Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Buckeyes gain momentum for key target
Recruiting moves at warp speed this time of year, especially with this Ohio State program under Urban Meyer. This time Tuesday, we were discussing Ohio State’s latest offer of the recruiting process, a pitch to 2018 defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste of Bergen (N.J.) Catholic. Jean-Baptiste had been on the Buckeyes’ radar for months, and he worked hard to improve his play and land an offer. He immediately set up an official visit. He was the topic of the day and appeared to be on an imminent path to join the Ohio State recruiting class.
But this is Wednesday, and that’s just old news from Tuesday.
Now, the most important target to track is Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep’s star defensive lineman, Tyler Friday. 247Sports analyst Brian Dohn reported that Friday would announce his commitment to Alabama, Michigan or Ohio State via video. Friday’s father said the video “should come this week” but did not specify a day. Sources close to the recruitment have pointed toward Jan. 12 ― this Friday (fitting, isn’t it?) ― as the day we can expect the see the video.
Throughout the day Wednesday, a flood of Crystal Ball selections came in Ohio State’s favor for Friday, including from Dohn, 247Sports director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong, Ohio State recruiting analyst Bill Greene and many others.
Michigan had been viewed as Ohio State’s strongest competition for Friday down the stretch. He’s taken official visits to Ohio State (Nov. 17), Michigan (Nov. 25), and Alabama (Dec. 15), but it appears that rumored trips to Penn State and Miami are off the table. The potential timing of Friday’s announcement is curious, but the wind certainly seems to be blowing in Ohio State’s favor. Friday is ranked as the nation’s No. 85 overall prospect, the No. 3 defensive tackle and the No. 2 prospect in New Jersey.
There’s some disagreement as to where Friday could end up, in terms of position, if he chooses Ohio State as his landing spot. Friday is regarded as a defensive tackle by 247Sports and ESPN, but he has been ranked as a strongside defensive end by Rivals. At 6-foot-3 and 263 pounds, Friday seems to have a frame that would lend itself to growing into a role occupied by a player such as Dre’mont Jones, but there have been no decisions made by Ohio State.
What does Tyler Friday’s decision mean for Javontae Jean-Baptiste?
An Ohio State source indicated that if Friday were to choose the Buckeyes, it would not have a negative impact on the Buckeyes’ plans to pursue Jean-Baptiste. While Friday is a “tweener” with the ability to play defensive tackle or defensive end, Jean-Baptiste himself floats between outside linebacker and defensive end, depending on scheme. While I’m fairly confident that Jean-Baptiste will play defensive end, there’s some uncertainty about where Friday and Ohio State signee Alex Williams could suit up at the next level.
I still wouldn’t expect any significant movement between Ohio State and Jean-Baptiste until after he makes his way to campus on Jan. 19 for an official visit and sits down with the coaching staff. Despite that, all indications are that Ohio State is in great position to land both of these New Jersey defensive linemen if they want to take them, and it looks like they will.
Landing both Jean-Baptiste and Friday could potentially give Ohio State as many as seven defensive linemen in their 2018 recruiting class, a massive group. The Jersey duo would join 5-star DT Taron Vincent; the country’s top JUCO DT, Antwuan Jackson; in-state defensive end Tyreke Smith; Idaho native and defensive tackle Tommy Togiai; and local product Alex Williams, a player who has the chance to line up at defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end or offensive tackle.
Good luck in your new job
If you’ve been following Ohio State recruiting for several years, you likely remember the name Harry Hiestand. Hiestand has spent the majority of the last 35 years working around college football, but his most recent stint with Notre Dame, which started in 2012, is the most notable for our purposes. The Irish offensive line coach had been somewhat of a thorn in the side to the Buckeyes in recruiting, stealing Ohio offensive linemen Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg from under Ohio State’s nose in the 2016 class.
While Hiestand hasn’t been too much of a nuisance to Ohio State as of late, the list of coaches who have proved the ability to beat Urban Meyer and company for Ohio recruits in recent years is a very short one. It should be a welcome sign for many Buckeyes fans that Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune has reported that the Chicago Bears and new coach Matt Nagy are expected to lure Hiestand away from Notre Dame into an offensive line coaching position in the NFL ranks. He previously coached the Bears offensive line from 2005-09.
Ohio State needs very little help in recruiting, but they’ll be thankful any time one of the best position coaches and best recruiters in the country leaves a regional program. Sometimes, the little things help.
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