targets: Christopher Oats
Projections: The Buckeyes are done at linebacker. Ohio linebacker Christopher Oats will sign with Kentucky, and Ohio State will leave very satisfied with its three signees — Mitchell, Gant and Pope. All three are regarded as 4-star prospects by the 247Sports composite rankings.
Projections: Despite their best efforts to pull off late surprises with several different targets, Ohio State will go into Signing Day very satisfied with a standout defensive back recruiting class. Although Hooker, a legacy recruit, seems like a project, Johnson, Proctor, and Banks all have an opportunity to compete for early playing time with departing starters and contributors leaving the Ohio State secondary.