Top QB still looking at Buckeyes

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Last updated: 04/10/2013 1:51 AM
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Football Recruiting
Nation's Top Quarterback Still Looking at Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman

If things go as planned for the Buckeyes next season, they will have Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones and J.T Barrett all returning at quarterback in 2014. That is a level of comfort that can allow Urban Meyer to stay vigilant in his pursuit of the one quarterback recruit that he wants above all else in the 2014 class.

That one quarterback recruit is Deshaun Watson (6-3 186), out of Gainesville, Georgia. He is currently the only 2014 quarterback that the Buckeyes have offered, and it will probably stay that way a little while longer.

Watson, who is the #1-ranked quarterback in the nation according to Rivals, has been committed to Clemson since February of 2012. Last season he threw for 4,024 yards with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He also rushed for 1,441 yards and 24 touchdowns. He is the state of Georgia's all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns.

With numbers like that, it's easy to see why Meyer has been trying to get him on campus for an unofficial visit for a while now. The good news for the Buckeyes is that it looks like that visit will finally be happening this summer.

"I'm still committed to Clemson, but I’m still looking around at Ohio State and UGA right now. It's between those three," Watson told Rivals over the weekend.

"I've always been interested in Urban Meyer and what he does on offense. I haven't visited the campus yet, but I'm going to go up there this summer and see what's it like."

As with 99.9% of out-of-state recruiting, getting a recruit on campus is the first major step. Once that happens, the game is officially afoot.

Helping Ohio State's cause in this recruitment could be Watson's relationship to a handful of other top Georgia prospects who are high on the Buckeyes.

Among them are linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, GA) and receiver Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, GA), who have both come out recently and declared Ohio State as their leader. Kitt and Watson have talked about playing in college together, so if the Buckeyes can get Kitt locked up, he may become their best recruiter.

The fact that Watson has Ohio State in his top three without even visiting is certainly a plus for the Buckeyes. He has visited Clemson numerous times, as well as his home state Georgia. A visit to Columbus would only seem to enhance Ohio State's chances in this race.

An interesting note about Watson's recruitment is that Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney reportedly has a "no visit" policy for his verbal commitments, which means that he doesn't want players who are committed to Clemson visiting any other schools.

Last year, Clemson had verbal commitments visit other schools, so Swinney simply dropped them and stopped recruiting them. That policy is easy to enforce when it comes to a three-star linebacker, but don't expect Swinney to swing the same hammer when it comes to Watson this summer.

Also complicating matters for Clemson is the possibility that this could be offensive coordinator Chad Morris's last season with the Tigers, as many expect him to land a head coaching job soon. Watson has said in the past that Morris leaving won't affect his decision, but high school kids have been known to change their minds in the past.

While Ohio State has only offered one quarterback, they are trying to keep from putting all of their eggs in one basket. They are still keeping in contact with several other quarterbacks, if and when the time comes to move on from Watson.

A name that popped up recently is Brandon Harris (6-2 180), out of Bossier City, Louisiana. Harris had a tremendous showing over the weekend at an Elite 11 camp in Dallas. Per ESPN, Trent Dilfer, who worked at the camp, said that Harris has the strongest arm in the nation.

Quarterback "guru" George Whitfield has also worked with Harris, calling him one of the "future QB monsters" in college football. Numerous reports have the Ohio State coaches telling Harris that they'll need to see him throw in person before they can extend an offer.

Ohio State is still keeping an eye on Drew Barker (6-4 205) out of Kentucky, as well as Caleb Henderson (6-3 225) from Virginia. Scout ranks Barker as their #3 quarterback overall. Henderson is their #7 QB. Barker and Henderson both performed at last summer's Friday Night Lights, and the coaches have seen all they need to see from them.

At the moment, Meyer is choosing not to extend any other offers in the off chance that a quarterback might commit and hinder their chances of landing Watson. For now they are sticking with Watson, and that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.

Even if they miss on him, and their remaining targets commit to other schools before they receive Ohio State offers, Urban Meyer and Tom Herman likely feel that they will be able to flip somebody when the time comes. Especially once those quarterbacks see the offense that the Buckeyes plan to showcase this season.

After all, there's a reason that Meyer was able to land Tim Tebow and Cameron Newton in consecutive recruiting classes while at Florida.

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