Monday will be a pivotal day for Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class.
A very important piece may soon be falling into place for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes as the country's No. 1 tight end prospect is set to announce his decision on Monday at 3 p.m.
Here's what you need to know heading into tomorrow's announcement.
Anyone who's been following Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class should be familiar with Lindenhurst, New York tight end Jeremy Ruckert. We've had him right up toward the top of our recruiting board for some time now, so Monday is certainly going to be an important day for the Ohio State staff.
When looking at the 2018 class as a whole, I think it's fair to say that there are maybe four prospects who are the clear-cut, top-of-the-board targets at their respective positions. Taron Vincent is that player at defensive tackle, and the five-star has been a part of Ohio State's class dating back to April. Jackson Carman is clearly the guy at offensive tackle and Kamryn Babb has been the top target at wideout for some time now.
Ruckert is the player the staff has honed in on at tight end. The Buckeyes extended an offer in May of 2016, and he's been at the top of the wish list ever since.
While tight end prospects don't always get the fanfare of other positions, Jeremy Ruckert's performance at Nike's The Opening was a real eye-opener for many who perhaps hadn't been following too closely.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) July 13, 2017
Following the performance in Oregon, the 6-foot-5.5, 238-pounder earned a fifth star from 247Sports and was bumped all the way up to the No. 11 prospect in the entire country. He checks in as a four-star in the composite rankings and is the No. 52 player nationally. The composite is likely to improve even more when Rivals.com updates its rankings, which currently has Ruckert as No. 209 in America.
This recruitment has boiled down to four programs: Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin. However, this one is really a Meyer versus Harbaugh battle and Ohio State has seemingly been out in front for some time now.
Initially, some questioned the Buckeyes' tight end usage in comparison to Michigan and Notre Dame; two programs known for utilizing the position a bit more. With Kevin Wilson running the show now, it will be interesting to see if there are any big changes in the passing game this fall.
Ohio State has had two tight ends selected in the third round over the last three years. Jeff Heuerman went to the Broncos in 2015 and Nick Vannett to the Seahawks in 2016. Marcus Baugh will almost assuredly find a home in the NFL following the coming season. So, while it may be reasonable to question the overall usage, the Buckeyes haven't had any issues sending tight ends to the league.
Looking at the roster, it's also important to note that Ohio State didn't sign a tight end this past February. Baugh is entering his final season, AJ Alexander will be a junior in 2018, Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann both have major potential, and I don't think anyone really knows exactly what's going on with Kierre Hawkins.
Notre Dame has one tight end committed for 2018 while the Buckeyes, Wolverines, and Badgers don't have anyone on board yet. Michigan, like Ohio State, didn't sign anyone at the position in 2017.
Ruckert has been to Columbus three times since last summer and also made trips to South Bend and Ann Arbor this past March. In addition to his final four, he holds offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, and just about every other major program in America.
Ohio State holds 100 percent of the crystal ball picks and the staff has done an incredible job of building and maintaining a relationship with Ruckert, his family, and even his girlfriend's family. Simply put, this is one of those recruitments that Urban Meyer has been especially involved with, which certainly says a lot about how Ohio State views the Long Island tight end.
— Jeremy Ruckert (@Jeremy_Ruckert1) January 28, 2017
We've long maintained that Ohio State would be the pick for Jeremy Ruckert, and nothing has happened to change our stance on that. This is a player that Michigan also covets, and while the Wolverines have put forth a solid effort, it's likely not going to be enough.
We are expecting some good news for the Buckeyes on Monday afternoon. Stay dialed into Eleven Warriors for full coverage of the Ruckert announcement and its impact on the 2018 class.