Last year at this time, there was a handful of names constantly being bantered about as possible options to be the man at quarterback in what was presumed to be a 18-20 person 2014 Buckeye recruiting class. Names that had become familiar to fans of recruiting like: Kyle Allen, Drew Barker, Caleb Henderson, Deshone Kizer, Deshaun Watson and more penetrated your daily consciousness and each of them seemed at once a dream and a realistic option to pick the Buckeyes.
Most surmised that the eventual commitment would come from the group of Allen, Barker, Henderson and Kizer; but those four names — each of whom was worthy of a Buckeye offer (in this humble scribe's unsolicited opinion) – went through last summer, last fall and last winter sans a single scholarship offer being extended until Arizona's Kyle Allen received one in early May.
With Allen's offer, it seemed like the Buckeyes had settled on their 2014 QB and were ready to move ahead of their chase for Clemson commit Deshaun Watson. The Buckeyes upped the ante that day by also extending a scholarship offer to Louisiana star Brandon Harris as well as Orlando (Fla.) dynamo Zack Darlington. Now we knew for sure who the Buckeye quarterback would be, right? It had to be one of those three guys, right?
Wrong. Allen chose Texas A&M a month later, Darlington chose Nebraska and Harris decided to stay home in the Bayou and play for LSU. Surely the Buckeyes would move on to Kizer, the 6-foot-5 Toledo native who dazzled at the Columbus Elite 11 en route to winning the MVP award at he camp, but he too decided elsewhere – with knowledge that Ohio State was on the verge of an offer — and pledged to Notre Dame.
In the midst of all the scrambling and searching for a quarterback from a list of fan-recognizable names, Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman and Urban Meyer's search took them all over the US and landed in a little part of Georgia where relative unknown Stephen Collier impressed them with his game, his brain and his character. Collier stayed under-the-radar and kept working hard to prove to the Buckeye staff he was the right choice for them and he committed instantly upon receiving a scholarship offer in June.
What did the Buckeyes learn from the circuitous route to their quarterback in 2014? It appears they've made the choice to not put all their eggs in one basket, at least it appears that way after numerous offers have been extended to quarterbacks and very talented athletes who could play quarterback in recent weeks. Today we'll look at who has a Buckeye offer and where they fit into the Buckeyes' plans. More importantly, we'll take a stab at who wants to make the Buckeyes a part their plans and join Eric Glover-Williams on the 2015 commitment list.
We'll start the look at the signal callers of 2015 back in Kennesaw, Georgia where Harrison High School's Lorenzo Nunez makes his home.
Nunez camped at Ohio State in June and was so impressive to the Buckeye staff that they offered him on the spot. He's 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and can beat you with his arm and his legs, showing excellent accuracy from the pocket or on the move. He's reportedly run 4.55-fortys and that speed combined with above average arm strength, pocket presence and accuracy makes him a unique quarterback threat in the 2015 class and has him firmly sitting on the top of Ohio State's wish list. That's good news for Buckeyes fan because Nunez has returned that favor and has made no bones about the Buckeyes being at the top of his list, even though other teams are scrambling to get involved. He visited Clemson — who's offered — for their huge season-opening win against Georgia.
"I talk to coach (Tom) Herman and coach (Urban) Meyer almost once every week," Nunez told Eleven Warriors after his big trip to Clemson. "The Buckeyes are still on top but there's a lot of time. We'll see what happens."
Nunez has plans to return to Ohio State this fall for a game, he's hoping to make it up for the September 28th showdown against Wisconsin. One more note on Nunez, he and his family are pretty close with a name now familiar to Buckeye fans: the Colliers.
Nunez is joined at the "top" of the Buckeye QB situation by St. Peter's Prep (New Jersey City, N.J.) Brandon Wimbush. A high school teammate of fellow Buckeye offer for 2015 Minkah Fitzpatrick, Wimbush is a another prospect who currently lists the Buckeyes in his top group after getting an offer last month. A solidly-built 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Wimbush took his turn in front of the Ohio State coaches at "Friday Night Lights" in late July and proved himself a solild and consistent passer with excellent footwork and a compact and efficient throwing motion. He's another guy that hopes to get to Ohio State for a game soon, and it could be the Penn State game in late October. His mother is a Penn State alumna and that game seems to work the best with his schedule.
JAUAN JENNINGS, KAI LOCKSLEY AND TORRANCE GIBSON
After Nunez and Wimbush is where things get very interesting. There are three other current players — "dual-threat" quarterbacks in the style that Ohio State wants — who are starting quarterbacks for their high schools with Buckeye offers who, were they to commit to Ohio State, could end up playing under-center for the Buckeyes; but at this time are being recruited more as the safely-labeled "athlete."
Blackman High School (Murfreesboro, TN) quarterback Jauan Jennings is built very similarly to Nunez at 6-foot-4 and 185-pounds and has an impressive mix of skills that could lead to a future at quarterback, wide receiver or safety. According to his coach Daniel Childs, Jennings is the type of person you want on your team no matter what position he plays, but he believes Jennings is best suited for quarterback at Ohio State.
"I know that (Jauan) was very excited about the Buckeye offer," Childs told Eleven Warriors after the news broke. "He's a special athlete and kid and I think he really fits the offense at Ohio State well, plus he loves playing quarterback."
The most recent Buckeye "quarterback" offer was to Gilman High School (Baltimore, Md.) Kai Locksley, the son of Maryland offensive coordinator and recruiting dynamo Mike Locksley. Locklsey picked up a Buckeye offer last Thursday night. Like Nunez and Jennings, Locksley is a lean athlete that can line up in different spots and has been a difference maker at wide receiver and defensive back at Gilman as well as taking snap at quarterback. This fall he's lining up as a quarterback exclusively after focusing on the position during the offseason in lieu of camp and combine appearances. Despite his father's role at Maryland, Locksley says he's definitely open to a number of different schools and the offer from Ohio State was a big one.
"It's always been a dream playing for my pops, because growing up I never could, but I also understand how hard it is playing for your father at that level," Locksley said. "It's especially difficult when playing the most scrutinized position in sports. (Ohio State) is a big time offer but I'm not looking to commit anywhere this early, I want to see what schools have to offer."
Of particular intrigue here is that in the event of Tom Herman becoming a head coach elsewhere next year, Mike Locksley could very well be on the short list of coaches considered to replace him at Ohio State. That would certainly bring with it and increased likelihood of Kai coming to Ohio State, even if it's a bit of a long shot to come to fruition.
The first Buckeye "quarterback" offer for 2015 was extended to American Heritage (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) junior Torrance Gibson. One of the nation's most spectacular athletes, people who've seen him up-close-and-personal regularly insist that Gibson — were he so inclined — could be the best wide receiver in the country in 2015 and maybe the best in the class of 2014, too. The problem with that is Gibson wants to be a quarterback and won't even discuss the chances of not playing the position in college seriously.
With elite speed and great hands, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gibson is a physical runner with the ball and displays an impressive football acumen at whatever position he's played. At quarterback he throws a nice ball with good zip and better than average touch. Simply put, this is a kid who's too good to pass up if you can get him. He's been clear about his feelings about Ohio State in a number of conversations.
"I've wanted to hear more from Ohio State," Gibson told Eleven Warriors. "I want to develop a relationship with their staff and get to know them better so they can know me better. They were one of the first schools to get in touch with me on September 1st and we're talking a bit more recently. I'm definitely going to visit up there because I want them to know I am serious about my interest in the Buckeyes."