Recruiting Rundown: Looking Ahead to Some of the Top Offensive Targets in the Class of 2018

By Andrew Ellis on July 30, 2016 at 8:10 am
Westerville South's Jaelen Gill.
Jaelen Gill

It took a bit of time, but the Buckeyes are on the board for the Class of 2018. Last weekend's commitment from Florida tailback Brian Snead was followed up yesterday with the pledge from Emory Jones, one of the nation's top quarterbacks. 

With the class now off and running and only a handful of spots remaining for 2017, it's a good time to start honing in on the 2018 class as well. While it's a little early to put together a full board like we've been running for the 2017 class, it's never too early to look at some of the top prospects for following cycle.

Jaelen Gill • ATH • Westerville, OH • Composite Ranking: No. 26

The state's second ranked player for the class, Gill – who checks in at 6-foot-1 and 182 pounds – is listed by 247Sports as the nation's No. 2 all-purpose back. At this point, it's tough to say exactly what position he best projects at on offense, though he primarily lines up in the backfield at Westerville's South High School.

Gill was one of a handful of juniors invited to Nike's The Opening earlier this month, and we've been discussing him ever since his freshman season in 2014. The speedster doesn't appear to be in any sort of hurry, but we really wouldn't be surprised to see him pop at any time. His crystal ball currently reads 100% in favor of the Buckeyes, but Notre Dame and Michigan State are two other schools to keep an eye on. 

Jackson Carman • OT • Fairfield, OH • Composite Ranking: No. 15

Jackson Carman checks in as the country's No. 2 offensive tackle for 2018. At 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, Carman has been on a bit of a commitment watch since April's spring game when he was getting a lot of special attention from Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes' staff. The state's top overall player was brought to midfield to before the festivities kicked off and some thought a commitment may have taken place at the time. 

Alas, Carman remains uncommitted for the time being and it would appear that Jim Harbaugh's Wolverines may be the competition here. It would be a surprise if the Buckeyes were to miss out on this one, but those expecting an early commitment may grow a little impatient. 

T.J. Pledger • RB • West Hills, CA • Composite Ranking: No. 71

Brian Snead is already in the fold and there's no reason to think Jaelen Gill won't end up in Columbus as well, but T.J. Pledger visiting Ohio State twice in July is a pretty big deal. The Buckeyes extended an offer back in January, and while the crystal ball currently reads 80% in favor of USC, it's tough to ignore a West Coast kid making two trips to Ohio on his own dime. 

It's anyone's guess how many backs Urban Meyer and Tony Alford will look to bring in for 2018, and Snead will be one to watch because early commitments from Florida kids are always interesting, but Pledger is firmly in the mix right now. The Buckeyes' recent success in California – namely the commitment from Wyatt Davis and expected August pledge from Tyjon Lindsey – certainly won't hurt their chances. The nation's No. 6 tailback is also planning a return trip for a game this fall. 

Zamir White • RB • Laurinburg, NC • Composite Ranking: No. 5

The nation's top tailback for 2018 was in Columbus in mid-June, and he left with some rave reviews of the Buckeyes and the coaching staff. The five-star was going to try to make a return trip for Friday Night Lights, but some transportation issues prevented that visit from taking place. 

White, who already checks in at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, has also made recent trips to North Carolina and Notre Dame. White spoke with's Michael Clark about his Ohio State visit and what stood out during his time in Columbus.

"It was a good trip," said the 6-foot-1, 210-pound White. "We toured the campus and facilities. We met with the strength coach and also spent a lot of time with (running backs) coach (Tony) Alford. And we got to sit down with coach (Urban) Meyer, which was great. We also got to go see the job fair that the football players were participating in which was good. They have a really good program to help players find jobs and careers when football is over. Via

Kamryn Babb • WR • Saint Louis, MO • Composite Ranking: No. 97

Ohio State's top-ranked 2017 recruiting class is currently without a single wide receiver commit. While that is expected to change in late August, Zach Smith and Co. really don't seem to be paying too much attention to the 2018 class just yet. Seven wideouts have been offered thus far, but Kamryn Babb – after a strong performance at a one-day camp in June – may be the most intriguing. 

Babb earned an offer following that camp performance as Ohio State joined the likes of Michigan State, Nebraska, and Missouri. Babb, who checks in at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, has identified the Buckeyes and Spartans as two of the schools standing out early in the process. He spoke with about Ohio State and a former star from his neck of the woods. 

“Of course, they have Ezekiel Elliott coming out of there and being a big star from St. Louis plays into it,” he said. “Just what they do with their players, the education, and who they send to the league is what I see when I look at them.” Via

The lone crystal ball pick thus far was cast in favor of the in-state Tigers of Mizzou. 

L'Christian Smith • WR • Dayton, OH • Composite Ranking: No. 111

Last November, one of the state's top talents sent out a tweet that is probably going to define his recruitment as well as his college of choice.

As of last month, four-star wide receiver L'Christian Smith (Wayne) was still torn on which sport he would ultimately like to pursue. He holds offers from all of the Midwestern powers as well as the coveted Bama offer. At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, Smith is one of the state's top overall athletes. Smith has noted that he's spent time discussing his future with former Wayne High School star Braxton Miller.

While it remains to be seen which path he will choose, many think football would lead him to Columbus while the hardwood may give the edge to Tom Izzo.

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