Ohio State’s quarterback search took another turn last Thursday night when Wisconsin four-star commit Graham Mertz announced that he was shutting down his recruitment.
While I never truly believed the Buckeyes could flip Mertz, he’s long been at the top of head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day‘s list. He’s also the reason the staff did not make a final push for Texas four-star Grant Gunnell, despite the fact that Gunnell was seemingly ready to pull the trigger following his official visit in late April.
Meyer and Day simply believe Mertz to be the better quarterback, and accepting Gunnell’s pledge would have effectively ended all hope of flipping Mertz — hence the discussion about not being entirely sold on what Gunnell has to offer.
Mertz’s visit one week after Gunnell’s official gave the staff a ton of confidence, which is why they let the latter choose Arizona earlier this month. He was seriously considering a return visit for Friday Night Lights next week, too, but his official visit to Madison over two weekends ago apparently swung things back in favor of the Badgers.
That visit is now off, of course.
With that, Ohio State is set to welcome Florida three-star Brian Maurer to campus this weekend instead. He’s someone who the staff has kept tabs on for a few months now, which certainly works in their favor as he’s blown up a bit on the camp circuit this spring.
Maurer, who was invited to the Elite 11 Finals and subsequently punched his ticket to The Opening Finals with a strong performance in Los Angeles, has the size, arm strength and athleticism of a top-tier quarterback and had a solid season against one of the highest levels of Florida high school football — but there’s some concern about his accuracy (57 percent completion rate) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (22 to 13). Despite that, I think he’s a bit underrated because he doesn’t attend high school in the recruiting hotbeds of Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa.
With so much uncertainty at the position, Maurer’s unofficial visit for Friday Night Lights this weekend looms large. If he performs well in front of Meyer and Day, he’ll get an offer. And I think they’ll make a move for his pledge then or shortly thereafter, which is why I placed my Crystal Ball in favor of the Buckeyes this morning.
I will say Florida is a potential fly in the ointment, as he's been to Gainesville numerous times, including this past weekend (West Port is less than an hour to the south). The Gators haven't offered and already have a quarterback commitment, but are likely to take two this cycle.
Though he’s Maurer is not the most polished quarterback right now, it’s clear he has a ton of potential. If he develops over the next few years, he’s a steal. If not, he likely gets buried on the depth chart by the two quarterbacks Ohio State will certainly have to take next year (Jack Miller and Jalen Suggs, anyone?).
In this scenario, the Buckeyes head into the recruiting dead period with a quarterback — and, in my opinion, it’s someone who is going to surprise a lot of people at The Opening later this month and earn his fourth star rather quickly.