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In-state standout Tyreke Smith already committed to school of his choice
Fans of five college football programs hope to see Tyreke Smith select their favorite team Thursday evening. The Cleveland standout, considered a top-10 defensive end recruit, plans to publicly reveal his choice during the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla.
The annual event, broadcast on ESPN2 starting at 6 p.m. ET, formally will conclude a widespread recruitment process. Smith, a 6-foot-4, 252-pound prospect, explained Saturday this decision doesn’t carry much suspense from his standpoint.
Though he maintains a top 5 of Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Southern Cal, this process is down to one school. Smith finalized plans in December.
“I let them know maybe three weeks ago,” he said during All-America Game media day.
It is worth noting that while Smith is a “silent” commit, he is not a silent signee. Despite secretly being a member of one recruiting class entering college football’s early signing period (Dec. 20-22), he opted not to lock into a letter of intent.
“They encouraged me to sign, but I didn’t sign,” Smith said.
So, what ultimately made the difference?
“Development, family, education were three things I focused on,” he said. “I have a 4.0 [GPA], and I take that very serious. I feel like it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. You get this opportunity and with the schools I have, I want to put myself in the best position to get developed. So I went with the school I felt that way about.”
Smith, who raved about the Buckeyes’ defensive performance vs. USC in the Cotton Bowl, would be another marquee addition for Urban Meyer. Already carrying the Big Ten’s top-ranked 2018 recruiting class, Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson have prioritized him as a priority final piece.
— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) December 30, 2017
Penn State is viewed as the primary competition in this pursuit, and he described an impressive official visit to Penn State in December. Still, Ohio State is perceived as the favorite here among recruiting analysts, and Johnson’s recent declaration about future coaching plans seemed to make an important impact on Smith during this final stretch.
“That meant a lot,” he said. “He told me before he went out in public that he was staying. I mean, I trust his word. I think he’s an honest man. So that meant a lot to me. People say don’t pick schools based off of coaches, but it’s kind of hard because you want the guy to be there when you’re there.”
Smith, who compared himself to Nick Bosa while discussing the current Buckeyes defensive front, collected 70 tackles, 23 tackles for loss and 11 sacks this season as a Cleveland Heights High School senior.
— Tyreke Smith™ (@T_23_baller) August 29, 2017
Ohio State target Jayson Oweh down to 2, faces difficult decision
Smith isn’t the only Ohio State defensive end target in Orlando. Jayson Oweh, a fast-rising recruit who attends Blair Academy (Blairstown, N.J.), also will announce collegiate plans during the All-America broadcast.
Unlike Smith, he expressed some anxiety about the impending development.
“I probably won’t sleep [Wednesday night], to be honest,” Oweh said. “Until I say where I’m going.”
The 6-5, 240-pound playmaker traveled to Ohio State three times since May, including Friday Night Lights in July and an official visit for the Buckeyes’ home opener. Only Penn State hosted Oweh more often, welcoming Oweh to Happy Valley on five occasions.
Despite late pushes from programs such as Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame, this decision comes down to Buckeyes vs. Nittany Lions. These Big Ten foes probably benefited from the Wolverines’ lack of an early offer, even though he used an official visit to Ann Arbor in November.
“To be honest, Michigan was too late,” Oweh said. “If it was earlier, they probably would’ve definitely been [a finalist] because they’re everything my parents wanted and what I wanted. But, at that point, it was too late.”
— Jayson Oweh (@JaysonOweh) December 28, 2017
Oweh has invested considerable efforts in an attempt to identify his ideal landing spot.
“I’m indecisive, so I would go to [a school], do a lot of homework, ask them a lot of questions, they would tell me what I wanted to hear, then I’d go back on my laptop and search everything they told me,” he said.
Along the way, Oweh has described two key elements: a strong engineering school and proven defensive line coach. He’s consistently expressed admiration for Johnson, who has spearheaded this recruitment on behalf of the Buckeyes, and did so again Saturday.
“Coach Johnson is obviously GOAT. Greatest, but he’s older,” Oweh said.
He actually spoke with Johnson about his career longevity shortly before the coach attempted to dispel any retirement rumors on social media. Johnson, Meyer and Greg Schiano attended a Blair Academy basketball game in December.
Oweh, who recorded 13 sacks in five games as a senior, compared official visits to his two options Saturday.
“Penn State was different because they won,” he said. “When I went to Ohio State, they didn’t win, so everything was kind of gloomy. But it was still great. I saw the business aspect of everything, and it really helped me understand what they can do for your future.”
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