From the College Football Playoff down to bragging rights, tomorrow’s Ohio State-Michigan game has a number of significant factors for both schools. Outside of playoff implications, recruiting may be the most important part of the game.
Sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins, a former four-star recruit, came out and said he left his home state of Texas to play in games like this.
J.K. Dobbins on Ohio State-Michigan: “Next week’s game is what I left Texas for.”— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) November 18, 2018
How much Michigan have you watched this year? "A lot."
It’s no secret how big this rivalry is for current players and recruits. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the notable prospects making their way to Columbus for The Game.
Coming to campus
Like always, many big names will be in attendance for The Game. A few guys who are already verbal commits, including Bryson Shaw, Jack Miller and Jake Wray will be in town.
In addition, Jared Harrison-Hunte, Cavon Butler, Renardo Green, D’Von Ellies are taking their official visits tomorrow. Ellies is a four-star prospect and the remaining three are all three-stars.
Lejond Cavazos and Paris Johnson Jr., both 2020 verbal commits, will be there as well. They’ll likely try to convince other big-time 2020 recruits like Mekhail Sherman and Fred Davis to join them.
Sherman is a five-star linebacker from Washington D.C. and Davis is a five-star cornerback from Jacksonville, Florida.
Another notable name that will be in Columbus tomorrow is Dane Middlebrook Jr. Middlebrook is a three-star defensive tackle from Brownsburg, Indiana.
What it means for Ohio State recruiting
It’s obvious that Saturday’s game will be the best time to show recruits what Ohio State has to offer. When the rivalry game is at home, it’s important to have high profile recruits in attendance.
This year’s game is particularly interesting because Ohio State only has 15 verbal commits in its current class. Urban Meyer always emphasizes the importance of having enough bodies and depth on the roster and tomorrow’s game will factor in on how this year’s class is finalized.
There’s no doubt he’ll want that number to be at 25 once signing day comes around on Feb. 6. We all know what Urban Meyer is capable of when it comes to recruiting, so don’t be surprised if he convinces a few gems to flip their commitments before February.
Of course, this game will also be big for the 2020 class. As previously mentioned, two uncommitted five-stars in that class will be in Columbus, and many others will have eyes on this game.
With seven verbal commitments already for 2020, the Buckeyes are out to a strong start for next year’s recruiting cycle. It would be luxurious to add to that this weekend, or in the near future.
Winning the game tomorrow is obviously the ideal situation. Considering what has already transpired this season, there would be nothing better than spoiling Michigan’s shot at the Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff.
For the concerns of recruiting, the most important thing, though, is that the team shows up and at least plays a competitive game. Believe it or not, Ohio State can’t win The Game every year. It just won’t work like that.
That’s why they need to at least show up and prove to recruits that they’re better than the team we’ve seen the past six weeks or so. A strong finish to the year will be huge, even for a school like Ohio State that usually dominates recruiting.
It’s hard to think of a world where Michigan beats Ohio State and goes to the Big Ten Championship on Dec. 1. For recruiting, and in general, let’s hope that the Buckeyes play for more than just a win, but for their self-pride.
Sometimes in the past few weeks, it hasn’t looked like they’ve been doing that. The good news is that a couple times in the past few years Ohio State has played well against Michigan despite struggling in weeks prior.
It may be too late for some, or even a lot, or 2019 prospects to sign to Ohio State, but a lot can change from now to Feb. 6. Meyer may take this game more seriously than anyone else, so let’s see what he has up his sleeve and if it can translate into good news on the recruiting front.