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A Way Too Early Look at 2019 in the State of Ohio
By Ben van Ooyen

Ohio State still has a long way to go before they wrap up their 2018 recruiting class, but it is never too early to take a glance into the future when it comes to recruiting. It has been widely talked about that during the tenure of Urban Meyer in Columbus, Ohio State has not pulled in as many kids from the home state as some would like. Meyer’s predecessor Jim Tressel was famous for saying that he was going to put up a wall around Ohio and keep the best talent inside the state. The recruiting method of Meyer seems to be the exact opposite right now, where he is going national first to find the best and circling back to Ohio.

This is a chart of Ohio commits under Tressel and Meyer since 2002.

You can see that Tressel routinely had over 10 kids from the state of Ohio every year, only missing out on that number twice -- and by only one. Meyer started out doing well with in-state numbers, although most of the Ohio commits in the 2012 class had committed to Tressel or Luke Fickell. We have really seen a downtick in the number since 2015. Last year he and his coaches said that they needed to grab more than the seven that they did, and as of right now it looks like the number for 2018 might be around the same mark.

Tressel was a very successful coach while at Ohio State winning with mostly Ohio kids, and I believe that if Urban wanted to he could follow the same model and be successful also. Instead, he has decided that taking a more national approach is necessary to compete with the Alabamas and Clemsons of the world. Many don’t like the approach that he is taking and feel that he is alienating the state of Ohio, but he has proven that his model works.

While it is still early and we haven’t seen what the 2018 class will end up looking like, it is safe to assume that they will not reach 10 Ohioans once again. Will that be possible with the class of 2019? That depends on the state. Let’s take a look at what Ohio has to offer in 2019.

Quite possibly the top 2019 athlete in the country resides just outside of Columbus. Zach Harrison (6-6 242) is an early 5-star defensive end out of Olentangy High School. He already lists 14 offers from some of the top programs in the nation, including Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan, and USC. The Buckeyes are the favored destination for Harrison, as he has been on campus quite a few times since his offer in January.

I think it is as close to a done deal that Harrison ends up playing his football in Columbus, and a decision might come quicker than most expect. Larry Johnson has done an amazing job at recruiting in his short tenure at Ohio State, and that looks to continue with the already hot start of 2018 and a potentially loaded 2019 class.

The No. 2 player from Ohio is another defensive player and that is 4-star linebacker Cade Stover (6-5 225) out of Mansfield. Stover had 11 offers before the Buckeyes came calling, and immediately following the offer from Ohio State the crystal ball projections started flowing in for Ohio State. While many thought that a commitment was coming, especially around the Spring Game, he has stated recently that he is not close to making a decision and will wait until his basketball season is over to get back into recruiting. He also stated that he would likely commit before his senior season.

By now we have all read the “Ohio State can’t land an elite defensive tackle” threads all over the message boards, and that narrative looks to be changing this year with Taron Vincent on board. The Buckeyes are in on quite a few other top talents, and in the class of 2019 one of them happens to be right in their own backyard in 4-star Jowon Briggs (6-2 275) out of Cincinnati. Briggs has put together an impressive offer list so far with Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin to name a few. Like the other Ohio stars listed above, Briggs is 100% crystal ball projected to the Buckeyes at this early stage. He has been on visits to Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Michigan and doesn’t look to be making a decision any time soon.

Those are currently the only three prospects from the class of 2019 with Buckeye offers. Certainly more will be coming as film is evaluated and camps are attended. Some other names to keep an eye out are defensive lineman Steven Faucheux (6-5 272) out of Lakota West, defensive back Moses Douglass (6-2 186) out of Springfield, offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby (6-5 240) of Mentor, and athlete Andre Gordon (6-1 175) out of Sidney.

Faucheux is one to really pay attention to as he has 12 offers to date from Alabama, Florida, Penn State and Tennessee. I expect the Buckeyes to offer soon, and believe they will jump to the top of his list once that offer is received. He is ranked early as a 4-star defensive end, and is the No. 8 strongside defensive end in the class of 2019.

Moses Douglass is another one to watch closely, as he and his 2018 class teammate Leonard Taylor have been frequent visitors to Columbus over the past year. Douglass is rated as a 4-star cornerback and is the No. 17 overall cornerback in the early rankings. I don’t see Leonard Taylor ending up at Ohio State, and the same could be said for Douglass, who might want to remain teammates with Taylor at the next level.

We have only scratched the surface with recruiting for the class of 2019, and it will certainly pick up over the coming months. As more and more camps and junior seasons are completed, we will know more about these kids, and their rankings will change again and again. Ohio State and their coaches will do their due diligence on not only these Ohio kids, but kids from all over the nation.

Will 2019 produce double-digit Ohio prospects in the Ohio State recruiting class? Right now, I would say the likelihood of that happening is slim, but many things will change between now and February of 2019 (or December of 2018).

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