Football’s early signing period is now one day away, and Ohio State is set to officially welcome in a slew of new Buckeyes to the program.
How many? That’s still up in the air, but the current Ohio State class comprised of 16 talented young prospects from all over the country is the Big Ten’s second-ranked group behind Michigan — with its 25 commitments. In terms of talent per player, Ohio State has done very well for itself in a recruiting cycle that most other programs wouldn’t have been able to survive.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been headaches for new coach Ryan Day and Ohio State since Urban Meyer’s impromptu retirement announcement on Dec. 4. The Buckeyes have been fighting tooth-and-nail to keep all of their 2019 commitments in the fold, and that battle will continue past signing day as Day sorts out his coaching staff following the Rose Bowl.
So what are the biggest questions heading into the early signing period? Lettermen Row is going to get those sorted out for you.
Which Ohio State commitments are signing this week?
Ohio State has 16 current commitments, and of that group, 14 are expected to sign their Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
Here’s the breakdown of the verbal pledges and their signing plans, as well as their enrollment plans.
|NAME||SIGNING IN DECEMBER?||ENROLLING IN JANUARY?|
|QB DWAN MATHIS||YES||YES|
|RB STEELE CHAMBERS||NO*||NO|
|RB MARCUS CROWLEY||YES||YES|
|WR GARRETT WILSON||YES||YES|
|WR JAMESON WILLIAMS||YES||NO|
|TE CORMONTAE HAMILTON||YES||NO|
|OL DOUG NESTER||NO||NO|
|OL RYAN JACOBY||YES||YES|
|OL HARRY MILLER||YES||NO|
|DE NOAH POTTER||YES||YES|
|LB CADE STOVER||YES||NO|
|LB TOMMY EICHENBERG||YES||NO|
|DB JORDAN BATTLE||YES*||NO|
|DB BRYSON SHAW||YES||NO|
|DB RONNIE HICKMAN||YES||YES|
|ATH CRAIG YOUNG||YES||NO|
There’s one catch here: 4-star defensive back Jordan Battle is almost assuredly not going to sign with Ohio State. More on that in the next section.
What is the deal with Doug Nester, Jordan Battle and Steele Chambers?
OK, so if you’re reading that chart above you’re beginning to panic a bit.
“So…um….why aren’t Doug Nester and Steele Chambers signing? And what did you say about Jordan Battle?!?”
It’s true, Jordan Battle, who committed to Ohio State in June, is likely to sign with Alabama on Wednesday. He and his family were very spooked when Meyer’s suspension happened and began seriously reconsidering their college choice when rumors of his retirement began to kick into full gear. Day visited Battle last week and was told Ohio State was not going to be the choice, but the program hasn’t given up yet. The St. Thomas Aquinas star has been their top target in the defensive backfield for the entire recruiting cycle, and Day is trying to pull off a miracle by retaining him somehow.
Doug Nester has no idea who his position coach will be. That, combined with the loss of Meyer — the coach he committed to in August of 2017 — has been a lot for the West Virginia 4-star offensive lineman to deal with. He actually began looking at other schools earlier in the season, making visits to Penn State and Virginia Tech. Those two, along with Georgia, are likely to receive official visits from the country’s fifth-ranked guard. Ohio State is certainly not out of this race, but Nester was expected to enroll in January and will now sign in February with whatever school he ultimately chooses.
Steele Chambers, the 4-star athlete from Roswell, Ga. who plays running back and linebacker for Blessed Trinity High School, is firmly committed to Ohio State but has planned to sign in February with his high school teammates. There is a chance he actually doessign with Ohio State this week and then just participates in his team event in February, but either way, he’s locked in with the Buckeyes.
Who are the biggest stars in the Ohio State class?
If you really stop and consider how much negative press Ohio State had to deal with over the last few months, it’s actually quite remarkable that the Buckeyes are still on pace to sign seven of the country’s top-150 players according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings.
The headliners are the two 5-star prospects: Garrett Wilson and Harry Miller. But that pair isn’t alone when it comes to having high expectations for their college careers. Here are how the current Buckeyes commits in the Top 150 stack up.
- No. 16 • WR • Garrett Wilson • Austin • Texas • Lake Travis High School
- No. 31 • OL • Harry Miller • Buford • Georgia • Buford High School
- No. 77 • DB • Jordan Battle • Ft. Lauderdale • Florida • St. Thomas Aquinas
- No. 92 • OL • Doug Nester • Huntington • West Virginia • Spring Valley High School
- N0. 106 • LB • Cade Stover • Lexington • Ohio • Lexington High School
- No. 112 • DB • Ronnie Hickman • Wayne • New Jersey • Depaul Catholic High School
- No. 140 • WR • Jameson Williams • St. Louis • Missouri • Cardinal Ritter College Prep
After signing the country’s second-ranked class in each of the last two recruiting cycles, there’s a lot of talent on deck for Day and Ohio State.
Which Ohio State signees aren’t getting enough attention?
Despite being a smaller than usual class, the Buckeyes are restocking their coffers with some really talented depth. But there are a handful of young people set to sign with Ohio State that have flown a bit under-the-radar — at least compared to what it has been bringing into the program in recent years.
In my opinion, there are a few players who’ve been completely undervalued on the recruiting trail this year, including the most recent Ohio State verbal, Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-star linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound prospect is the country’s 20th-ranked inside linebacker. But I can’t help but wonder how much of that is a result of his decision to avoid the camp and combine circuit that so often pumps a player’s ranking full of shorts-and-shirts sugar that doesn’t translate onto the actual football field.
Beyond Eichenberg, the Buckeyes should also be thrilled about the development of Mentor defensive lineman Noah Potter, who has turned himself from a fringe prospect a year ago to a really big-time defensive end thanks to a ton of hard work and utilization of the lessons he’s learned from camp training with Larry Johnson over that time.
The aforementioned Steele Chambers is one of the country’s best two-way stars, and I think he’s got the potential to thrive at running back or linebacker for Ohio State. He’s a player that could be viewed as a real steal a few years from now. He reminds me very much of former Ohio State linebacker Jerome Baker.
What about Zach Harrison?
There are only a handful of players who aren’t committed to Ohio State today that could end up signing with the Buckeyes this week.
The biggest name that remains an unknown is, of course, 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison. Harrison is a 6-foot-5, 250-pound prospect with NFL first-round pick talent, and he’s deciding between Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. He’s been recruited hard by the Buckeyes for almost two years, but the Wolverines and Nittany Lions each have something working in their favor that the Buckeyes don’t: They’re away from home. Ohio State has Larry Johnson on its side, and if the Buckeyes are able to sign Harrison it’s likely due to Johnson’s reputation as a developer of men and defensive linemen.
Another potential addition for Ohio State is Wake Forest (N.C.) High School’s Jaden McKenzie, who has emerged as the frontrunner among a group of defensive tackles that includes Toledo Whitmer’s Cavon Butler, Maryland’s D’Von Ellies and New York’s Jared Harrison-Hunte. Those four linemen all took official visits to Ohio State when the Buckeyes played Michigan in November, but McKenzie has become the main target as signing day arrives. He’ll decide between Ohio State and North Carolina, and I think he will announce his plans to head to Columbus on Wednesday.
Ole Miss commit Nick Broeker will make his final decision on Thursday. He’s the lone non-Buckeyes commitment being recruited by Ohio State along the offensive line, but right now it seems he’s leaning toward signing with the Rebels. Recruiting almost always comes down to comfort and relationships. The Buckeyes hosted him for an official visit and he’ll have to choose between the lure of playing for a national power or the staff he’s closest with.
Finally, there remains no news about an offer to Pickerington North tight end Tyler Foster, but the 6-foot-6, 235-pound 3-star prospect remains on the cusp of landing with the Buckeyes. If there’s been an offer sent out privately, I expect he’ll sign with the Buckeyes and do so without much fanfare. If he’s not received an Ohio State offer, he’ll stick with his original plan of signing with the Ohio Bobcats.