To maintain its place among the nation’s elite college football programs, Ohio State cannot rest on the success of its 2017 recruiting class. The Buckeyes are looking to secure top targets for 2018, and they currently have three commits in the class. Each is ranked among the top 61 prospects in the country.
We’re going to go position-by-position and review the names you need to know in advance of the next signing day. Names will be added and removed, but it’s a place to start the adventure to 2018.
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This time around, we’re chasing down the country’s best tight ends. Ohio State did not sign a player at the position in 2017 and probably will try to bring in two for 2018.
The top targets from around the country
Ohio State’s top target at tight end is the country’s best overall prospect at the position, in my opinion.
Jeremy Ruckert | Lindenhurst (N.Y.) High School | ★★★★
There is zero doubt that right now, Ohio State’s top target at tight end for 2018 is New York’s Jeremy Ruckert. The country’s second-ranked tight end, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, has been to campus in Columbus three times since July and the Buckeyes currently have 100 percent of the 247Sports.com “crystal ball” predictions on Ruckert. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is a fluid route-runner and a reliable pass-catcher.
Michigan might be Ohio State’s biggest competition for Ruckert and new offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Kevin Wilson will have to illustrate to Ruckert that Ohio State is going to utilize the position in its offense. Expect a decision no later than August.
Mustapha Muhammed | Missouri City (Texas) Ridgepoint | ★★★★
The Buckeyes have done very well in Texas in recent years and they just signed former 5-star cornerback Kendall Sheffield out of Missouri City. But that isn’t offering much help in the recruiting efforts with Mustapha Muhammed. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end visited Ohio State in November and he (along with his mother) came away from the visit very impressed. Getting him back to campus this spring or summer is paramount for the Buckeyes’ cause.
Brevin Jordan | Las Vegas Bishop Gorman | ★★★★
Speaking of places that Ohio State has had recent success, Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman will once again be a regular stop for the Buckeyes coaching staff this year and Brevin Jordan is just one reason why. Jordan waited awhile for his offer from Ohio State (he got it in January). He is not as tall as most of the players on this list (6-foot-3) and some view him as a bit of a “‘tweener,” which may explain the reason for the delay in an offer. Wilson, though, wasted no time in making sure he got one. Jordan did not visit Ohio State with his Gorman teammates last year so it will be interesting to see if the three-time national champion makes it to Columbus this spring.
Zach Sheffer | Ponte Vedra Beach (Fla.) Nease | ★★★
He doesn’t get the recruiting attention that Ruckert does but Florida’s Zach Sheffer, the country’s 16th-ranked tight end, has a lot of contact with the Ohio State coaching staff. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Sheffer, out of Tim Tebow’s alma mater at Nease, will visit the Buckeyes on March 31-April 1. He already holds an Ohio State offer.
Luke Ford | Carterville (Ill.) | ★★★
The final out-of-state option we’ll discuss today (though there certainly are dozens more) is Illinois standout Luke Ford. He’s been in recent contact with Ohio State but, as of now, does not have a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes. That could change when the spring evaluation period kicks off in April and Wilson can see Ford in person. Until he gets an offer, Ford says he won’t visit Columbus. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound athlete also plays defense for Carterville and is one of the country’s most intriguing prospects heading into the spring.
Ohio State’s best options in the state of Ohio
Though Ohio State is certainly a national brand capable of landing players from anywhere in the country, a case could be made that at tight end the Buckeyes never have to leave their home state. There’s a ton of big-time talent at tight end in Ohio for 2018 and most every season.
Right now, though, none of the in-state prospects hold an Ohio State offer. That’s likely to change over the next few months. The question is, which one of these guys will get it?
Trenton Gillison | Pickerington Central | ★★★★
Pickerington’s Trenton Gillison is a Michigan State commitment and Ohio’s top tight end prospect in 2018. He’s a player that fits the mold physically at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. If there’s a “knock” on him, it’s that he may not be as explosive as some of his peers. Still, he’s solid and moves well.
Brenden Bates | Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller | ★★★★
For the third straight recruiting cycle, Cincinnati Moeller has a major tight end prospect on its roster, and for the second straight cycle it’s unclear what the Buckeyes are going to do about it. They signed Jake Hausmann in their 2016 class but passed on 2017 4-star Matt Dotson (he ended up at Michigan State). Now they’re getting to know 6-foot-5, 215-pound Brenden Bates. Ohio State has stayed in contact with Bates and he intends to visit campus in the spring. He’s athletic and lean and may not be as physically ready for college as players like Ruckert and Muhammed, but he’s got a well-rounded game.
Jack Cravaack | Cincinnati Madeira | ★★★
Another emerging prospect from Cincinnati is 6-foot-5, 225-pound Jack Cravaack, who has been hearing from the Buckeyes. Cravaack plays in a run-heavy offense but has managed to rack up 13 offers. He told Land of 10 that he grew up a big Ohio State fan. He expects to camp with the Buckeyes this summer, as he did a year ago.
Josh Whyle | Cincinnati La Salle | ★★★
The final prospect we’ll mention today is yet another Queen City player. The Buckeyes have been in contact with the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Whyle, formerly a wide receiver for the Lancers. Purdue and Kentucky, along with Temple, Bowling Green and Western Michigan have offered this week and the country’s 16th-ranked tight end is beginning to go national.