With the Buckeyes and 4-star Texas quarterback Grant Gunnell going their separate ways this week, I thought today would be a good time to go over Ohio State’s options moving forward.
Early in the 2019 recruiting cycle — like a year ago — the Buckeyes were handing out offers to dual-threat quarterbacks, but that has changed over the months as the recent offers have generally gone to “pro-style” passers.
Ohio State has pretty well struck out to this point, as 17 of the top 20 pro-style quarterbacks are already committed to schools. The Buckeyes won’t let that stop them from recruiting those players, but it does make things a little more difficult.
Further hampering their efforts is the fact that the 2019 quarterback class is being hailed as the worst people have ever seen. Ohio State isn’t in a position to take a year off in their QB recruiting efforts, so they are likely to continue to swing for the fences.
They won’t be able to swing forever, though. And eventually they will have to decide whether to reach out and offer a quarterback more likely to commit.
Here is a glimpse of what things look like right now in terms of Ohio State’s 2019 quarterback targets.
1. Graham Mertz
Graham Mertz (Blue Valley North HS/Mission, KS) is arguably the most coveted quarterback in the nation right now. Ranked the No. 5 pocket passer in the nation, the 6-foot-3 205-pounder has been committed to Wisconsin since October. Since December, he has added offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Missouri, Georgia, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, LSU, Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and others. He is slated to take his official visit to Wisconsin this weekend. He plans on enrolling early and signing early. With Grant Gunnell now out of the picture, expect Urban Meyer and Ryan Day to go all in on Mertz to see if they can make him reconsider.
2. Ryan Hilinski
Ryan Hilinski (Orange Lutheran/Orange, CA) committed to South Carolina in April. Since that day he has added offers from LSU, UCLA, and Ohio State. He is the No. 6 pocket passer in the 2019 class. Hilinski (6-4 222) qualified for the Elite 11 finals next month, as did Graham Mertz and one other name below. Hilinski threw for 3,749 yards last year with 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Do the Buckeyes have a shot here? Since he is recruiting pretty diligently for South Carolina right now, you probably shouldn’t get your hopes up.
3. Dwan Mathis
Dwan Mathis (Oak Park/Belleville, MI) visited Ohio State last summer for Friday Night Lights. Two months later, he committed to Michigan State and has been committed to the Spartans ever since. Urban Meyer offered Mathis (6-4 197) in early May, but until a serious visit happens, the Buckeyes won’t have much of a chance. Rivals has Mathis as the No. 2 dual-threat QB in the nation, while the Composite ranks him as the No. 11 pro-style quarterback in the class. At The Opening Regional in Massillon last month, he ran a 4.67 40-yard dash. Mathis also holds offers from Oregon, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Kentucky, and Pitt.
4. Brian Maurer
Brian Maurer (West Port/Ocala, FL) does not yet have an offer, but Ohio State has been in contact. At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, he has a good frame, and his advancement to the Elite 11 finals in July is evidence of his throwing ability. West Virginia is the current favorite with all six Crystal Ball predictions, but he also holds offers from Texas A&M, UCF, Boston College, Indiana, and Pitt. He is looking to commit before his senior season. Maurer is likely to add more offers this summer with more performances like he had in camps over the last month.
5. Connor Bazalek
Connor Bazalek (Archbishop Alter/Dayton, OH) is the top 2019 quarterback in the state of Ohio. He is listed as having offers from Georgia, Pittsburgh, Iowa, Missouri, Purdue, North Carolina, and others. Last month, Bazalek measured in at Massillon at 6-foot-3 and 207 pounds. He ran a 4.97 40-yard dash. The 247Sports Composite has him as the No. 19 pro-style quarterback in the nation. Ohio State has not offered, but they have been in contact and are paying serious attention to him at the moment. Do the Buckeyes feel they can slow play him and go all-in on somebody like Graham Mertz or Dwan Mathis before coming around to Bazalek? Or, knowing that this isn’t the best quarterback class (as Urban Meyer told us a while back), do they lock up the best in state and then go after somebody once the December signing period has passed?
Bonus: Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson (Walled Lake Western/Walled Lake, MI) has been to Ohio State a number of times and was impressive at a June camp a few years ago. He has a strong arm and continues to grow into a long frame. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Johnson is committed to Boston College. There is no Ohio State offer at this point, but the two parties know each other.