To maintain its place among the nation’s elite college football programs, Ohio State cannot rest on the success of its 2017 recruiting class. No, the Buckeyes must get right back to work on securing their top targets for 2018, and they’ve begun that venture in earnest.
Ohio State currently has three commitments in its 2018 class and each is ranked among the Top 61 prospects in the class. So, as you can see, there’s no resting. It’s a grind and it’s an endeavor led by director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and his talented recruiting staff. For 2018 to be a success on par with 2017 – a class that finished second in the country – the Buckeyes will have to aim very high at every position.
We’re going to go spot-by-spot and review the names you need to know with just about one year until signing day. It should not be considered all-inclusive — names will be added and removed — but it’s a place to start the adventure to 2018.
Today, we’ll begin with the game’s most important position: quarterback.
Committed: (1), 5-star Emory Jones, Franklin (Ga.) Heard County High School
When you have a quarterback committed early – especially when it’s a 5-star player from the talent-rich state of Georgia — it’s worth celebrating. Emory Jones, the nation’s top-ranked dual-threat quarterback prospect, committed to the Buckeyes on July 29, 2016, and has not visited any other schools since, which is a good sign.
Jones is a 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect who went head-to-head with Kentucky signee Danny Clark and Ohio State signee Tate Martell last summer at the Buckeyes’ top camp/competition, Friday Night Lights. He was the best quarterback in attendance according to most observers, including some Ohio State staff members.
When you watch Jones you see the potential. But despite his lofty rankings he’s still very raw on the football field and is learning how to learn the game, if that makes sense.
The Ohio State commit had his junior season cut short by a fairly serious shoulder injury and has been rehabbing and strengthening. His lead recruiter, Tim Beck, is now the offensive coordinator at Texas and Jones has said that he’s 100-percent committed to the Buckeyes despite that departure. He’s been an active recruiter for the class and has reiterated that he committed early so that he could help build his class.
But this is 2017 and this is college football recruiting, and that means recruiting still happens, commitment or not. Jones is being recruited by other schools, and as roster turnover and unexpected attrition occurs, there may come a moment when Ohio State needs a different, or a second, quarterback in this class.
No one worried that Danny Clark, who had been committed to the Buckeyes since December 2013, wouldn’t be a Buckeye last February but I wrote then that Ohio State needed a “in case of emergency, break glass” quarterback, and that turned out to be just what happened.
In that vein, we’re going to prepare a list of names to watch … just in case.
Who else could Ohio State consider?
There were a handful of names on the Buckeyes big board when Jones committed to Ohio State and this list has to start with them. One challenge in this kind of prediction is that we’re not entirely sure how quarterback recruiting will change under the direction of Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day, but we should assume that the Buckeyes are looking for players similar to Jones. If you can’t pass, and aren’t at least athletic enough to get a first down with your legs, you probably don’t fit into the Ohio State offense.
4-star, Phil Jurkovec, Gibsonia (Pa.) Richland High School
Jurkovec may have been the only quarterback on the same level with Jones in Ohio State’s eyes last spring and summer. He committed to Notre Dame, but as we saw with Pete Werner a few months ago, if there’s more unrest in South Bend, anything can happen.
4-star, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman
The Buckeyes certainly had a lot of success at Bishop Gorman in 2017, landing Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett from the national powerhouse, and Thompson-Robinson may be the brightest star in Las Vegas next season. He’s a spectacular athlete who played wide receiver – and played it well – during Martell’s time at quarterback, but he’s set to get his first taste of being the man in charge for the Gaels. He’s the country’s fourth-ranked dual-threat quarterback and has close to 15 offers. He visited Ohio State last spring with Martell, but as of today UCLA and Michigan – the school his mother attended – are probably out in front.
4-star, Casey Thompson, Moore (Okla.) Southmoore High School
Tim Beck was a big fan of Casey Thompson, an Oklahoma legacy from the Sooner State, and offered him soon after he arrived at Texas. A 6-foot-1, 180-pound quarterback, Thompson is the type of athlete who would excel in Urban Meyer’s system.
3-star, Jarren Williams, Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett High School
A Kentucky commit out of Georgia, Jarren Williams isn’t a name that many know but you probably should. He’s the country’s 17th-ranked dual-threat quarterback, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many players that have Williams’ size and skill combination. He has 15 scholarship offers – Ohio State isn’t one of them – but he’s a prospect that fits the developing offense. He’s more Cardale Jones than Braxton Miller, but he’s very talented.
3-star, Brennan Armstrong, Shelby (Ohio)
Armstrong may be Ohio’s best quarterback in 2018 and a player worth watching throughout the summer, especially if the Buckeyes decide to take a second quarterback. Armstrong is a very skilled, multi-sport athlete who has been on the Ohio State radar since his freshman season. He’s 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and runs very well. He can spin it around the yard, too. From a mechanical standpoint he needs work, but there’s a lot to like. Armstrong holds 10 offers and North Carolina may have the edge in his recruitment. The last time the Tar Heels went to Northeast Ohio for a quarterback they landed Mitch Trubisky, who might be a Top 5 pick in April’s NFL Draft.