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Friday Night Lights 2018: What you need to know about Ohio State’s big recruiting weekend

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Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni has a long list of talented players in Columbus this weekend. (Photo: Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Friday Night Lights 2018: What you need to know about Ohio State’s big recruiting weekend

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Ohio State is preparing for one of its biggest recruiting weekends of the year as Friday Night Lights – the Buckeyes premier recruiting camp of the year – and a host of very important official visits collide in Columbus.

What do you need to know about the annual recruiting bonanza now known as Friday Night Lights?

First off, it’s closed to the public

If you’re in Columbus and were planning to make the trip to Ohio State for Friday Night Lights, don’t.

Due to the threat of inclement weather, some of it potentially severe, Ohio State was forced to move the event to the indoor facilities at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and because of space concerns, it’s no longer open to the public.

Or the media.

That means we’re all sitting idly by waiting for word on what is happening, and that there will be no photos or videos from the event coming this weekend.

Sorry about that, sincerely. I’m personally very bummed out by the whole thing.

The official visitors aren’t working out

If you could see tonight’s camp, you’d wonder where players like St. Louis wideouts Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams were, because they would not be working out at the camp.

In fact, none of the official visitors to Ohio State this weekend – of which there are at least six we know about and there always a big name surprise out there that isn’t public – are allowed to work out during their official visit.

There will no doubt be some intense competition happening, but many of the big name guys in town are just going to be standing by and observing.

Commitments are coming

I don’t know when, and I don’t know how many, but it’d be very surprising if the Buckeyes didn’t leave this weekend with at least a couple new verbal commitments, and I could see both the 2019 and 2020 classes picking up new members.

In the 2019 group, I think the Buckeyes will add a commitment from 4-star wide receiver Marcus Washington and 4-star defensive back Jordan Battle at least this weekend, and I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if Jameson Williams, another St. Louis  wide receiver, also pulled the trigger during his official visit. Beyond that, 3-star tight end Brenton Strange is coming back to Columbus for the third time in three weeks on Saturday and I believe Ohio State is well in front with his recruitment at present, and that could happen this weekend, too, even though he says no decision is likely until August.

As for the Class of 2020? The potential for a commitment from Scottsdale (Ariz.) quarterback Jack Miller has been discussed a number of times, and I think if he’s given the green light to do that, it will happen before he leaves campus. If that does occur, he’ll cancel his planned visit to Tuscaloosa, where he’s expected to see Alabama, on Saturday.

I also think there’s a better than average chance that Derek Wingo, a teammate of Jordan Battle’s at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, could commit to his “dream school” this weekend. He’s been in town since Wednesday night and leaves Sunday morning: you don’t take that kind of trip unless you’re very serious about a school.

Quarterback questions should get answered this weekend

Ohio State is hosting Brian Maurer, a 3-star quarterback from Ocala (Fla.) West Port right now and he’s no doubt getting a very thorough once-over by Ryan Day, Urban Meyer and the rest of the Buckeyes staff.

Maurer was at Tennessee earlier this week and was offered by the Vols, but he’s stated publicly that an Ohio State offer would catapult the Buckeyes into his top group of schools. Ohio State has struggled to find its quarterback in this class and this visit – and camp – is a potential turning point in that endeavor.

If the Buckeyes do not move on Maurer this weekend – and by that I mean offer and make him their priority moving forward – you have to assume its because they have another player in their sights that they feel better about than anyone else is aware of. They are not going to skip a quarterback in the class and Maurer is a really talented kid. He will not leave Columbus without an offer unless there’s another talented kid Ohio State feels confident about.

(In my opinion.)

Crunch time for Zach Harrison

Ohio State will bring in 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison for his official visit on Saturday and Sunday, just hours after he completes an official visit to Michigan.

For the Buckeyes, this weekend is a major opportunity to reinforce with Harrison and his family how Ohio State will prepare him for life beyond football, something that Michigan – and it’s academic reputation – no doubt hammered in with him while in Ann Arbor.

The Buckeyes know that Harrison is not your average Columbus-area recruit and they know that he’s not going to be dazzled by bright lights and glitter. Urban Meyer and Larry Johnson will focus on the relationships they’ve created with him in the last two years and Johnson’s reputation as a person developer and a lineman developer, with the hopes of locking up his recruitment.

There’s not a real good chance for a commitment this weekend, but with a decision from Harrison expected in early August, this weekend is going to go a long way toward cementing a decision.

Need more Ohio State recruiting? Check out the Lettermen Row forums and let us know what’s on your mind. Don’t forget to sign up for the tri-weekly recruiting newsletter, just in case there’s anything you’ve missed during the week.

Birm

Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.