11W Recruiting Mailbag: Discussing the Quarterback Situation, Ohio State's Options at Defensive End and the Stockpile of Talent in the Secondary

By Andrew Lind on December 7, 2017 at 2:15 pm
Tyreke Johnson
Tyreke Johnson

The 11W Recruiting Mailbag is your one-stop shop for all things Ohio State recruiting. You have questions. We have answers.

Will Ohio State sign a quarterback in the Early Signing Period? - TMac

That’s the plan. Who that is, though, remains to be seen.

Obviously, the Buckeyes' top priority is four-star commit Emory Jones. And following an in-home visit with head coach Urban Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day on Tuesday afternoon, there's growing confidence the staff will be able to hold onto his pledge.

Given how quickly the Early Signing Period is approaching, I anticipate they'll want an answer — will he stay or will he flip to Alabama — by this weekend. The Crimson Tide would also like to know one way or another, simply because they, too, would only have a little over a week to land a commitment or flip a prospect who is about to sign on the dotted line. Time is simply running out, and neither program can afford to be held hostage by Jones' indecisiveness any longer.

I honestly believe it can go either way at the point in time, and it'll seemingly come down to Jones' relationship with Ohio State, which goes back nearly two years, or Alabama's proximity to home.

If the Buckeyes receive bad news, I don't think they'll have much trouble finding Jones' replacement. Texas three-star Matthew Baldwin has flown under the recruiting radar, as he's only in his first season as a starter. But he comes from a program that is an assembly line for top college quarterbacks.

Waiting his turn may have hurt his stock, but I think he's going to surprise a lot of people with his arm and leadership ability once he gets to the next level.

Baldwin has suggested he would commit regardless of what happens with Jones, but I think the staff would prefer to hold off knowing if they accept his pledge, it might seal their fate with their current quarterback.

Tennessee four-star commit Adrian Martinez is another name to watch, though he doesn't have an offer at this time. He's mentioned Ohio State as the school to which he'd flip if he decides he no longer wants to play for the Volunteers, but I'm not certain how the staff feels about his shoulder as he recovers from a torn labrum.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to bring in three elite safeties in one class, so Tyreke Johnson's commitment a sign that one or both of Josh Proctor and Jaiden Woodbey are going to flip elsewhere? Or does the staff see him as a corner who can coexist alongside those two? - Themostbrian

The latter, but Johnson offers some great insurance if either Proctor or Woodbey eventually change their mind — though I personally don't anticipate they will.

Despite lining up at cornerback most of the time at Jacksonville's Trinity Christian, Johnson has been listed as a safety by most recruiting services because of his size. After all, 6-foot-1 and 191-pound cornerbacks aren't something you see very often. But that, combined with his speed and agressiveness, make him perfect for the position.

If you'll recall, Ohio State already has three safeties committed, too, as Pennsylvania three-star Marcus Hooker will transition from cornerback at the next level.

Give an update on Jackson “Jiant” Carman. Is he still a Buckeye in your book? And when does he commit, if so? - TroyBuckeyeFan22

This summer and into the early fall, I thought there was a real possibility Ohio State would watch as Carman — the state's top-rated prospect — chose to play his college ball far from home. After all, he'd gone out of his way numerous times to point out his commitment wasn't a sure thing for the Buckeyes.

Add in the tweets advocating for a change at the quarterback position following Ohio State's loss to Oklahoma and the subsequent spat with former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, the idea didn't seem so far-fetched.

But as the season wore on, Carman seemingly returned to campus every chance he got. He attended wins over Penn State and Michigan State, but interestingly always kept to himself. He never cheered or hung around commits or targets. It seemed like he enjoyed himself, but never wanted to give the impression he was once again leading toward the Buckeyes.

I get it, though, as Carman was bothered early on by the assumption that he was just going to end up at Ohio State because of proximity. He wants to enjoy the recruiting process.

Crunch time is here, however, and Carman plans to announce his college decision later this month and sign with the school of his choice during the Early Signing Period. Ohio State feels confident about its chances, while sources close to both Clemson and USC don't feel the same way they once did. It's understandable, too, seeing as he hasn't been to South Carolina since the spring or Los Angeles since the summer.

Buckeyes offensive line coach Greg Studrawa was in Fairfield to Tuesday morning to meet with Carman, which immediately followed in-home visits with Trojans head coach Clay Helton and an in-school visit with Tigers assistant Robbie Caldwell the day prior. Head coach Urban Meyer is expected to make an in-home visit in the coming weeks, as well.

Carman will be Clemson for an official visit this weekend and then head to USC on the weekend of Dec. 15, after which he'll make his decision. He doesn't have a specific date, but I anticipate he'll choose Ohio State when the time comes. The familiarity with the program, his relationship with Meyer and Studrawa and the Buckeyes' need at the offensive tackle position should win out.

With Brenton Cox's decommitment, who are the targets that will emerge? - Csklarek7

This is an interesting question because the defensive end position was already one of great need for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are set to lose Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes to graduation and Sam Hubbard is likely to head to the NFL, as well.

That leaves only three scholarship defensive ends in Nick Bosa, Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young, which is absolutely less than ideal from a depth perspective, no matter how talented the they all are.

There's no denying that losing Cox hurts, not only because he was an elite talent that the Buckeyes may eventually face in the College Football Playoff, but also because his decision to open things back up seemingly comes at the 11th hour.

New Jersey four-star Jayson Oweh and Cleveland Heights four-star Tyreke Smith were already the staff's top targets, and the hope was that they'd be able to add both during the Under Armour All-America Game. Now there's even more pressure to just that, though it appears the Buckeyes may be on the outside looking in for both.

Sources close to Oweh told me this summer he planned to commit during Friday Night Lights, but opted to hold off to see a few other schools. He's fallen in love with every program he's visited this fall, and whichever schools was the most recent trip — Michigan two weeks ago — seems to be the favorite at that point in time.

Smith, meanwhile, has been leaning toward Penn State since the summer, but sources close to him told me his official visit to Ohio State last month has closed the gap between the two programs. The lack of depth in Columbus has to make playing for the Buckeyes even more enticing.

Of the two, I think there's now a better chance Smith ends up at Ohio State than Oweh.

Other names to keep in mind are New Jersey four-star Tyler Friday, who took an official visit last month. He, too, is considered a Michigan lean, and there's also concern that he may be best suited to play along the offensive line.

UCLA four-star commit Abdul-Malik McClain and Connecticut post-graduate school three-star Casey Rogers will both take official visits this coming weekend. McClain seems likely to stick with the Bruins, while Rogers — a former Syracuse lacrosse commit — was born in Columbus and would love to follow in Hubbard's footsteps, seeing as he was once a Notre Dame lacrosse pledge.

Alabama has also shown a lot of interest in Rogers, and he'll take an official visit to Tuscaloosa next weekend. If the Buckeyes offer, I think they'll be hard to beat, though.

Local prospects Christopher Oats and Malik Vann are also intriguing options. I've always believed Oats, a four-star hybrid linebacker from Cincinnati Winton Woods, could find his way into the class if he waited long enough to make a decision. He's built more so like a linebacker, but has the frame to bulk up and play defensive end.

Maybe Cox's decommitment opens that door.

Vann, meanwhile, is a four-star defensive end from Fairfield — and teammate of the aforementioned Carman. He committed to Cincinnati over perceived favorite Michigan State this summer, thanks to a tremendous recruiting effort from Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell. I think it would be hard for him to turn down the Buckeyes if they came calling, though.

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