“I believe it’s our responsibility at Ohio State to recruit your players at the highest level and to keep our players at home.”
The battle to recruit high school football players from Ohio has always been hot. It’s well-established that the state, with its storied history at the high school level, produces some of the nation’s best college prospects year in and year out. And given that one of the top programs in college football sits right at the center of the state, it makes sense that Ohio State would be at the epicenter of the effort to sign the best among these recruits.
This area is one of focus for Ryan Day, who is committed to raising the bar for high school football throughout the state and keeping players in Ohio--even if it is not with Ohio State directly.
This year, that meant that the Buckeyes signed the top prospect in the state in defensive end Zach Harrison. However, keeping top players close to home is not always the norm. While Ohio State also signed outside linebacker Cade Strover, the No. 4 prospect in the state, three of the top-five players from Ohio opted to go to elsewhere -- including Michigan. Last season, the Buckeyes successfully recruited four of the top-five prospects in the state, but no one else in the top-20. And the top 2018 recruit from the state and sole Ohio five-star, offensive tackle Jackson Carman, opted to go to Clemson.
Yes, it is exciting when the Buckeyes are able to poach top players from Michigan (though that hasn’t happened in the last two recruiting cycles). But it’s also important to maintain supremacy in recruiting on the program’s own turf. That means not losing the battle for Toledo recruits going to Michigan or Cincinnati players to Notre Dame. It’s especially important when players opt to go to other Big Ten schools who will be facing off against Ohio State, potentially with chips on their respective shoulders for not being wooed by their home-state’s flagship university.
“The Buckeyes’ brutal January looks different now.”
The Ohio State men’s basketball team is by no means out of the woods just yet. But things are certainly looking up as the team makes its case for the NCAA Tournament. After a crushing start to the Big Ten season, which included winning just a single game (over Nebraska) in the month of January, the Buckeyes are winners of three-straight to open February. The three-point win on the road against Indiana in what was the lowest-scoring game of the season for Ohio State showed that this team may finally be getting on the right track -- even if it is in a scrappy, cover-your-eyes type of way.
And as the dust settles on the first half of conference play and clear leaders emerge, the losing streak in January looks like less of a reason for panic and more like an unfortunate stretch of scheduling--although, to be clear, losing six-of-seven is never a good thing, and the loss to Rutgers is still that bad. The fact is that Michigan and Michigan State are both really good. Both are listed as two-seeds in ESPN’s latest bracketology. Similarly, Purdue looks like a three-seed at the moment, while Iowa and Maryland both hold six-seeds.
With the win over Indiana yesterday, the Buckeyes move to 6-6 in the Big Ten, smack-dab in the middle of the conference standings ahead of Minnesota and Illinois. Considering all the teams ahead of Ohio State are looking like solid tournament selections, it’s not necessarily a bad spot to be in-- it just means the Buckeyes have a lot of work to do at the tail end of conference play to improve their standing. Losses to tournament-level teams are discouraging, yes, but considering the strength of the Big Ten overall, few other bubble teams are facing the level of competition that Ohio State is right now in its fight to make the big dance.
“For at least a year, Buckeye fans will now be able to add ‘Michigan hasn’t had a first-round QB since Jim Harbaugh’ to their list of reasons to laugh at their rivals.”
The Big Ten might be the cradle of quarterbacks, but that credo does not extend to all teams in the conference-- Ohio State being one of them. While Ohio State fans celebrate the fact that J.T. Barrett made the practice squad in New Orleans, Purdue fans can simply point to the Saints’ starter. The lack of Ohio State-produced quarterback talent in the NFL is something of a head scratcher at first glance. After all, how can a perennial top-tier college football team which consistently produces top draft picks not produce a quarterback? It doesn’t take much digging to understand why: Ohio State has rarely been anchored in pro-style quarterbacks, as those at the helm have tended to favor the run, and many of the premiere quarterbacks in recent program history have been outstanding game managers before NFL-caliber passers.
Ohio State has not had a passer taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Art Schlichter was picked by the Baltimore Colts fourth-overall in 1982. Since then, only nine Buckeye quarterbacks have been drafted, period. That streak will change, barring unforeseen circumstances, in this year’s draft, when Dwayne Haskins is expected to be taken as one of the top quarterbacks (and players) overall. And with Ryan Day at the helm of Ohio State, perhaps a quarterback mindset will lead to more future draft picks at the position.
In the decades since Schlichter’s pick, 57 schools have had quarterbacks taken in the first round. Some are well-known, such as Stanford producing both John Elway and Andrew Luck. Others are known entities, but still surprising, like Purdue’s Jim Everett going in the first round but not Drew Brees. For Ohio State, this dearth is not an indictment on the program whatsoever. Want another program which hasn’t had a first-round quarterback taken over the same stretch? Try Alabama.