Ohio State continued their hot streak on the recruiting trail this past weekend landing Prentiss “Air” Noland the out of Langston Hughes (GA) High School. The four-star quarterback is ranked 84th in the 247Sports Composite, and owns a host of Georgia high school accolades to go with the ranking.
After setting a top-7 and commitment date, Noland was without an offer from the Buckeyes, but had a visit scheduled. The Buckeyes were long in on Noland, but needed to do the business aspect with a visit to campus to throw. The visit occurred, the recruitment date stayed solid, and despite message board chatter the long assumed 2024 quarterback for the Buckeyes gave his verbal commitment.
Looking at Noland’s junior season highlight tape, there are plays that pop off the screen and fit into the archetype that Ryan Day recruits at the quarterback position. His size and arm traits are exactly what shows up on the film of every quarterback Day has recruited at Ohio State, and with the verbal commitment in place, it is time to breakdown Noland’s game.
Noland was the 6-A Player of the Year in the state of Georgia, and the reasons are obvious immediately.
QB Commitment Heights and Weights
|Air Noland||6'3"||195 LB|
|Lincoln Kienholz||6'1.5"||181 LB|
|Devin Brown||6'2.5"||196 LB|
|Quinn Ewers||6'3"||206 LB|
|Kyle McCord||6'3"||215 LB|
|C.J. Stroud||6'2.5"||194 LB|
|Jack Miller||6'4"||210 LB|
Looking at the quarterbacks who have stepped foot into Ohio State’s program after their recruitments, the list shows that Day has a specific physical profile his quarterbacks must meet in order to be viable options. This profile has shortened the list some years, and is a reason the Buckeyes have not offered higher ranked quarterbacks at times.
Quarterbacks can be bigger than this in high school, but ideally the Buckeyes want a quarterback who is 6-foot-2 plus and has a frame that can get to 215 pounds. Noland fits into the group, and is the only left-handed quarterback recruited by Ohio State in the modern recruiting era. This should not be a problem as the film shows, but it will add an interesting dynamic due to the rareness of left-handed quarterbacks.
Diving into the first clip from Noland’s junior season, the Georgia product shows off his touch and arm strength on a throw outside the numbers. The defense is in a Cover-2 look, and the receiver is running a vertical route. Once the receiver clears the cornerback in the flat, Noland sees the safety has stayed on the hash without shading towards the outside receiver.
This allows Noland to put enough air under the ball to get it beyond the safety, who took a bad angle for a huge completion.
This throw is made in part due to poor safety play, but this is an example of his ability to change the velocity as well put touch on his throws. When it comes to playing quarterback at Ohio State, being able to throw the ball in a variety of ways is a prerequisite under Day.
Continuing on with the layering of throws, one of the toughest throws to make in football is a well placed throw up the seam. Using head movement to manipulate the safety and having the ability to throw the ball accurately over the middle is not easy to do consistently.
In the play below, we see Noland’s receiver attacking the seam from an outside receiver position. The defense is playing man coverage with a one high safety. Noland uses his eyes to hold the safety in the middle of the field, and this gives the receiver the space up the seam to catch the football over his outside shoulder.
The eyes keep the safety out of the play, and the switch vertical concept gives the receiver one-on-one coverage up the field. For Noland, the throw goes exactly where it needs to go with the man coverage and safety in the middle. This touch and timing shows that the ability is there from an arm-talent stand point.
The separating factor on the play from Noland versus other quarterbacks his age is the commitment to using his eyes as a weapon to manipulate the safety.
Noland eyes against man coverage
The eyes for a high school quarterback are not always the most important part of the position, especially when the talent is there at Power-5 caliber level. That is why this is an incredibly exciting trait the Buckeye verbal has shown a willingness to commit to in his game.
This next play, Noland shows incredibly high quarterback IQ when it comes to safety manipulation and timing.
Noland and Langston Hughes’ offense line up in trips to the left. The middle receiver motions across the formation. The nickel corner follows signaling man coverage which also means one-on-one coverage on the outside, and the defense makes a check leading to confusion in the middle of the defense. At the snap Noland gives a hard look to the right. This makes the safety in the middle bite down to the right side of the field giving a ton of space to the left for the outside receiver to win inside on his route.
Noland delivers a strike, and throws another touchdown.
Noland is a solid athlete. He’s not Justin Fields, but he definitely has the level of athleticism of the past recruits in Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. In the state playoffs, Noland and the offense were driving down the field getting into the red zone. They run a hard play-action pass, and the defense gets almost immediate pressure on the quarterback.
Noland ducks the pressure, evades the remaining rush, and scrambles for a big first down. The athleticism shown here gives confidence that he can deliver on the run and make the plays outside the pocket that is expected from Ohio State signal-callers.
The Buckeyes were thrown into a loop after Lincoln Kienholz committed in the 2023 class, and days later the 2024 commit Dylan Raiola de-committed from the Buckeyes. This threw Ohio State into a place the Buckeyes have weirdly began comfortable with. There has not been a normal quarterback recruitment since the Buckeyes landed McCord, so landing a commitment in April for a player whose dream school is Ohio State is a pretty big deal for the Buckeyes.
Noland fits the physical profile for the position at Ohio State, and has all the physical tools to fit into Ryan Day’s offense. When asked about why the Buckeyes, he mentioned the recent history of developing quarterbacks into first round picks. Seeing himself in those players adds an even more moving dynamic to this decision for the lefty. Noland wants to continue the lineage and has no fear running into a room full of talented players, and no guarantees. That is the defining trait of what Day and the offensive staff look for in their quarterback.
Noland as a recruit embodies the ideal Ohio State quarterback, and as he continues to have success at the highest level of Georgia high school football, he can become a cornerstone in the 2024 recruiting class. The Buckeyes have started to get hot on the trail ahead of the conclusion to spring practice. The class is already solid, and now that the quarterback is committed, Ohio State can turn their focus to finishing this class strong on both sides of the football.