Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment this afternoon from the most versatile lineman in the country when Brooklyn, New York, Erasmus Hall four-star Matthew Jones pledged his services to the Buckeyes following a one-day camp on Saturday.
Let's take a look at what Jones — the No. 53 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
You wouldn't be able to tell based on his off-the-field demeanor, but the 6-foot-4, 315-pound Jones is an aggressive, punishing athlete with the desire to dominate his opponent through the whistle. Just throw on the tape and you'll see as much.
No matter the side of the ball on which he lines up, Jones fires off the ball and uses his upper body strength to drive the opponent backward.
On offense, he clears defenders out of the way entirely and reaches the second level with ease when asked to pull in the run game. He's also patient and uses his leverage well in pass protection.
Jones plays offensive guard with the mindset of an elite defensive tackle, trying to be as disruptive as possible. He can sometimes rely too much on his strength — which is very easy to do when you can leg-press more than 800 pounds — and his technique suffers a bit as a result.
A three-year starter, Jones was named first-team all-state following a junior season in which he helped the Dutchmen to their third-consecutive New York Public Schools Athletic League championship game.
IN THE CLASS
Jones becomes the 14th member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, joining five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent, five-star quarterback Emory Jones, five-star defensive end Brenton Cox, four-star offensive tackle Max Wray, four-star defensive end Andrew Chatfield, four-star running backs Jaelen Gill and Brian Snead, four-star linebackers Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell, four-star cornerback Sevyn Banks, four-star safeties Josh Proctor and Jaiden Woodbey and three-star running back Master Teague III.
Though most recruiting services have him pegged as a defensive tackle — and a damn good one at that — the position is not one of great need, especially with Vincent already in the fold. Cleveland Heights four-star end Tyreke Smith could potentially move inside and Florida three-star Nesta Silvera is a candidate to flip from Miami, too, making it all the more likely Jones' first look comes at center or guard with the Buckeyes.
Regardless, figuring out where a talent like Jones will play in college is a good problem to have.
A lot of that will depend upon who else Ohio State brings in this cycle, though, as the staff would like to land as many as three guards with the idea of moving one to center. The Buckeyes are among the favorites for IMG Academy four-star Verdis Brown and Pennsylvania four-star guard Fredrick "Juice" Scruggs, and I'd be willing to bet all three end up in Columbus.
Sometimes earning an offer is a simply matter of trying until you succeed. Such was the case for Jones, who put in a less-than-stellar performance at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights in the summer of 2015.
He was dominant as a sophomore and subsequent spring practices, though, and the staff finally pulled the trigger as a result.
"Coach said it was not right to analyze Matthew based on the end of his freshman year when he was young and raw, and just learning the game," Erasmus head coach Danny Landberg said. "But after seeing his film and maturation, and getting my stamp of approval, that was good enough for them.
"I think with everyone else offering him first, it was a feeling of validation when Urban [Meyer] offered," he continued. "Being that we have a strong friendship and with the fact that they don't offer early, it really shows that it was Matt earning it rather than being based on our relationship."
Jones certainly used the FNL performance as motivation and developed into one of the best linemen in the country. Surely there were prospects at today's one-day camp who would love to follow the same path.