It's an exciting time in the world of Ohio State football recruiting.
Camp season is well underway and next month brings with it two of the more important recruiting events of the year. Nike's The Opening will once again have a distinct Buckeye flavor as numerous commits and targets flock to Oregon for the camp and festivities. Ohio State's Friday Night Lights will bring its own share of excitement on July 21.
Urban Meyer's No. 2-ranked recruiting class features 13 commitments which already includes a trio of five-star prospects. With a number of targets nearing decisions, we certainly expect that number to change over the next six weeks.
Here's a look at the ones to watch most closely as the summer rolls on.
K'Vaughan Pope • 2018 ATH/OLB • Dinwiddle, VA (Dinwiddle County) • ★★★★
Virginia linebacker K'Vaughan Pope is the first name on our list, and he may very well be the next Buckeye pledge. Pope was in town earlier this week for Ohio State's one-day camp, and by all accounts the four-star had an impressive outing in front of the Buckeye coaching staff. The Florida Gators appear to be the stiffest competition, but with his school year having finally reached its conclusion, we look for the country's No. 144 prospect to be on board sooner rather than later.
If everything remains status quo for the top-ranked Miami Hurricanes class, a commitment from the Virginia star would give the Buckeyes the No. 1 class in America.
Matthew Jones • 2018 OL/DL • Brooklyn, NY (Erasmus Hall) • ★★★★
Brooklyn's Matthew Jones is expected to be on campus today, and after months of being out in front in the recruitment, Ohio State may be on the verge of some very good news. The program's relationship with Erasmus Hall High School has been well documented, and Jones looks to be next in line.
Schools like Penn State and Clemson remain in hot pursuit, but this one has been trending toward the Buckeyes for some time now. Jones could be utilized practically anywhere along the offensive line or the interior portion of the defensive front.
L'Christian Smith • 2018 WR • Dayton, Ohio (Wayne) • ★★★★
It's been an interesting few months for Blue Smith. Ohio State was thought to be the favorite early on, but then the Kentucky Wildcats made a move in the late-winter months. The nation's No. 4 athlete had a meeting with Urban Meyer back in May, and all signs are now pointing toward the Wayne High School star siding with the Buckeyes.
A phenom on the field and the hardwood, Smith is without question one of the country's most impressive athletes, and he's slated to make a return trip to Columbus this weekend. His timeline seems to be up in the air a bit, but most recent reports indicate a decision could be coming in July.
Meyer is clearly locked onto this one, and it wouldn't be wise to bet against the Buckeyes.
Jeremy Ruckert • 2018 TE • Lindenhurst, NY (Lindenhurst) • ★★★★
The recruitment of the country's No. 2 tight end has come down to four programs. Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin all continue to battle it out for Jeremy Ruckert, a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder from Lindenhurst, New York. The consensus remains, however, that the Buckeyes are on the verge of landing their top target at the position.
It has long seemed like a decision would come this summer, and while we don't have an exact date yet, Ohio State remains on the lookout for some good news. The Army All-American has been a priority target for several months as very little attention has been paid to other players at the position.
Kamryn Babb • 2018 WR • Saint Louis, MO (Christian Brothers) • ★★★★
Kamryn Babb is another player who has topped the staff's board for some time now. The Saint Louis wideout was in Columbus last week and right now it's difficult to even identify the main competition for his services. Babb checks is as the No. 10 receiver in the composite rankings, but 247Sports actually has him No. 1 at the position.
Babb had been planning to check out some SEC programs, but if he makes it back up for Friday Night Lights, then the commitment watch may really be on. A nice little bonus could be teammate and fellow wide receiver Cameron Brown. Brown put on a show at last week's camp, earned a Buckeye offer, and then decommitted from Nebraska shortly thereafter.
Michael Harris • 2018 LB • Tucker, GA (Tucker) • ★★★★
Tucker, Georgia linebacker Michael Harris is expected to work out for the Ohio State staff today, and it's probably going to take one heck of a performance for him to earn the green light. Harris is projected to be more of an inside linebacker at the next level, so the addition of Teradja Mitchell may spell bad news for the four-star who grew up dreaming of playing for Ohio State.
Still, Harris will get his shot today. If he shows enough athleticism to play multiple linebacker spots, then that will certainly help his cause. With the aforementioned K'Vaughan Pope and California's Solomon Tuliaupupu still being targeted, the Buckeyes are likely to wait things out a bit.
Cade Stover • 2019 OLB/DE • Lexington, Ohio (Lexington) • ★★★★
One of the state's top 2019 prospects continues to garner new offers. Notre Dame entered the picture earlier this week when they joined the likes of Ohio State, Penn State, and Oklahoma. Stover camped on Tuesday and was spotted working out with the linebackers, though his future home still looks to be at defensive end.
This is one that we've been expecting to happen for a while now, and there are no questions as to where the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder is going to end up, it's just a matter of when he decides to pull the trigger.
Trey Knox • 2019 WR • Murfreesboro, TN (Blackman) • ★★★★
The Buckeyes got some good news on Sunday when 2018 tailback Master Teague announced his decision, and it's looking more and more likely that his 2019 counterpart could soon hop on board as well. Trey Knox is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound wideout who already holds offers from Ohio State, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and others. He hasn't been shy about his affinity for the Buckeyes.
Knox was scheduled to arrive in Columbus yesterday with his entire family. We aren't sure how Zach Smith and Urban Meyer want to handle 2019 wide receiver recruiting since they haven't landed anyone yet at the position for 2018. However, if Knox impresses at today's camp and wants to make a commitment, then it may be tough to turn down.
Doug Nester • 2019 OT • Huntington, WV (Spring Valley) • ★★★★
We haven't talked a whole lot about the country's No. 6 offensive tackle for the 2019 class, but he may be one to watch closely in the coming weeks. Doug Nester, a West Virginia native who checks in at No. 48 nationally for the class, has now made multiple trips to Columbus dating back to April and is building a relationship with both Meyer and Greg Studrawa.
Schools like Tennessee, Florida, and West Virginia are squarely in the mix here as well, and Nester was scheduled to be in Tuscaloosa yesterday for Alabama's camp. The four-star doesn't appear to have a decision timeline, but this certainly could be one to watch.
This is probably a good time to remind everyone that expecting the unexpected is always a wise strategy when following Ohio State football recruiting. Back in April, we looked at some potential spring commitments, and two months later a few of those prospects are no longer even on Ohio State's board.