Ohio State just put the finishing touches on the best recruiting class in program history, but the staff can’t afford to rest on their laurels if the Buckeyes are going to bring on another elite class in 2019.
“[We’ll] toast tonight and move on to next year's class,” head coach Urban Meyer said on National Signing Day when asked about how the Buckeyes would celebrate their second-ranked haul. “That's about all you do.”
Ohio State holds only one commitment at the moment in West Virginia four-star offensive tackle Doug Nester, who pledged his services to the staff in early August. It’s a far cry from Georgia’s top-ranked haul, as the Bulldogs already have seven pledges. But with 2018 now in the rear view mirror, the Buckeyes will surely turn up the heat on the current class sooner rather than later.
So, who are some of Ohio State's top targets for the Class of 2019? While it’s still too early to project the number of players the Buckeyes will add this cycle — especially considering they’re already four over the NCAA-mandated scholarship limit and a number of players will declare for the NFL Draft or leave the program unexpectedly by the time National Signing Day rolls around next year — we’ve broken it down by top targets at each position instead.
So without further ado...
TEXAS FOUR-STAR GRANT TISDALE
After all of the drama last cycle surrounding Emory Jones' recruitment, Ohio State is taking its time in finding a quarterback to lead the 2019 recruiting class.
Tisdale was stellar in his only season as a starter and loves everything the Buckeyes have to offer, but he's not planning to make a decision until the summer. His official visit in the spring will give us a better indication of where things stand between the two sides.
IMG ACADEMY FIVE-STAR NOAH CAIN
Ohio State signed three running backs this cycle, so a loaded depth chart — that would still include J.K. Dobbins — might be a cause for concern for top prospects.
Cain is talented and confident enough to feel as if he can win the job as a true freshman. He's one of the most sought-after players in the country, though, so the Buckeyes will have to compete with the home-state Longhorns (he transferred to IMG last summer) and a host of other elite programs in order to land his pledge.
TEXAS FIVE-STAR THEO WEASE JR.
With six returning starters, playing time won't come easy for Ohio State's four incoming freshmen wide receivers. But with the potential for a mass exodus to the National Football League one year from now, the Buckeyes will have to stock up at the position once again in 2019.
Connections could play a key role at the position, as Wease is the teammate of the aforementioned Tisdale and Lake Travis four-star Garrett Wilson — a Dublin, Ohio, native — is the former teammate of quarterback signee Matthew Baldwin. It would be cool to see those connections continue at the next level
FLORIDA FOUR-STAR KEON ZIPPERER
After landing the nation's top-ranked tight end last cycle in four-star Jeremy Ruckert, tight end isn't really a priority in 2019. And while I expect him to start as a true freshman, Ohio State will likely sign at least one player at the position in hopes of providing depth moving forward.
Four-star Ryland Goede should be at the top of the list, but he's a life-long Georgia fan and pledged his services to the Bulldogs earlier this week. A recent offer went out to Arkansas legacy Hudson Henry, but he's certain to end up with the Razorbacks, so that leaves Zipperer as the highest-rated tight end with an offer.
WEST VIRGINIA FIVE-STAR DARNELL WRIGHT
Even after landing commitment on National Signing Day from five-star Nicholas Petit-Frere, the overall lack of depth at the offensive tackle position remains an issue for Ohio State. There's no doubt addressing that issue is the staff's highest priority.
With the above-mentioned Nester in the fold, the Buckeyes are off to a strong start. Pairing him with a fellow West Virginian in Wright — who has been to campus numerous times and become close with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa — and Mentor four-star Ryan Jacoby would make for a stellar haul.
OLENTANGY ORANGE FIVE-STAR END ZACH HARRISON
Harrison is without a doubt Ohio State's top target for the 2019 recruiting cycle, as he's not only one of the best prospects in the country, but plays a position of great need and lives right up the Olentangy River from campus.
If you're afraid all of that too closely resembles the recruitment of Fairfield five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman from one year ago, don't be.
Harrison more closely resembles Petit-Frere in that he wants to thoroughly evaluate everything and take his time with a decision. And unlike Carman, he also doesn't take issue with fans assuming he's going to end up with the Buckeyes.
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH: Mentor four-star end Noah Potter, Cincinnati Walnut Hills four-star tackle Jowon Briggs, Virginia four-star end Brandon Smith, Tennessee four-star end Ani Izuchukwu and Kansas four-star end Marcus Hicks
LEXINGTON FOUR-STAR CADE STOVER
Every time Stover steps on campus, there’s a great chance he commits to Ohio State. After all, the Buckeyes are without a doubt the established leader in his recruitment.
Much like Harrison, though, Stover has repeatedly said he wants to enjoy the process and not rush into a decision. He’ll take a few official visits this spring — with Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Penn State all pushing hard — but it’s honestly difficult to envision him anywhere other than Columbus when it’s all said and done.
OKLAHOMA FIVE-STAR SAFETY DAXTON HILL
One year after going into Oklahoma for the first time in program history and stealing four-star safety Josh Proctor from under the Sooners' nose, Ohio State is looking to do the same with Hill.
His position on this list might come as a surprise, but Hill is built in a similar mold and has the exact same game-breaking ability as Proctor. In fact, they were both named first-team all-state last season.
Hill has never been to campus, though he's planning an official visit for the spring. If he chooses to visit for the Spring Game, for example, it's not hard to envision him getting wrapped up in the atmosphere and making the call that weekend. Sound familiar?
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH: Virginia Beach four-star cornerback Sheridan Jones, Georgia four-star safety Jaylen McCollough, Tennessee four-star corner Woodi Washington, St. Thomas Aquinas four-star Jaden Davis and Pennsylvania three-star M.J. Devonshire
NEW JERSEY FOUR-STAR “ROCKET” RONNIE HICKMAN
Though he's listed as an athlete by the various recruiting services, Ohio State is recruiting Hickman as a safety. He's been to campus five times in the last year and has grown a strong bond with defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano in that time.
Another trip to campus, quite possibly for the Spring Game in April, could end his recruitment altogether.