Finishing Touches: 2018 Recruiting Focus Remains in the Trenches, but a Four-Star Playmaker Has Resurfaced

By Andrew Ellis on January 14, 2018 at 8:30 am
Maurice Washington may be back on Ohio State's radar.
Maurice Washington/Deion Sanders

Crunch time could bring some difficult decisions.

The remaining needs for Ohio State's 2018 recruiting class have been well documented. Urban Meyer and the staff will likely look to bring in another 2-4 signees, and the offensive and defensive lines continue to be the most glaring needs. We are just about three weeks away from the Feb. 7 national signing day, and with the dead period coming to an end on Friday, the rest of the cycle is sure to be filled with twists and turns.

It was a busy week on the trail as the Buckeyes surged in the chase for four-star New Jersey native Tyler Friday and extended a new offer to another Garden State pass rusher. Following the Ohio State offer on Tuesday, Javontae Jean-Baptiste wasted no time getting an official visit set up. He's listed as a linebacker, but at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, the four-star is being looked at as a defensive end. This weekend he's in Lincoln checking out the Frost-led Huskers. Next week will be the Buckeyes' turn.

On the other side of the trenches, Rasheed Walker and Nicholas Petit-Frere remain at the top of the board. Earlier this week, Andrew Lind reported on Walker's official visit plans being finalized as the Buckeyes will look to beat out Penn State for the nation's No. 6 offensive tackle. Petit-Frere seems to be wide open, but Ohio State is slated to gets its shot on Feb. 2. The Fighting Irish were thought to be one of the top contenders, but they recently lost their offensive line coach to the Chicago Bears. 

It's the time of year when the Buckeyes' staff is faced with a number of tough decisions, and this year it may come down to whether or not to bring in a playmaker at a position that has already been addressed. Brian Snead and Master Teague signed in December, so Tony Alford is set to bring in another talented tailback duo. The latter of whom is one of eight early enrollees that have already arrived in Columbus. Westerville's Jaelen Gill – the nation's top-ranked all-purpose back – is expected to fill more of an H-back role.

Needless to say, the Buckeye backfield has already been replenished. 

Back in August, one of the stranger incidents of the recruiting cycle took place when FloFootball reported that four-star tailback Maurice Washington had committed to Ohio State. As we reported back then, a commitment never actually went down and the reporter clearly misunderstood Washington's comments. The commitment tweet and subsequent story have since been deleted. 

Washington then spoke with Andrew Lind and provided some clarity:

“I didn't say that, [the reporter] did,” Washington told Eleven Warriors. “It was just a video of the schools I want to go to. I said the same thing I always say about Ohio State. It's my home, but there's more steps I have to take.”

Maurice Washington is a California native who now resides in Cedar Hill, Texas. He camped at Ohio State back in June and his performance earned him the coveted Buckeye offer. Since that time, we haven't heard a whole lot regarding the two parties outside of the aforementioned incident in August. Most probably had written this one off as Ohio State switched its focus to other needs. 

But something has perhaps changed in the recent weeks. Washington was the star of the show at the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, and on one of high school football's biggest stages, he took home MVP honors after recording over 150 all-purpose yards and three scores.

He scored 29 touchdowns as a sophomore in San Jose but was deemed ineligible for his junior season due to transfer rules. Following a rough junior year, he bounced back nicely in 2017. Washington totaled nearly 2,000 all-purpose yards, averaged 15 yards per touch, and found the end zone 27 times. The 6-foot-1 tailback was around 175 pounds last summer, but he's bulked up to 190 and schools like Tennessee, Nebraska, and Ole Miss are hot on the trail.

His senior highlight film leaves no doubt as to why he's such a hot commodity.

Ohio State was a serious contender early on, and even with only a few spots left in the 2018 class, it appears that the Buckeyes may be at least sniffing around again. Allen Trieu – a national recruiting analyst for 247 Sports – broke the news that Urban Meyer is expected to stop by the school next week and check in with Washington.  

We'll have to wait a bit and see if this visit does go down. But if it does, then it will be interesting to see what comes of it. Could the Buckeyes take a look at Washington as an athlete who's too talented to turn down? Perhaps a slot receiver or another potential H-back? 

With several offensive playmakers already signed, adding another one may end up being too much of a good thing—especially with more pressing needs elsewhere. Regardless, the potential development adds yet another storyline to be on the lookout for as the Buckeyes look to put the finishing touches on the Class of 2018.

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