The Ohio State football team is headed into what you might call a “Go get it, Tiger” weekend for recruiting.
Back in December Urban Meyer laid out the challenge ahead for Ryan Day with that phrase: “The expectation… here at Ohio State is win every game — you forgot a couple things; win every game, graduate. With Gene Smith, have them over a 3.0. Every player stay out of trouble and every player be a high draft pick. And as I usually follow up with it, ‘Go get it, tiger.’”
This weekend is an absolutely massive one as Day and his new staff try to fix a dangerously thin offensive line situation. Right now, the Buckeyes have only 11 scholarship linemen for 2019. That’s far less than normal and a major concern for Day’s first season.
The next three days could determine whether they spend that initial year with 11, 12, 13, or even 14 scholarship linemen on the team.
The first piece of the puzzle is four-star guard prospect Enokk Vimahi from Hawaii. Vimahi is rated as the 7th-best guard and No. 124 player overall in the 2019 class.
He has widely been considered a USC lean for most of the recruiting cycle, but a recent trip to Oklahoma has made the Sooners a serious threat as well.
The Buckeyes only offered him a scholarship on January 4, so the staff has a lot of relationship-building to do quickly.
All Day has to do now is convince him to attend a school 4,500 miles from home. Oh, and it’s not going to get above freezing this weekend. Did we mention he’s from Hawaii?
— Enokk "Inoke" Vimahi (@enokkvimahi) January 23, 2019
The second piece of the puzzle is Doug Nester, who was the first player to commit to the Buckeyes’ 2019 class, but remains the only one who has not yet signed.
Nester is a 4-star prospect ranked as the 6th-best guard and No. 106 player overall for 2019.
He originally planned to sign with the Buckeyes in December and enroll early. But when Urban Meyer announced his retirement, Nester pushed that decision back to February.
He made an official visit to Columbus last weekend. Now he’ll head to State College, Pa to spend an official visit weekend at Penn State.
Nester’s Crystal Ball still reads 100% to Ohio State, but it’s probably fair to be a little concerned about a potential flip.
The Buckeyes’ hope was that a month of relationship-building with Day and the rest of the 2019 class, the return of offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, and another visit to Columbus might be enough to lock him in. But he’s headed to Penn State this weekend, and has a trip to Virginia Tech scheduled for next weekend.
And Nester isn’t the only Buckeye target spending this weekend with James Franklin. Dawand Jones, a 3-star prospect who visited the Buckeyes last weekend is also headed to PSU.
Unlike the other two, Jones projects as a tackle at the college level, which makes him an important target. He’s considered the No. 85 tackle prospect in the class, but has offers from schools that are in line with a much higher-ranked prospect. He’ll choose his destination from between options like the Buckeyes, Nittany Lions, USC, Auburn, and Florida.
Much like Nester, Jones’ Crystal Ball should be encouraging to OSU fans. Every current prediction has him projected to be a Buckeye. Like Nester, he visited Columbus last weekend but is making another trip this week.
And while there are… justified… concerns about Franklin’s in-game tactics and program management, he is also one of the best recruiters in the business.
— Dawand Jones (@dawand_jones) January 24, 2019
Signing Day is now less than two weeks away: Wednesday, February 6, 2019. All three of the Buckeyes’ targets will announce their decisions on that day, but word will probably start leaking out sometime in the coming week about which way the wind is blowing.
If they land two or even three of them, it could turn a potential disaster into a slight concern. If they land one, it would at least be a first step toward solving the issue with a strong and deep 2020 class.
If they swing and miss on all three, the first year of Day’s tenure will start with a major question mark for one of the most crucial units on the field.
All he has to do is convince one player to travel 4,500 miles from home, and hold off one of the top recruiters in the nation for two other players without the benefit of another campus visit.
So it’s fair if Buckeye fans as thinking it right now: Go get it, Tiger.