Mark Pantoni, Urban Meyer, and the Ohio State recruiting think tank kept the pedal to the metal Friday evening when 2014 quarterback Stephen Collier from Leesburg, Georgia gave his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes.
The commitment caught the collective Ohio State fan base (and especially Buckeye recruiting enthusiasts) by surprise. Not so much because Collier's present 3-star rating is the be-all and end-all with respect to his talents (SB Nation's Jason Kirk for one glowed about his athleticism), but because it was widely expected the next step in the process would be waiting until July 18th to see what 4-star quarterback Brandon Harris would decide to do. If Harris elected to go to Auburn or LSU as expected, it was thought that Collier or Brandon Dawkins could be next up if the Buckeyes didn't elect to skip adding a quarterback in this class.
But don't for a second think that the Buckeyes wouldn't both formally offer Collier and then accept his commitment if they didn't think he'd fit a need. With the help of SB Nation Recruiting's Bud Elliott, let's take a look at what Collier brings to the table for the Buckeyes:
Frame/build: Good, with room for future growth.
Arm strength: It's there. He can make every throw that Urban's offense requires. 4.2 GPA; someone I would want on my team.
Personality: He was really a cool kid when we chatted (Ed.: Our Charles Doss echoed this sentiment). Didn't big-time me. I know the Elite 11 staff loved him as well.
Athleticism: He's not Braxton Miller, but he needs to be accounted for in the run game.
Now, he is somewhat raw. His motion needs some reworking, because he does push the ball more than I'd like to see. Raw, but good tools. If Ohio State gives him time, he is not a reach. Think 2016 type impact.
So what does this mean at the quarterback position for the Buckeyes? Braxton Miller will either be an early entry into the 2014 NFL Draft or a senior to be, Cardale Jones will be a redshirt sophomore heading into that season, and J.T. Barrett will likely be a redshirt freshman (though it's still possible he sees garbage time this coming fall).
As Bud alluded to, Collier is very likely two to three seasons away before we see the full impact of his commitment. Does this mean the door is closed on adding a second quarterback in this class? Because of the NCAA sanctions against the Buckeyes, this was expected to be a slightly smaller class (in the 20-22 range in scope). But a source did tell us a few months back that they actually thought OSU might take two when everything's said and done. It seemed unlikely at the time, but with Harris still out there having said himself Friday evening he was still interested, it looks a lot more intriguing of a possibility than perhaps it once did.
It's worth noting that Harris has since deleted one tweet acknowledging that Collier's commitment changed nothing for him, a second stating "if you care about a school taking 2 quarterback [sic] or competing with other guys your [sic] not the right player! Show up and compete!!" and a third in which he openly speculated whether a congratulatory tweet from Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen (a player who's commitment spurred Harris into eliminating Texas A&M from consideration) to Collier was a potshot at him. But he did just tell Bucknuts' Dave Biddle that OSU was at 'the top of his list' ($) Thursday. Our money is still on him winding up elsewhere, but stranger things have happened.
Finally, shifting gears back to Collier, in the short term the Buckeyes' newest signal caller didn't waste anytime hitting the recruiting trail to try and find himself a weapon:
@TheTerry_25 come join me man! Be great!— Stephen Collier (@Stephen5Collier) June 22, 2013
Terry McLaurin, the recipient of Collier's Tweet, could very well join the 2014 class, perhaps as soon as before this weekend's over.The addition of Collier also gives the Buckeyes eight representatives at next month's Nike's "The Opening 2013" in Oregon. The rest of the Big Ten has eight combined. And to make matters even more intriguing, Buckeye targets Raekwon McMillan, Quincy Wilson, Demetrius Knox, Johnnie Dixon, Trevion Thompson, Thomas Holley, Solomon Thomas, Derrell Scott, Curtis Samuel, and Austin Roberts will all also be in attendance. At this point it'd be shocking if after the fact that Buckeyes *didn't* wind up having had double digit attendees at the prestigious, exclusive camp. Collier will also be participating in the Elite 11 Finals, trying to make it as one of the Top 11 quarterbacks in the 2014 class.
SB Nation Recruiting's Bud Elliott contributed to this report.