COLUMBUS, Ohio — With 18 commitments, Ohio State football currently has the nation’s No. 1-rated group in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
But the Buckeyes are still in contention for a number of other top-rated players, and that could put this class in the discussion as one of the most talented ever. As the months tick away and National Signing Day grows closer, here is a look at the five most critical recruiting battles left for coach Urban Meyer.
5-star DE Micah Parsons
Ohio State has been viewed as Micah Parsons’ most likely destination since he abandoned his Penn State commitment in April, but that line of thinking may be shifting. In the wake of his news-filled visit to Ohio State, crystal ball predictions have shifted to favor the Nittany Lions again. While Parsons is a tremendous talent, some trepidation in Columbus and Happy Valley could lead to Nebraska becoming a legitimate player in his recruitment.
5-star T Jackson Carman
As my colleague Jeremy Birmingham noted about Jackson Carman, it’s increasingly likely that maybe the Fairfield, Ohio, native would just rather attend school outside of Ohio. Even if that’s the case and there’s nothing the Buckeyes can do about it, it’s not an acceptable outcome to lose the No. 9 player in the country when he’s less than two hours away. As long as the Twitter drama subsides, he’s a must-get. Those issues can be worked out later. Both USC and Clemson are real threats to land him, so Ohio State has some work left to do.
5-star CB Anthony Cook
Anthony Cook has long been thought of as an eventual Ohio State commit, but Tom Herman and Texas are pushing for the No. 14 overall recruit. That could turn this into a formidable test, but Cook is friends with 2017 Ohio State signees Baron Browning and Jeffrey Okudah, which means he’ll hear first-hand from Texans about life at Ohio State. This is a battle that the Buckeyes should win over Texas and LSU.
4-star DE Tyreke Smith
Tyreke Smith is another Ohioan who isn’t a sure thing. He’s originally from California, and he visited USC both this summer and again for an official visit for the Trojans’ game against Texas. He also has plans to take official visits to Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State and Oregon. The Buckeyes remain the favorite, with Penn State probably second, but it’s another case where Ohio State must work to ensure it lands an in-state prospect.
4-star DE Jayson Oweh
Jayson Oweh is essentially down to Penn State and Ohio State, and this one will be fun to watch. He’s from Blairstown, N.J., so it’s more convenient for him to get to State College than Columbus. Oweh used his official visit to Ohio State for the Oklahoma game but used an unofficial to Penn State the following week, which means he still has his official left. Can the Buckeyes get him back on campus for another unofficial? Doing so would help in the fight for the nation’s No. 158 overall recruit.