It’s been a tough month for Ohio State. Through investigations, reports, and just about every take imaginable being fired off in the past 20 days, the Buckeyes are still without head coach Urban Meyer, and could be rolling with interim Ryan Day for the foreseeable future, depending on what the Board of Trustees announce based on the investigation done into this.
While momentum seems to be heading towards Meyer being reinstated, possibly with suspension, there’s still a ton of uncertainty around the program. Uncertainty isn’t good for any part of a football program, but it can be especially devastating in recruiting, where everything is centered around trust, and a recruit’s willingness to buy into a program to help him grow as a player and as a person.
Without a true head coach in place, Ohio State’s recruiting has obviously skidded to a near halt in the past weeks. That isn’t surprising. What is surprising, however, is that Ohio State hasn’t lost a single commitment thus far in either their 2019 or 2020 classes. Every single pledge has remained solid, and while many of them are very concerned, for good reason, none jumped ship in preparation for possible bad news. That’s a huge deal.
The same cannot be said about some targets for the Buckeyes. Several recruits have taken a step back in their recruitment since the original news broke, including wide receiver Marcus Washington, and defensive back Peyton Powell, among others. While Washington’s reasons for stepping back weren’t exclusively related to the investigation, and he would’ve likely been headed to Missouri either way, I do think it made a difference.
Peyton Powell’s commitment date of Aug. 13 was impacted as well, and he’s one of two recruits we’re talking about today that seem to be backing away from Ohio State a bit. Heading into this month, Ohio State was the obvious leader for the Odessa, Texas product, and it felt like just a matter of time before he made his commitment official and public.
While the investigation certainly caused pause, perhaps the bigger event was Powell picking up an offer from Oklahoma on July 30. At the time, I said that Oklahoma may be a factor, but I still saw Ohio State landing Powell. I do think the Buckeyes are still an option for Powell, but at this point, I expect Oklahoma will be Powell’s choice, likely in late September.
He visited Norman, Okla., recently, and all things indicate that it went very well. Norman is far closer to his home in Texas, and their style of play fits his game a bit better. I think Ohio State will still have a chance if/when Meyer is reinstated, but at this point, I think they trail the Sooners by quite a bit.
The second recruit that seems to be trending away from the Buckeyes is a huge one, both physically and in terms of impact on the 2020 class. Oak Park, Mich., lineman Justin Rogers had been heavily favoring Ohio State for months, but recently, Georgia seemingly stormed ahead, following a late July visit.
That made it even more concerning when Rogers announced that he would be committing soon. While it’s not clear if Rogers meant a college commitment or a commitment to an All-American game (this is not at all uncommon), conventional wisdom seems to indicate that the former is more likely than the latter. That also means that Ohio State will be missing out on a five-star 2020 lineman, unless things change quickly.