Ohio State currently has 19 commitments in its top-ranked 2018 recruiting class. That number will likely end up closer to the 24-25 range and will finish as one of the country's top classes. Three of those 19 players hail from the state of Ohio, but that number is set to increase between now and February's national signing day.
The in-state focus – or lack thereof – has been a bit of a controversial topic of late. Ohio is typically fairly rich in talent but falls a tier below the one that includes Texas, Florida, Georgia, California, and a few other states. The 2017 class ended up with 21 signees with seven coming from the Buckeye State. Looking back to 2016 and one will see 10 of 25 signees were Ohio natives.
Personally, I'm 100 percent in favor of Urban Meyer's national approach with the necessary dose of Ohio flavor sprinkled in; with that dosage varying each year depending on the state's talent pool. Some people feel the number of in-state signees should approach double digits every cycle, but that's just a silly premise if you ask me.
Regardless of your stance, there are still a handful of prospects in the state of Ohio who could help to finish off the Class of 2018.
Jackson Carman • Offensive Tackle • ★★★★★ • Fairfield
We've been talking about Jackson Carman for a long while now. In fact, today marks the two-year anniversary of Urban Meyer extending an offer to the state's top prospect. His recruitment is set to reach its conclusion next week when he takes advantage of the new early signing period. If you've been keeping up on this site, then you know that we've never questioned his ultimate destination.
He's flirted with Clemson – and was in town last weekend for an official visit – and is scheduled to check out USC this weekend, but all signs continue to point to the Buckeyes signing the country's No. 1 tackle prospect. Generally it can be a bit concerning for a player to take an official visit elsewhere only to announce a few days later. We aren't expecting that to be the case with this one at all, however.
Tyreke Smith • Defensive End • ★★★★ • Cleveland (Heights)
Ohio State's defensive end recruiting hasn't been the easiest thing to keep up with. Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes need to replenish along the line, but they currently have no one committed on the edge thanks to last week's decommitment from five-star Brenton Cox. Signing at least two – and ideally three – defensive ends may be the staff's biggest chore between now and February.
The loss of Cox makes the pursuit of Cleveland's Tyreke Smith that much more important. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they've likely still got a lot of ground to make up on the Nittany Lions. James Franklin and the Penn State staff got involved early on, and that relationship has only strengthened over the last year or so.
Smith is coming off of his official visit to Happy Valley, and the Buckeyes will need to work some magic if they hope to land the state's No. 3 prospect. The 6-foot-3, 260-pounder is scheduled to announce his commitment on Jan. 4 at the Under Armour All-America Game.
Christopher Oats • Outside Linebacker • ★★★★ • Cincinnati (Winton Woods)
The recruitment of Cincinnati's Christopher Oats has also been difficult to get a read on. The Buckeyes offered early on in the process, but it's been clear for the last several months that the coaching staff's focus has been elsewhere. Oats has been courted by schools like Michigan State, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. However, it's tough to imagine the four-star ending up outside of Columbus if the Buckeyes elect to push.
Ohio State already has three linebackers in the fold and the staff is continuing its push for five-star USC commit Palaie Gaoteote and four-star Solomon Tuliaupupu. Oats is a bit of a different player, however, as he may very well grow into more of a pass rusher. Depending on how things pan out with Tyreke Smith and Jayson Oweh, then the state's No. 12 player just may find himself a spot in Ohio State's 2018 class.
His crystal ball is all over the place, and the good news for the Buckeyes is that they have time to get things figured out. Oats is not expected to announce a decision until February's national signing day.
Alex Williams • Defensive End • ★★★ • Pickerington (North)
We've recently begun discussing some other defensive end targets, and Alex Williams is a player that has surfaced. Last year it was Massillon's Thayer Munford whose name came up late in the process, and he helped to fill a need at tackle when he announced for the Buckeyes on signing day. Could Williams – a three-star from Pickerington's North High School – take a similar path?
At 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, there's no question that he looks the part of a college defensive lineman. Williams has been committed to West Virginia since May, and he's really done nothing to indicate that his pledge is anything but solid. He's a Columbus kid, though, so one has to think the Buckeyes would have a chance to shake things up a bit if an offer were to head his way.
The list of the state's top players doesn't produce many other viable options. The Buckeyes already have the nation's top tight end in Lindenhust, New York's Jeremy Ruckert, and they've yet to make a move on four-star Trenton Gillison. The Pickerington (Central) product has been committed to Michigan State since January, but maybe the news of Kierre Hawkins' departure changes things a bit on Ohio State's end?
Staying with Pickerington Central, Xavier Henderson is another player that many (myself included) thought Ohio State could make a run at, but there's still not an offer on the table for the defensive back. The four-star had an impressive season, and he too has been a Spartan pledge for some time now. The odds of the Buckeyes making a run at either one of the local duo seem unlikely at this point.
Right now it's looking as though the 2018 class will feature five Ohioans. Jaelen Gill, Dallas Gant, L'Christian Smith, Jackson Carman, and perhaps Christopher Oats. But it's never a bad idea to expect the unexpected as signing day draws near.