A late addition is looking more and more likely.
In-state recruiting is a different animal for the Ohio State staff as they have to be a bit more meticulous when it comes to extending offers. It's certainly no surprise given their roots and proximity to home, but prospects from the Buckeye State may wish to hop on board immediately or shortly after receiving the coveted offer.
Sometimes these recruitments are fairly cut-and-dried while other times – for one reason or another – things don't work out for the school or the prospect.
For the last several months, it's looked as though the recruitment of four-star linebacker Christopher Oats was going to fall into the latter category. But things may very well be back on track for both parties.
Back in June of 2016, the Buckeyes were understandably still in the way early stages of the evaluation process. At that point in time, only three Ohioans had been offered: Jackson Carman, Jaelen Gill, and L'Christian "Blue" Smith. June turned out to be a big month for Ohio State, however, as two of the state's top linebackers would also enter the fray.
Cincinnati's Christopher Oats and Toledo's Dallas Gant both earned offers following their performances at one of the many camp settings. The Buckeyes fought off Notre Dame and Michigan and secured a commitment from Gant last May. He made things official during last month's early signing period and started classes this semester. The Oats recruitment has certainly seen its ups and downs, however.
A standout at Winton Woods High School, many believed the four-star would jump at the Ohio State offer in no time. Michigan State, Nebraska, and Oklahoma were also involved in the early stages, but overall this recruitment has been a bit slower than most. Unlike many Ohioans, Oats grew up following a number of different teams – including Florida State and USC – so perhaps he never really was in a hurry to make a decision.
The Buckeyes have already signed Teradja Mitchell, K'Vaughan Pope, and the aforementioned Dallas Gant. The staff is still recruiting California's Solomon Tuliaupupu, and while he is planning on making an official visit, most believe he ends up staying out west.
With Gant already on campus and the others slated to arrive this summer, it was looking more and more like Oats would end up elsewhere. He was planning an official visit during the season, but a date with the ACT prevented that from happening. Meanwhile schools like Ole Miss, Michigan State, and Kentucky have remained very much in the hunt. Up until a recent wave of Buckeye picks, the crystal ball had been heavily in favor of Oats ending up in Lexington.
Checking in at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, there has been some chatter about him possibly being more of a pass rusher at the next level. Regardless of how the Buckeyes view the state's No. 12 prospect, things are once again heating up. Earlier this week 247 Sports recruiting analyst Bill Greene reported that Oats will make an official visit to Ohio State, and it will likely take place the weekend of Feb. 2; which is just days before signing day.
The Ohio State staff doesn't usually mess around with in-state talent. If someone is coming in for an official visit – especially this late in the process – then there's likely a pretty good reason behind it. There isn't necessarily a huge need at linebacker right now, but Oats has a tremendous frame and may be too good to pass up now that the numbers crunch appears to be working itself out.
I'm of the opinion that this is exactly what he has been waiting for. Most of the other programs have come and gone, but the Wildcats are still pushing hard. Vince Marrow has done a respectable job recruiting the state of Ohio, but Oats has been more than willing to wait things out; perhaps for a certain opportunity to arise.
Similar to Thayer Munford from a year ago, Christopher Oats looks to be the last potential in-state addition for the 2018 recruiting haul. Things will have to be monitored over the next few weeks, but if he steps foot on campus for an official visit, then his patience will have paid off and it may be wise to pencil him into the class.
And the wait will certainly have been worth it for the Cincinnati native.