The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers, as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
When Fairfield five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman chose Clemson over Ohio State during the Early Signing Period, many wondered how the Buckeyes would overcome arguably the biggest recruiting loss of Urban Meyer's six-year tenure.
After all, Carman was widely considered the top-rated player in the state and plays at a position of great need.
But Meyer — who is known for his ability to close the deal with top prospects heading into National Signing Day — simply responded by landing a commitment on Wednesday morning from Tampa Berkeley Prep five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere, which puts the finishing touches on the best recruiting class in program history.
The Petit-Frere File
- Class: 2018
- Size: 6-foot-6, 272 pounds
- Pos: OT
- School: Berkeley Prep (Tampa, FL)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★★
- Composite Rank: 1 (OT)
The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Petit-Frere — which is pronounced “peh-tee freh-rare” and means “little brother” in French — is considered the top-rated offensive tackle and No. 7 prospect overall in the Class of 2018. He picked Ohio State over finalists Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame.
The Buckeyes were among the first programs to offer Petit-Frere a scholarship in February 2016, thanks in large part to defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano's strong ties at Berkeley Prep — his sons attended the school when he was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made trips to Columbus over the next two summers, but put his recruitment on hold during the school year as he focused on his academics and play on the field.
Petit-Frere finally began to take official visits once his senior season concluded, but only the Fighting Irish and Wolverines received game-day visits. Luckily for Ohio State, he was on hand for the 31-20 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Few believed the Buckeyes had a chance in Petit-Frere's recruitment at that time, as they already held a commitment from Tennessee four-star offensive tackle Max Wray and were the odds-on favorite to land Carman. But when Carman pledged his services to the Tigers, Petit-Frere instantly became priority No. 1.
Schiano and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa wasted no time in seeing Petit-Frere as soon as the recruiting dead period came to a close in mid-January, at which time they convinced him to take an official visit. He lined up trips to Columbus, Gainesville and Tuscaloosa over the next three weekends, with Ohio State set to have the final visit before National Signing Day.
The Gators emerged as the favorite in Petit-Frere's recruitment in recent weeks thanks to proximity, but Berkeley Prep head coach Dominick Ciao told Eleven Warriors the Buckeyes hit this past weekend's official visit — which included a one-on-one sit down with Schiano — out of the park.
Reports surfaced late last week connecting Schiano to the New England Patriots' now-vacant defensive coordinator position, and Petit-Frere and his mother, Loris, were concerned with his potential departure. He did his best to explain to them the sign of a strong, healthy program is assistants moving on to bigger and better jobs and gave a ringing endorsement of what the program and university offers on and off the field.
If Schiano does accept the job in the coming days or weeks, you can consider Petit-Frere — who becomes the 25th member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class — one heck of a parting gift.
UPDATE (11:05 a.m.): Greg Schiano is staying at Ohio State.