No matter how much momentum Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have on the recruiting trail, it’s going to be a battle to the finish for Dallas Gant.
The Toledo (St. John’s) 2018 4-star prospect, the country’s fourth-ranked outside linebacker, has made a handful of visits to Ohio State since April but things are still neck-and-neck between the Buckeyes and one regional rival.
“It’s probably Ohio State and Notre Dame,” Gant, when asked what schools he has the best relationships with, said. “Those are the two schools I communicate with the most.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound linebacker says that there’s just something unique about the Irish and what they offer, especially to a young man who plays at a private school in Toledo.
“Notre Dame,” he said. “There is just more of a traditional feeling when you’re on campus than at Ohio State. It’s kinda like St. John’s with the religious aspect it has.”
The Buckeyes have done an exceptional job throughout the years recruiting – and securing – almost any prospect they want inside of Ohio, but there’s always a sense of uneasiness when it comes to Notre Dame and private school players. Simply put, there’s not much that can be done to “beat” the Irish at that part of the recruiting game.
“I’m not really sure if a school can make that up,” Gant said. “It’s really something unique that a school has about it. I’m sure it will play into my decision making, but it will not be a huge role. I’ll bring (my faith) wherever I go, it’s just a matter of it being a focus at the school.”
Recruiting, generally, is about relationships and though the Irish have the edge with respect to all things spiritual, Ohio State is working to win the relationship angle. Gant visited the Buckeyes in June – and earned an offer from Ohio State – and then returned to campus for Friday Night Lights on July 22.
“The visit for Friday Night Lights went very well,” Gant said. “I had a good time with all the guys and coaches. I got to spend more time with the players on the team, which was a very cool experience and different from the rest of my visits.”
When he wasn’t with the players on the team or fellow recruits, Ohio’s third-ranked 2018 prospect says he was talking to Luke Fickell, the man who would be in charge of his development if he were to eventually choose Ohio State. He says that right now, a month after getting the offer from the Buckeyes, that things aren’t much different than they were before.
“It isn’t that much different, being there with an offer,” he said. “They are still trying to build a good relationship and bond with me and my family. I communicate with (Luke) Fickell a lot. I give him a call every week or two and they talk a lot with my family when I’m down there.”
On Monday, Gant’s junior season with the Titans begins and a month later, the real insanity around his recruitment will. September 1, when college coaches get a lot more access to high school juniors and their families, isn’t something he’s necessarily looking forward to.
“I’m sure recruiting will get much more intense come September,” he said. “Many people have told me it’ll get crazy when coaches are allowed to call.”
Michigan State was one of the first schools to offer Gant and they may be the only program that has a real chance to upset Ohio State or Notre Dame. Right now, it appears that staying close to home, close to family, is what makes the most sense for the Glass City native.
“I probably wouldn’t like to move too far away from this region, mostly for my family, because I know they would want to come to as many games as possible,” Gant said. “Being being closer helps a lot, obviously, but if I find a school away from this region that I absolutely love? My parents will be fine with it as long as it’s where I want to go. They are just enjoying everything and all the amazing experiences we get to have, they aren’t leaning anywhere.”
The only thing that Gant himself is leaning toward? The right fit. The right relationships. The right place for him.
“What I am looking for,” the 4-star linebacker concluded. “Is an elite program, great academics, and a place I feel the most at home.”