COLUMBUS — The 2022 recruiting cycle is going to be a bit different for Ohio State at the quarterback position than the last few years have been.
Looking back at the last five recruiting cycles, there’s been a quarterback identified and committed very early for the Buckeyes, even if those players ended up in another class.
That can’t be the case in the 2022 cycle. And that’s going to put the spotlight squarely on first-year position coach Corey Dennis, who has had very little opportunity to recruit that class in person — and because of NCAA contact regulations, can’t truly begin to grow relationships with the top players in that class until Sept. 1. The hiring of Urban Meyer’s son-in-law drew initial skepticism from some, but after five years working on the Buckeyes staff, Day believed he was ready for the job.
“Coach Day wouldn’t have hired me if he didn’t think that I was ready,” Dennis said on during a February press conference. “I think I’m ready. Coach Day thinks I’m ready. I have a lot of coaches here, [Buckeyes offensive coordinator Kevin] Wilson, the guys believe in me. I’ve had players believe in me, and I think I’m ready to go.”
A month later, the Covid-19 pandemic shut down all opportunities for in-person recruiting. That restriction will continue through at least July 31.
So, it’s been Ready, Set … Stop for Dennis as a full-time recruiter to this point. That doesn’t mean there’s no hierarchy being formed among 2022 prospects, of course, but it does mean that the chance to move those top options closer to a decision is limited.
Who are those top options? Let’s take a look. It’s not surprising that it includes a trio of the country’s top-ranked quarterback prospects according to 247Sports.com.
Quinn Ewers • Texas • National Rank: 1
Ohio State has offered only four 2022 quarterbacks. Quinn Ewers is one of just two that the Buckeyes have had a chance to see throw the football on campus. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Southlake (Texas) Carroll standout visited Columbus for a one-day recruiting camp in the summer of 2018 prior to his freshman year of high school, and Ohio State offered based on the strength of his showing that day.
The Buckeyes visited Ewers in Texas a few times prior to the start of the recruiting dead period, and they have done a good job showing their interest. But Oklahoma is considered the early favorite with Alabama, Auburn, Texas and most of the country’s biggest programs also giving chase.
Gunner Stockton • Georgia • National Rank: 2
The recruitment of Gunner Stockton is one that could be considerably different if the Buckeyes had a chance to actually meet with him and his family. But for now, it’s a relationship being built slowly by Corey Dennis and Ryan Day in limited conversation opportunities. What’s not been built slowly is in the interest Ohio State has in the 6-foot-1, 195-pound, potential 5-star prospect from Rabun County (Tiger, Ga.) High School.
If there’s a recent player comparison for Stockton, it’s probably Auburn sophomore Bo Nix, who was the top target for Ohio State in the Class of 2019. The Buckeyes will need to get Stockton and his family on campus as soon as possible if there’s any chance to draw this big-time quarterback from the likes of Georgia, Clemson, Alabama and others.
Maalik Murphy • California • National Rank: 4
At 6-foot-4 and 205-pounds, Maalik Murphy is the new prototype at the quarterback position. He’s big, smooth throwing the football and athletic enough to make defenses pay close attention to his abilities outside of the pocket. Murphy was offered by Ohio State is January of 2019 and has been a primary target since, and there’s no reason to suspect that will change anytime soon.
Like Stockton, Ohio State has not had a chance to host Murphy. But unlike the Georgia prospect, the delay in getting that opportunity probably isn’t as big a deal. Sources close to Murphy have indicated to Lettermen Row that he has the Buckeyes “high on his list,” and there’s no sense that the young quarterback is making a decision anytime in the near future.
Local names Ohio State is recruiting
Those three names listed above are the biggest names being recruited by the Buckeyes in their search for a 2022 quarterback, but they’re not alone. Ohio State has continued to have conversations with young prospects like Chase Harrison from Ohio, Brady Allen from Indiana and others. A number of 2022 quarterbacks, including California’s Justyn Martin, have expressed interest in the program to Lettermen Row and have voiced their concern that the loss of this summer’s recruiting visits and evaluations will hamper their opportunities in a major way.
There will be plenty of new names that make their way onto the recruiting board for Ohio State at the quarterback position for 2022. What’s unlikely to happen, at least anytime soon, is for the Buckeyes to lock in a commitment at the position while in-person recruiting remains impermissible.