Last Wednesday, Ohio State put the finishing touches on its historic recruiting class by adding ‘17 OT Thayer Munford of Massillon Washington (OH). The class featured a handful of five-star prospects, 14 four-star players, and just two three-stars. In his National Signing Day presser, Urban Meyer raved about the class and the potential of it becoming very special.
However, Meyer had an interesting response in regards to recruiting the state of Ohio. On Signing Day, the Buckeyes receiver signatures from just seven in-state prospects — Jerron Cage, Jaylen Harris, Munford, Josh Myers, Amir Riep, Brendon White, and Marcus Williamson. At a press conference last week, Meyer was asked if taking just seven Ohio kids in the cycle was enough.
No, it's not. No, 50 percent is kind of the mark that I've been trying to -- I keep it right in front of me and I stare at it and make sure that we're doing right.
When Ohio State’s Director of Player Personnel Mark Pantoni was asked about the low number of Ohioans, he echoed the same sentiments:
No, it wasn't, not enough Ohio. That's something we want our percentage to be much higher on. There's too much talent in this state, but at the same time, we're also searching for the best players in the country.
We always have to keep reminding ourselves Ohio kids are our first priority. They will be. Sometimes we probably over evaluate them because those are the kids we get to camp so many times, we know all about, versus a kid out of state. Trust me, we place so much emphasis on the state of Ohio and we're going to continue to and do our best to get the best players out of the state of Ohio.
As we fast forward to the 2018 recruiting cycle, much like Ohio State has, this is a good year to bounce back and reel in much more homegrown talent to the Scarlet and Gray. Let’s take a look at the current Top 10 players in the state and see how the Buckeyes stand in their respective recruitments.
Jackson Carman, OT, Fairfield
First things first, not only is Carman the top graded player in the state of Ohio, he is also one of the best in the entire country. The five-star prospect is currently pegged as the eighth highest rated recruit in the class and the best at his position. The Buckeyes initially began pursuing Carman back in mid-December of 2015, when they offered him a scholarship. Since receiving the offer, the 6’6, 290-pounder has made nine trips to check out the campus. Carman even made one visit prior to reeling in that offer from Ohio State. That alone should speak volumes on the interest that Carman has in the Buckeyes. It’s no surprise why 100% of predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball have him pegged to the play in Columbus.
Jaelen Gill, RB, Westerville South
Gill comes in graded as a four-star prospect and already holds over two dozen offers to his name. Programs such as Florida, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, USC, and many more are hopeful to bring him into the fold much like the Buckeyes are. The good news here for Ohio State is Gill, just like Carman, is widely expected to land in Columbus.
L’Christian Smith, ATH, Wayne
Despite not devoting his full attention to the gridiron — Smith is also a standout basketball player — the 6’6, 205-pound athlete is already recognized as one of the best players in the state. While Smith is listed as an athlete, it’s fully expected that the four-star prospect will enter college as a wide receiver if he decides to focus on football. If Ohio State’s recent trend of securing tall, lengthy pass-catchers stands, Smith should be a must-get target for the Buckeyes. As of now, race for Smith seems to be between Ohio State and Michigan State. That could very well change as more offers will certainly come down the pipe for Smith.
Dallas Gant, LB, St. John’s Jesuit
Gant is a prospect that Ohio State would love to add on the defensive side of the ball. The thing to watch here is the fact that the Buckeyes no longer have Luke Fickell on their staff, as he took the head coaching gig at Cincinnati. Despite the fact that offensive line coach Greg Studwara is Gant’s primary recruiter, he and Fickell — who would have been his position coach had he chose Ohio State — enjoyed a great relationship. It will be vital for new linebacker coach Bill Davis to build a bond with the 6’3, 201-pounder. Until then, you can’t count out Notre Dame in this race. But for now, I like the positioning here for the Scarlet and Gray.
Leonard Taylor, TE/DL, Springfield
Taylor, who was once pledged to Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, is currently graded as the eighth-best tight end in the country. However, Taylor could very well find his living in college along the defensive line. All in all, Ohio State is in a good spot to be the beneficiary of the four-star prospect’s decommitment from Michigan back in August. Taylor was last on campus in late November when the home team outlasted their rivals in double overtime.
Joseph Scates, WR, Dunbar
Much like Smith, Scates is a blue-chip receiver. The Dayton native stands 6'3 and weighs 175 pounds, and he has caught offers from 13 programs to this point. At the moment, Ohio State isn't one of them. Scates is currently committed to Michigan State as of mid-January. We will have to wait and see if the Buckeyes eventually do offer him and if it would change anything for the four-star prospect.
Tyreke Smith, DE, Cleveland Heights
On the other hand, Smith — who is now former teammates with '17 WR signee Jaylen Harris — does have an offer from Ohio State. Smith has also garnered national recognition; Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, and USC are just a few programs that are in pursuit of the Cleveland standout. Not long ago, the Nittany Lions seemed to be in the lead for Smith. However, once the Buckeyes offered, things seemed to take a turn. Right now, Ohio State owns 77% of predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball.
Xavier Henderson, ATH, Pickerington Central
Henderson is currently committed to the Spartans and has been for quite some time now. The 6'0, 189-pounder gave his pledge to Mark Dantonio back in September of last year. With that being said, despite not having an offer from Ohio State, I would not count out the Buckeyes here. Obviously, that offer will have to come and I think it will sooner rather than later.
Trenton Gillison, TE, Pickerington Central
Gillison is yet another Ohio prospect that has already given his pledge to Michigan State, which has obviously gotten off to a tremendous start in the state. Much like Scates and Henderson, he has not been offered by OSU yet and depending on what happens at the TE position, it may not come. Ohio State is in good shape right now with '18 TE Jeremy Ruckert. If things don't come to fruition with Ruckert, Gillison may get an offer. It wouldn't be a shocker for Gillison to explore the option of playing at home for the Buckeyes.
Brenden Bates, TE, Moeller
Some fine offers have already came in for Bates, a Cincinnati resident. The Bearcats, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and more have extended scholarships to the towering 6'5 tight end. However, outside of Ohio State whiffing on multiple targets at the position, I don’t see Bates in Columbus.
Others that have offers
In a surprise to no one, Ohio has talent in cities all across the state. So, while the names listed above are graded as the Top 10 players in the state for now, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, there is many others to watch. Here are some Ohioans that are outside of the Top 10 that have already received offers from the Buckeyes.
Aeneas Hawkins, DT, Moeller — It didn't take long for this kid to become a highly-touted player from programs across the country. Despite being graded as a three-star, Hawkins has corralled offers from some of the best in the country. The 247Sports Crystal Ball says Ohio State is on top with five predictions going their way.
Christopher Oats, LB, Winton Woods — First off, I would undoubtedly say that Oats is and will be ranked as a Top 10 Ohioan when it is all said and done. I also love where the Buckeyes stand with the 6'4, 215-pounder. Oats has plenty of options as offers continue to come in. One source relayed to me that Oats is mostly focused on Cincinnati, Miami (FL), Michigan State, Ohio State, and Ole Miss for now. Personally, I think this is more of a when and not if situation for the Scarlet and Gray. I think Oats will be a Buckeye come February of 2018.