Heat Check: Offensive Line Shuffle and a New Quarterback Emerges Amid Emory Jones Uncertainty

By Andrew Ellis on November 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm
Kentucky quarterback commit Jarren Williams makes his debut on our recruiting board.

Recruiting is all about momentum. Sometimes you're gaining it, sometimes you're losing it. What prospects are trending up with Ohio State? Let's take a look.

October has come and gone, and there are now just three full months until February's national signing day. The newly implemented early signing period will run from Dec. 20 through Dec. 22, and given the current coaching turmoil at several big-time programs, it will be interesting to see which commits elect to sign early and which ones wait things out a bit longer. 

The Buckeyes' 2018 recruiting class is still No. 1 in the country with Texas, Penn State, Miami, and Georgia rounding out the top five. If Ohio State hopes to finish in the top spot, hanging on to its current commits will be of paramount importance. Emory Jones, Josh Proctor, Antwuan Jackson, and Brenton Cox have already taken other visits, and four-star safety Jaiden Woodbey will likely do the same at one point or another. 

Urban Meyer has 18 in the fold right now, and there's likely going to be room for about 24-25 signees. There weren't any new commitments in October, but the showdown with the Nittany Lions was probably the biggest official visit weekend of the season. The Buckeyes had a memorable performance and remain in a good spot with several key targets.

NAME POSITION RANK Prev. Rating Others In the Mix
JACKSON CARMAN OT 1 1 ★★★★★ Clemson•USC
KAMRYN BABB WR 2 2 ★★★★ LSU•Michigan•ND
ANTHONY COOK CB 3 3 ★★★★★ Texas•LSU
TYREKE SMITH DE 4 4 ★★★★ Penn State•Alabama•USC
JAYSON OWEH DE 5 5 ★★★★ Penn State•Notre Dame
RASHEED WALKER OT 6 6 ★★★★ Penn State•Maryland
NICHOLAS PETIT-FRERE OT 7 11 ★★★★ Florida•Alabama•Notre Dame
TOMMY TOGIAI DT 8 7 ★★★★ Washington•USC
JARREN WILLIAMS QB 9 NA ★★★★ Kentucky•Alabama•Miami
TYSON CAMPBELL CB 10 9 ★★★★★ Miami•LSU•Clemson•Bama•FSU
CADE MAYS OT 11 NA ★★★★★ Tennesse•Clemson•Georgia
  •  Last month's version can be found HERE.

Jackson Carman officially visited Ohio State for the Oct. 28 matchup against the Nittany Lions. It was about the 50th time he's been in town over the last few years, and he remains at the top of our board. The five-star is still planning to check out USC and Clemson later this season, but we've still got him pegged to the Buckeyes in the end. 

Ohio State's top wide receiver target was also in town for the Penn State game. I will fully admit that I was expecting a commitment to go down, but such was not the case. Kamryn Babb still plans on taking other officials – including one to LSU – but it's tough to imagine the Buckeyes losing out on the longtime top target. 

A certain quarterback commit seems excited about the possibility of Babb in Columbus.

The recruitment of the country's No. 2 cornerback went through some twists and turns in October. Anthony Cook was planning to announce at the end of the month, but he has since elected to delay that decision. The postponement was likely a good thing for the Buckeyes as the Houston native has been trending toward Texas and LSU lately. 

Cook is enrolling early, but this recruitment seems far from over. He's been wanting to watch the Longhorns to see what kind of progress they've made. Texas went 2-2 in October and while they don't look like a powerhouse just yet, they're definitely making strides under Tom Herman. Cook has friends and teammates going to Austin (or already there) so that certainly works in Herman's favor. 

The Buckeyes have some work to do if they want any chance of snagging either of the top corner targets. Fellow five-star Tyson Campbell also remains on our board, but that one has been trending in the wrong direction for some time now. Mark Richt or Nick Saban both are in a good spot for the Fort Lauderdale star.

Last February's defensive back haul was a great one, but taking two corners in the Class of 2018 should still be the plan. 

Two (or three) is also expected to be the number at defensive end. The aforementioned five-star Brenton Cox is already in, and Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh remain as priority targets for Larry Johnson and Co. It's unclear who's higher on the staff's board at this point, but they're high on both players and would absolutely take them both. The fight with James Franklin and the Nittany Lions is still going strong, however.

Both of the four-star pass rushers will announce at the Under Armour Game on Jan. 4, and right now I'd say the Buckeyes are in a better position with Oweh than they are with Smith. Franklin has done a tremendous job with Cleveland product's family, and Ohio State has a lot of work to do here. Smith has used his Ohio State official already and is scheduled to be at Penn State on Dec. 8.

Don't be shocked if some new and old defensive end targets start garnering attention. Cincinnati's Christopher Oats is one potential option as many think the four-star outside linebacker could develop into more of an edge rusher. Things cooled down a bit between the two parties, but he could end up being another Ohioan who finds his way into the class.

The Buckeyes are going to lose a lot along the defensive line, and you gotta think the staff would prefer to take three in 2018. 

Elsewhere in the trenches, Tommy Togiai remains the top remaining target at defensive tackle. With Taron Vincent and Antwuan Jackson already committed, there's a chance the Buckeyes just end up with two at the position. Togiai has Washington and Ohio State at the top, but the Huskies would likely be the pick right now. A decision was rumored to be coming, but the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder seems content on waiting a little longer. 

The elephant in the room revolves around Ohio State's quarterback recruiting. Emory Jones continues to take visits and the Buckeyes have officially made a move on another signal-caller in four-star Jarren Williams. The Kentucky commit is planning an official visit for the Illinois game, but he already makes his debut at the No. 9 spot on our recruiting board. 

The Jones recruitment has had an ominous tone for a while now, but it's important to remember that he's still committed to Ohio State and did not make the expected trip to Tuscaloosa last weekend. We've seen recruitments like this that have worked out in the end (Shaun Wade comes to mind), but the Buckeyes can't be left standing at the altar when it comes to the most important position on the field. 

Some analysts actually seem to be higher on Williams (No. 8 dual-threat) than they are on Jones (No. 3 dual-threat). The Lawrenceville star faces stiff competition and has put up some gaudy numbers (38 touchdowns as a senior) both through the air and on the ground. It's also impossible to deny the arm talent of Jones, however, as well as the relationship he's built with other commits and targets.

Ohio State's (and Alabama's) quarterback recruiting will likely be one of the top national storylines all the way up until February. 

While Jackson Carman remains at the top of the board, the Buckeyes would ideally like to add at least one other lineman in addition to the Fairfield five-star. We've mentioned it before, but there's a chance that Max Wray slides inside and that would further increase the need at offensive tackle.

Rasheed Walker is still the most likely addition, but that's another one that will come down to Urban Meyer and James Franklin. Walker was in town for the Penn State game, and the good news is that the visit was of the unofficial variety. The four-star can still get back to Columbus at some point for an official before he announces at the Army All-American Bowl.

Tampa's Nicholas Petit-Frere moves up a few spots, but there's no reason for too much excitement just yet. The turmoil in Gainesville will likely hurt the Gators' chances, but Notre Dame may end up being the beneficiary of the McElwain firing. The country's No. 4 tackle does plan on visiting Columbus again, so it's certainly one to watch.

There was some big news out of Knoxville a few hours ago when five-star tackle Cade Mays backed off of his pledge to Tennessee. Even with uncertainty in Vol country, this was a bit of a surprise considering Mays resides in Knoxville, his father played for Phil Fulmer, and he had been committed for over two years. 

Mays is fresh off an unofficial visit to Georgia and will also check out Columbus and South Bend. He already has another (official) visit planned for Athens, so Kirby Smart is probably feeling pretty good right now. It's too soon to tell what kind of an impact the Buckeyes may have, but we will surely know more following this weekend's official visit.

If you're wondering what to watch for in November, then all eyes should be on the quarterback saga, Anthony Cook, and Cade Mays. Obviously a lot more will inevitably transpire, but those are the ones to monitor most closely in the coming weeks. 

Meanwhile, this could be something that gets Ohio State fans a bit riled up. 

No one is scheduled to announce this month, but there's always the possibility that Kam Babb decides to put an end to his recruitment and Cook may very well pull the trigger for Texas, LSU, or Ohio State at some point as well. 

The biggest official visit weekends are now behind us, but with the high school football season coming to an end, there's always the chance to see some surprise visitors pop up here and there.

The coaching issues at Florida and Tennessee are only adding fuel to the recruiting fire as fans struggle to deal with 17-year old kids not wanting to play for lame-duck coaches and programs on the demise.

The uncertainty is starting to bring out the best of #VolTwitter, which is always a sight to behold. A commitment to Vol Nation is an eternal bond that should never be compromised under any circumstances. There is only one punishment for breaking such a sacred pact: the wrath of thousands of Volunteer fans on social media

The dumpster fire in Knoxville is causing Tennessee fans to lose their minds.
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