Football Recruiting: McDowell, Jones or Bust

By Jeremy Birmingham on February 4, 2014 at 5:08p

Aside from another severe winter storm that's fixin' to blast Ohio, there's nothing that looms heavier over the landscape of Ohio State than national signing day. Tomorrow morning, fax machines all over the country will be used for the first time since last signing day and the hard work of (in some cases) two-plus years of recruiting efforts will pay off in spades for some while others remain brokenhearted and jealous, admiring the influx of talent to the tradition rich programs of college football.

Will Jones be a Buckeye? No one knows.Jones has everyone off-balance.

For the Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer, it appeared that this year's version of signing day would peaceful, but the last two weeks have thrown a sizeable wrench into that perceived serenity, and the Buckeyes will wait anxiously on two remaining targets; Jamarco Jones and Malik McDowell.

Jones, who committed to Ohio State in late June, is a four-star offensive tackle, ranked as the 4th-best tackle in the nation according to His recruitment had remained a relatively silent one until about two weeks ago when it was rumored that he'd take one final trip to Michigan State prior to signing day. The Spartans were a close runner-up to the Buckeyes when he committed in June, but by all appearances Ohio State remained in good shape with the Chicago native. This past weekend, he made the trip to East Lansing and since then has gone radio silent, leaving pontificators and analysts and coaches and players alike wondering what his next move will be. 

According to Jones' high school coach, Mike Boehm, Jones would be informing the coaches at each school of his final choice today (Tuesday) at some point, without any definitive time stated. Jones, who has never been much for the publicity that comes with recruiting, has not said if his choice would be announced via Twitter or any other medium, so it's entirely possible that the majority of us don't get the information on his decision until either Ohio State or Michigan State receive his letter of intent and the subsequent announcement from the "winning school." The Buckeyes and the Spartans have made Jones a priority since the start, so it's not a surprise that his decision has come down to such a riveting conclusion. 

"Michigan State made Jones' initial final group of three and the belief was it came down to Ohio State and Michigan State when he decided in June," MSU recruiting writer, Mike Wilson of told 11W about their pursuit of the 6-foot-5, 290 pound Jones. "Getting an in-home visit and an official visit late in the process and close to signing day is huge for the Spartans and they surely did all they could on the visit to get Jones enamored with MSU. He was one of the top offensive line targets for MSU all along and getting him to flip would give what is a solid class a cornerstone piece it has lacked and at the position the Spartans needed to address the most in this class. I think he picks Michigan State."

In my opinion, it's the Buckeyes who are in the "lead" position for Jones, despite the recent trip to Michigan State and all the rumblings of an impending flip. While social media needs to be taken with many grains of salt, Jones' Twitter remains littered with Buckeye-centric paraphernalia and he remains in regular contact with Ohio State commitments. He's built an excellent bond with a number of "Dream '14" members in the last seven months and has become very close with Urban Meyer as well. His mother, while not being vocal about her preference, seems to prefer Ohio State and did not escort him on his recent official visit to East Lansing, although she's been there with him previously.

Yes, there's the "issue" of Mike Vrabel's departure, and there's a chance Michigan State is selling him on the continuity of their staff (No one else is bring Jim Bollman to town.) Jones has good relationships with Spartan commitments as well, namely fellow Illinois-native Brian Allen, but I still feel the Buckeyes were his choice in June for a reason, and I think he sticks with the Buckeyes.


Malik McDowell's recruitment may be one of the strangest five-star recruitments of all time, and it's recently getting even stranger. A 6-foot-7, 290 pound defensive lineman who could project at offensive tackle in college, McDowell's parents have been very vocal recently about their preference. Greg McDowell, Malik's father, pulled no punches in his interview with's Steve Wiltfong.

“I want him out of Michigan. I don’t care if that’s Ohio State or Florida State.”

Not something you see every day, is it? Especially when it flies in the face of conventional wisdom which in this case said McDowell's parents strongly favored Michigan all along, while the defensive end himself was leaning towards Michigan State. Again, I asked's Mike Wilson for his thoughts.

"Securing the top in-state prospect is always a goal for the Spartans and McDowell seems to give Michigan State a shot to take that player again. The rumors about him liking MSU for a while seem true, but the obstacle appears to be getting the parents on board," Wilson said. "If he/the school have convinced the McDowells, he could be headed to East Lansing. Florida State and Ohio State are the leading threats right now. I like Florida State personally, but this has been a wild recruitment to follow."

McDowell visited Ohio State officially this past weekend and according to his mother, they had a great visit to Ohio State and the Buckeyes have become a dark horse favorite to land the five-star. When it comes to McDowell, nothing is going to be known until the morning of signing day when McDowell makes his choice from his high school, he's going to have an announcement at 9:30 a.m. and the Buckeyes are feeling as if they're in a good position. 

Did McDowell find a home in Columbus?Maik McDowell could give the Buckeyes a five-star surprise.

I believe Malik McDowell signs with the Buckeyes tomorrow morning if he cares about his parent's desires. If not, he'll sign with Michigan State at some point.


Ohio State will finish the 2014 class with a group that's ranked in the top five of the country, with or without Jones and McDowell. However, losing Jamarco Jones would without question be a major blow to an offensive line class that is vitally necessary for the Buckeyes moving forward. Jones and Demetrius Knox are key pieces to a unit that is losing four starters and losing either one of them would move the offensive line group from a "good" group to an "average" group solely based on numbers. 

Eleven Warriors will have more on Jamarco Jones and Malik McDowell as information becomes available, but at this time, we're all reading tea leaves and trying to piece together a likely outcome from the available knowledge. When a player (in this case, players) wants things quiet, they stay pretty darn quiet. When it comes to Jones and McDowell, right now, everyone is guessing except for the people inside of the kid's living room.


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TMac's picture

D for Double Initial Day
Dream 14 - Go BUCKS!!

ONE Not Done!

buckguyfan1's picture

Gospel according to Birm.  Thanks man, appreciate your dedication. 

fear_the_nut70's picture

It is curious indeed that Wilson thinks Jones's last minute visit to MSU is very telling, yet he thinks McDowell goes to FSU despite visiting the good guys this past weekend.  I suppose it is always possible he has additional details that he either can't or won't disclose from unnamed sources, but I just find this curious.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think the difference has to be that Jones made the official visit while committed to Ohio State...

BlueBayou's picture

My guess is also because MM originally canceled his tOSU OV in favor or one to MSU, having to be talked back into visiting tOSU.  I would think that isn't normally a good sign.  The MM situation definitely is a special case though and it will be interesting to see what he decides tomorrow.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

DAMN good thing I am working from home tomorrow so I don't have to pretend to be productive while obsessively pushing the refresh button on this site!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Seattle Linga's picture

Me three - will be glued to this http and looking forward to the official word coming down.

jamesrbrown322's picture

Shouldn't we get McDowell's parents to talk to Jamarco? Seems like a pretty obvious solution to me...

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

tennbuckeye19's picture

That's what I've been thinking all day. 

buckeyedexter's picture

It'll be awesome if we get both, but I'll be happy with just one.
Also, time to upgrade from a fax machines; I would think they're getting hard to find in some areas.

MN Buckeye's picture

Thanks for the updates, Birm. It is sounding like no news is good news so far.
With the overreactions of some extreme corners of fan bases (including ours), I they are wise to keep things close to the vest.

SilverState's picture

Bow to the fax machine:

Seattle Linga's picture

Birms any chance (for us that live out West) would be seeing any updates after midnight EST or does it all happen early in the AM?

ronbizi's picture

Sounds like Jones is an essential piece of a position that is losing several starters, while McDowell is icing on the cake.  I am hoping for both, but rooting harder to hang on to Jones.  Even if McDowell's parents have his best intentions in mind (which it sounds like), it sucks to publicly have your parents rule out schools you like.  Best of luck to the kids wherever they end up.

THE_JUICE's picture

Agree with you there.  Rooting hard for both.  REALLY rooting to keep Jamarco, but I will be happy with this class regardless.

jamesrbrown322's picture

I feel like the prosecution waiting for a verdict...the longer it goes, the more likley it may be to get bad news...
Hope I'm wrong!

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

BoFuquel's picture

What we need is Midnight Madness for NSD. Come on 11W you can set that up can'tcha. Good luck to all recruits. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Ebvine96's picture

This is when I start going OCD and checking twitter ever 2 mins

Seattle Linga's picture

Every two minutes - not nearly enough - check about every 41.5 seconds - be the leader on the block.

DannyBeane's picture

I am going to break my f5 button tomorrow and have a drink of whiskey for every gray box I see tomorrow.

Seattle Linga's picture

If that's true - you'll be passed out by 9:00 am or sooner

DannyBeane's picture

I have the day off and plenty of bacon to make a hangover sandwich.

allinosu's picture

Malik's mom is ok with Michigan but noway Michigan St. so it's down to three.

buckguyfan1's picture

Sorry, it's in my DNA...

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

We'll be running a livechat on the site from 8am until who knows when tomorrow guys, so we'll have plenty of discourse all day.

Youngbuck85's picture

I think jones sticks with osu, but ill be honest I don't see malik coming here. I've seen plenty of anti msu stuff but that doesn't necessarily mean that he wants to come to osu. Of anything said by the parents or him, what makes people think that he likes osu more then Michigan or Florida state? I just think everyone's putting words into their mouths. Hope I'm wrong tho, would be an outstanding get 


No matter what happens I'm going to be excited to see how these kids pan out. What makes it even more fun is when we see these kids a year or two from now running down the sideline for six and we all think back about their recruiting stories with fond memories. Tomorrow is their day. Hope nobody spoils it for them, like some have.


"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

BlueBayou's picture

My kids went to school with Landon Collins.  The kid wore Alabama stuff to school all the time.  How his mom wasn't already prepared for his commitment to them, I'll never know.  I will say that while she still seemed disappointed this year, she handled her other son's commitment to Florida much better.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Landon Collins lived with and was raised by his father and step-mother.  She was an absent mother.  So the fact that she was even on stage is mind-boggling.

BlueBayou's picture

While it is true that Landon Collins lived with his father and step-mother, I think it is too much to say that his mother was absent.  Landon came to live with his father post Katrina when he moved in with them about an hour away from New Orleans.  Landon's mom, step-dad, and brother continued to live in New Orleans (his step-dad is his younger brother's bio dad, so moving with Landon wasn't an option).  Now this separation I'm sure made things hard, but I'm sure they did the best they could.  I saw her at his football games here, which makes me think they were interacting on a regular basis in some way.  Still, I'm sure she didn't wield the kind of influence in his school choice as she would have liked.
Also, I'm not the one that downvoted you in case you were wondering.

allinosu's picture

Birm, Malik's mother was on a Michigan radio station and said a lot of things that makes me concerned about Malik's attitude. Specifically that because of his ability he feels entitled and all he has to do is show up. She feels his comfort zone at MSU means not going to class and partying. This concerns me coming from from his mother. She said everyone is telling him he is great and kissed his ass so much about football that he didn't know what academics was offered at each school. She also said he will not be picking a MSU hat. Do you find this different than what you know about him.

pabdublin78's picture

Kind of reminds me of Christmas Eve as a kid.  Couldn't wait until morning to see if the gifts I was hoping for were under the tree, or in this case, in the fax machine...  
Thanks Birm for the article and let's hope your right!  

Statutoryglory's picture

Malex McDowzalone?

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Even with a phone call tonight, neither OSU or MSU would be allowed (or wise) to comment on Jones, correct?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Correct, they can't comment until tomorrow if they choose to. He will make his decision tonight according to Josh Hemboldt at

Buckeye Chuck's picture

They can't comment directly, but we might be able to read between the lines, especially if Kerry Coombs is on Twitter at all this evening.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

Ebvine96's picture

Apparent jones is announcing on twitter, he just retweeted a Msu commit and I am totally not grasping right now, I feel a mild case of butthurt coming tonight or tomor for me, hoping I am wrong

The Butler's picture

College Football - the only use left for a fax machine.

I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.


Seattle Linga's picture

Also good for Butt faxing Butler

ScoobyKnows's picture

Tomorrow is the start of the new college football season...I love it!  Scooby Dooby Dooooooooo!

Ericgobucks's picture

Great article, Jeremy. I am definitely worried about Jones, but ultimately feel as you (albeit with much less information and connections as you) that logically he sticks with the relationships he's made as an Ohio State commit for all these months. Now McDowell, I never really thought we had a shot until the past week or so and to me, he's just icing on the cake of a great, great class. I'll be checking Twitter regularly for info on these two at work tomorrow.

1967Buck's picture

Little sleep tonight or maybe dreaming big. Whatever happens, happens. Popcorn will be ready. Peace and Go Bucks!!!

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

I think it would be crushing not to get Jones.

MM on the other hand doesn't seem to have the attitude to succeed at this level.

I wish then both the best.

OSU069's picture

I have no idea why you would come to that conclusion about McDowell.. Seems like an awfully strong statement from someone who has never met him. 

buckeyedude's picture

I live in Toledo, but work in Detroit, and I listen to 760AM, WJR every day. Malik's mother is getting a LOT of hate from Sparty Nation with her anti-MSU comments. Mitch Albom and Kenny Brown were discussing the influence of parents on a kid's college choice this afternoon. They are dreading Malik picking the Scarlet colored hat, I can tell you that for sure.



jmw's picture

I'm confused. The parents are dreading Malik picking the "Scarlet" hat meaning OSU? Or do you mean the radio announcers?


buckeyeguy0615's picture

I think he means sparty nation

jaxbuckeye's picture

I know I'm in the minority and will likely get butchered, but for all I care, Jamarco can go to Michigan State.  I don't want him.  This isn't a case of a head coach leaving for the NFL or it being the hometown team.  If he had doubt then he shouldn't have committed in June and built a relationship with all the other recruits in the class.  So you're telling me he's going to turn his back on them for the bs "doing what's best for me" garbage?  Good riddance.  We will have NO problem finding offensive linemen.

buckeyeguy0615's picture

What crawled up your ass?

jaxbuckeye's picture

Nothing.  Just look at these pages though.  Ridiculous.

irishfury's picture

I want a kid who wants to be here.  These kids should go where they want.  I have no doubt in my mind the Loss to MSU and Clemson keeps Urban up at night.  If there is any coach I trust its Urban to make a statement next year against MSU and for years to come.  I will lose no sleep if Jones picks MSU but I would be glad to have him if he wants the bleed OSU with me.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Some people act like they've never made a decision and then had second thoughts about it...

cplunk's picture

No kidding. Apparently doing what's best for you is bs garbage.

jaxbuckeye's picture

Some people act like others can't have a different opinion.

Balkestud's picture

In my opinion Jones is the more important recruit for us. I still don't know why he is not a 5 star? I have watched him quite a bit this year and think he will be our left tackle for 3 years. I see a move to Oline for McDowell,  whichever school he chooses, which will take time to get to Jones' level

It gets kind of rough in the back of my limousine,



Ebvine96's picture

He just tweeted o-h we got jones!!!

KingKosar's picture
jamesrbrown322's picture

I may never have been happier to be wrong!

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Buckifan4Life's picture

There it is!!! That's what I've been waiting for. :)

KingKosar's picture

Even more confirmation :)

Ericgobucks's picture

Birm, another solid prediction! 

1stYrBuckIClub's picture

Birm changed his Crystal ball prediction for Malik McDowell tonight from Buckeye to Sparty-Noooooo. Any info here can share for the change?

Seattle Linga's picture

Birm mentioned that if he did go to MSU it will be against his parents wishes.