The Ohio State Buckeyes had a nice haul during the first day of the Early Signing Period. The biggest score of the day was none other than getting defensive lineman Zach Harrison to sign his Letter of Intent with OSU. A five-star product from Olentangy Orange, Harrison is a local superstar. If he would’ve gone to either Penn State or Michigan, it would’ve marked the second straight season where the Buckeyes failed to recruit the No. 1 Ohioan. That would’ve be unacceptable.
Fortunately, Ryan Day and the staff swooped in and made the save. Harrison is now a Buckeye, and he’s joined by 14 other talented recruits. Wednesday evening, the OSU football Twitter account posted a neat little video using graphics from one of the NCAA Football games commemorating the 2019 recruiting class. The ending, though, is the best part.
On the downside, Ohio State did lose some verbal pledges. Four-star safety Jordan Battle flipped to Alabama, and four-star quarterback Dwan Mathis flipped to Georgia. While Urban Meyer retiring may have played a role in Battle’s decision to go to Tuscaloosa instead of Columbus, the Mathis flip may have come off the rumor of the Buckeyes being in the mix for Georgia QB Justin Fields, who hit the transfer market on Tuesday afternoon.
Fields is a five-star dual-threat QB, and is on the move after one season as backup behind Jake Fromm. It should be noted that Fields has not signed on yet for OSU, but if he’s able to get a waiver and play immediately, expect every elite program in need of a QB to come knocking. But right now, there’s real indication that Fields is interested in the Buckeyes.
But let’s go back to the main point: The Urban Meyer/Ryan Day coaching change didn’t shake the class up too much. As of right now, 15 prospects have signed on for the Buckeyes, and Doug Nester could be the 16th. Nester is still a Buckeye commit, but may be waiting to see what all happens with the coaching staff at OSU. If big changes occur on the staff, he could be looking elsewhere; if things stay mostly the same, he could be putting pen to paper. Counting Nester, the Buckeyes would have eight four-star prospects in the 2019 recruiting class. That’s good enough for third most in the Big Ten, trailing Michigan and Penn State, who both pulled down an amazing 16 four-stars apiece. But, a place where the Buckeyes trumped the Wolverines and Nittany Lions was in the five-star department. UM and PSU had one five-star apiece; OSU hauled in three, with Harrison, Harry Miller and Garrett Wilson being the five-star talents packing their bags for Columbus.
Overall, Ohio State has the third best class in the Big Ten and the No. 12 overall class in the country, according to 247sports’ metrics. But, there is still some recruiting to be done, and depending on how the next few weeks pan out, the Buckeyes could be making more moves before this class is sealed for good.
There’s a few places Ryan Day may be looking to fill once he officially takes over as head coach after the Rose Bowl. Even though there is a ton of talent in the QB room, it wouldn’t hurt to find another one—especially if Dwayne Haskins chooses to enter the NFL Draft. During his press conference on Wednesday, Day said they’ll figure out what to do after the bowl game in regards to the QB situation.
He noted that they’d like to have four signal-callers on the team. If Haskins is gone, then they’d have three options in Tate Martell, Matthew Baldwin and Chris Chugunov. This would open the door for Fields to transfer to OSU.
However, if Fields comes in, there’s a chance Martell leaves. This has real potential to be a deceiving tough puzzle for Day to solve, and major shake ups could happen on the QB depth chart either way.
Staying on the offense, I’m going to assume Nester signs with Ohio State. If he doesn’t, then the Buckeyes will need to go into overdrive to find an offensive lineman. Teams that make it to December with championship aspirations have depth. If anything, the addition of another lineman commit adds that. We’ve seen in years past where injuries hamper offensives, and the whole operation falls apart in November. Even this year with the Buckeyes, injuries affected the O-line. It stung that Nick Broeker stayed committed to Ole Miss. If he would’ve gone to the Bucks, then they’d be on easy street. Now, they have to wait and see what Nester does.
On defense, a replacement for Battle would be nice to have, too. Cornerback Kaiir Elam, another four-star prospect, would be a good replacement. However, the Bucks would have to turn the gears into overdrive here as well. Not only is he from North Palm Beach, Florida, but the Florida Gators are pegged as the favorite to land his commitment. Whatever the pitch is, it has to be strong enough to pry him away from his home state.