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 position-by-position and review the names you need to know with just about one year until the next 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 look at the Buckeyes big board for Zach Smith’s “Zone Six” – the Ohio State wide receivers – and try to break down a few of the top potential targets. Ohio State signed three wide receivers in 2017 and that is the number we’re operating under for 2018 as well. The Buckeyes did not sign a “slot” receiver in 2017 – but did bring in three players over 6-foot-3 – so that becomes one area of concentration.
National names litter the Ohio State board
Ohio State will take its shot with a number of the country’s best prospects, including the top-ranked overall wideout.
Jalen Hall | ★★★★★ | Los Angeles Hawkins High School
Smith and the Buckeyes are beginning to establish themselves as a big name on the West Coast, and there’d be no bigger splash in 2018 than to land Hall.
The 6-foot-4 junior has had regular contact with Smith, but it’s hard to pull a player of this caliber out of California, and it is going to require a Herculean effort by the Buckeyes.
Amon-Ra St. Brown | ★★★★★ | Anaheim (Calif.) Mater Dei High School
Staying on the left coast, St. Brown is the country’s second-ranked wide receiver for 2018 and fits the mold of the interior wideout that Ohio State needs in that class. He’s shorter – just a little more than 6-foot – but he’s solid at almost 190 pounds.
St. Brown was offered by the Buckeyes after signing day, and of the two California wide receivers, he may be more inclined to leave the state — he has two brothers playing at Notre Dame. Could the Buckeyes be the team that stops that trend?
Brennan Eagles | ★★★★ | Houston Alief Taylor High School
One of the most physically imposing players in the country at his position, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Eagles has already earned an invitation to Nike’s The Opening for this summer and has emerged as one of the premier prospects in the nation at wide receiver.
Eagles holds an Ohio State offer, and the country’s seventh-ranked wideout has been a regular communicator with the Buckeyes. Getting him out of Texas hotbed Alief Taylor won’t be easy.
Kamryn Babb | ★★★★ | St. Louis Christian Brothers College
Missouri star Babb has been one of the Buckeyes top targets at wide receiver for a few months and has reciprocated that interest in Ohio State. A 6-foot-1, 190-pound receiver, Babb visited the Buckeyes twice in 2016.
Ohio State is the current 247Sports.com “Crystal Ball” leader for the country’s eighth-ranked wide receiver. He holds offers from 25 schools, picking up scholarship opportunities in recent weeks from Michigan, Penn State, USC and Texas, among others. He’s recently become a big favorite for the Wolverines staff, so this battle may get very interesting over the next few months.
Jahan Dotson | ★★★★ | Hightstown (N.J.) The Peddie School
If there’s a receiver that “fits” what you think of in recent years at wide receiver for Ohio State, it may be Dotson. The country’s ninth-ranked receiver is undersized but could be the most dynamic receiver in the nation with the ball in his hands.
Ohio State has done well in New Jersey, but Dotson is originally out of Nazareth, Pa. Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State and pretty much everyone that’s anyone has offered. He was expected to visit the Buckeyes for their junior day on Jan. 28 but did not make the trip.
CJ Moore | ★★★★ | Tulsa (Okla.) Union High School
6-foot-5, 175-pound Moore did make a visit to Ohio State for the Buckeyes junior day and came away very impressed. He’s the big-body wideout that the Buckeyes signed three times just about two weeks ago, but you can never have too many receivers of that type on you roster.
Oklahoma, Baylor and all the usual suspects will be involved for Moore.
Joshua Moore | ★★★★ | Yoakum (Texas) – IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
A recent transfer to one of Florida’s football factories, the IMG Academy, Moore has made it no secret that he’s a fan of the Buckeyes. He’s a special athlete with more than 50 scholarship offers and has become a major target for the Ohio State coaching staff.
Moore has a twin brother – Jordan – who is already committed to Texas A&M, but don’t be surprised to see Joshua make his own path. Texas, Florida State and Ohio State are all heavily in the mix.
Aron Cruickshank | ★★★ | Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall
Though he’s the lowest-ranked player on this list, don’t sleep on Brooklyn’s Cruickshank. Erasmus Hall has been very good to the Buckeyes since they signed Curtis Samuel out of the school in 2014, and this electric playmaker may be the best to handle the ball there since.
Cruickshank was offered by Urban Meyer and holds scholarships from Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin as well. He has not visited Columbus yet but is definitely a name to watch as the spring and summer rolls around.
Ohio’s best wide receivers for 2018
Of course, you don’t have to look far for talent when you’re located in Ohio. The Buckeyes have a few talented pass catchers in their own backyard for 2018.
L’Christian “Blue” Smith | ★★★★ | Dayton (Ohio) Wayne
Though his recruiting profiles will list him as an “athlete,” Smith sees himself as a wide receiver, and for that reason he’s included on this list. There aren’t many 6-foot-6, 205-pound wideouts around the country and there are even fewer that possess the natural athletic talents that the Dayton two-sport star does. He’s an exceptional basketball player, but his brightest future is on the football field, though he’s still back-and-forth between which sport he’ll focus on heading into college.
Ohio State has offered – so has everyone else in the Midwest – and Blue will take his time to sort things through. If he decides to play football, the Buckeyes are considered the frontrunner for his eventual signature. Ultimately the choice to play both sports – or to play another position, like tight end – may muddle this recruitment.
Joseph “JoJo” Scates | ★★★★ | Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar
Another Dayton product, Scates is 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds and has all the tools you’d like to see from a wide receiver prospect. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, the state’s sixth-ranked player is already committed to Michigan State, meaning he’s unlikely to do much in the way of auditioning for an Ohio State offer. If the Buckeyes decide they want him, they’ll likely have to offer first, and that isn’t normally the way they operate in-state.
Ohio State isn’t alone though. Michigan hasn’t offered, neither has Notre Dame or Penn State. Scates’ recruitment could be an interesting one to pay attention to as we head into the summer months, because he’s as physically talented as any player in Ohio.