COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s de-commitments in the Class of 2018 came late, but most of them packed a heavy punch.
While it was able to keep together most of an outstanding class, the Buckeyes paid the price in a few instances for recruiting across the country. Of its four players to leave the class, two were from Georgia, one was from Florida and one was from California. Three players flipped to other schools in December, with two of those coming on the first day of the early signing period.
In total, Ohio State lost a 5-star defensive end, a 4-star quarterback, a 4-star safety and a 4-star defensive end. It’s not all bad news, obviously, as the Buckeyes entered the final days of the 2018 recruiting cycle with the No. 1 ranking in the 247Sports composite team rankings.
With that being said, it’s worth reflecting on the few blemishes in an otherwise spotless recruiting year for Ohio State.
4-star S Jaiden Woodbey (Bellflower, Calif.) — Signed with Florida State
One of the wildest Ohio State recruitments in recent memory came to a painful ending for the Buckeyes in an almost unbelievable fashion.
On Dec. 12, a Florida State fan tweeted about the Seminoles to Jaiden Woodbey, who replied that he’d never been offered by them. Later that day, he got a Florida State offer from new coach Willie Taggart … who’d never recruited him while Taggart was at Oregon. Woodbey, who’d been committed to Ohio State since Feb. 6, 2017, took two official visits that weekend ― one to USC, where his father played, and to Florida State.
In a twist that virtually nobody saw coming, Woodbey chose the Seminoles on Dec. 20 over his hometown school where his father played and the program he’d been committed to for nearly a year ― to sign with a program that had been recruiting him for eight days.
4-star QB Emory Jones (Franklin, Ga.) — Signed with Florida
Woodbey wasn’t the only prospect Ohio State lost on Dec. 20, though Emory Jones’ departure was a mere formality by that point. The 4-star quarterback from Franklin (Ga.) Heard County played a six-month long game with the Buckeyes that ended with Ohio State deciding it could wait no longer for a final answer. In early December, the Buckeyes accepted a commitment from 3-star quarterback Matthew Baldwin, a former Colorado State commit.
There was a chance Jones would stay in Ohio State’s class ― which the Buckeyes wanted ― especially since he never seemed sold on suitor Alabama despite his many visits. But when Florida changed coaches and lost its quarterback commit to Ole Miss, the Gators made their pitch to Jones and reeled him in with the help of a visit during the final weekend before the dead period began.
5-star DE Brenton Cox (Stockbridge, Ga.) — Signed with Georgia
A stomach-churning December for Ohio State fans began when Stockbridge, Ga., 5-star defensive end Brenton Cox announced his de-commitment on Dec. 6 after a visit to Alabama. Cox had been committed to Ohio State since April, but his recruitment instead turned into a battle between Alabama and Georgia that the in-state Bulldogs won.
Losing Cox was a big blow for the Ohio State defensive line and set the tone for a month most Buckeyes fans would love to forget.
4-star DE Andrew Chatfield (Plantation, Fla.)
The first departure from the Class of 2018 came from American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) 4-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big loss. Chatfield was one of the lowest-ranked players in the class, and the Buckeyes already had a commitment from Cox as well as good positioning in battles for 5-star defensive end Micah Parsons and 4-star defensive ends Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh.
But in the months after Chatfield’s de-commitment, the Buckeyes backed off Parsons and Cox flipped to Georgia. That left Ohio State with no signees at defensive end in the early signing period, though the Buckeyes did get a commitment from Smith on Jan. 4.
Chatfield remains uncommitted and will announce his pledge on National Signing Day. His primary suitors appear to be Miami and Florida.