11W Recruiting Mailbag: Likelihood of Ohio State Missing Out on State's Top-Rated Prospect Again, Potential Pipeline Programs and In-State Offers

By Andrew Lind on February 24, 2018 at 8:10 am
Zach Harrison

Zach Harrison


The 11W Recruiting Mailbag is your one-stop shop for all things Ohio State recruiting. You have questions. We have answers.

I keep hearing that Ohio State could miss out on Olentangy Orange five-star defensive end Zach Harrison. Is that a real possibility? - Buckinpa

After what transpired with Fairfield five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman last cycle, I understand your fears of the Buckeyes missing out on the top-rated player in the state for the second-consecutive year. 

Much like Carman, everyone assumes Harrison will end up at Ohio State. After all, he plays a position of great need and the Buckeyes don’t typically miss out on in-state prospects they truly want. But Carman was different and embraced the idea of leaving the state to play his college ball. He also took issue with those who believed he was a sure thing for Ohio State. 

Carman ultimately choosing Clemson was something that reflected his unconventional personality rather than something that should be viewed as a trend. Yet here we are, wondering if Harrison will forge his own path simply because he hasn’t committed yet. 

The similarities end once you’re done discussing their lofty rankings and status as one of the county’s most sought-after prospects, though.

Whereas Carman was outspoken and preferred the spotlight, Harrison keeps to himself and would prefer to go about his business without the attention. He doesn’t openly discuss his desire to step outside of his comfort zone like Carman did, but rather drops by the Woody Hayes Athletic Center unannounced to watch practice or meet with coaches and players whenever he feels like it. 

Despite offers from seemingly every other program in the country, Harrison’s best relationship is with head coach Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson. And that alone should be enough for the Buckeyes to solidify his pledge, let alone the fact that he lives only 15 minutes away. 

My advice? Just be patient. 

Where do you see Ohio State’s next “pipeline” high school? - Osubuck57

Florida’s IMG Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas have both supplied the Buckeyes with a handful of elite prospects over the last few years, and the staff will certainly continue to recruit those powerhouse programs heavily into the future. 

The Ascenders continue to collect talent from all over the country, as prospects look to bridge the gap between high school and college by playing a national schedule and practicing against other four- and five-star talents every day. The Raiders, meanwhile, reload every year thanks to transfers from all over talent-rich South Florida. 

But all that said, I’m instead going to take a look at a few other lesser-known programs — at least to Ohio State fans — that could develop into crucial pipelines for the Buckeyes in the future.

DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Maryland)

The aforementioned Johnson has strong ties to the region thanks to his time as a high school coach there, which is why one of his main recruiting responsibilities is the Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area.

He played a significant role in Ohio State landing former five-star defensive end Chase Young out of DeMatha in 2017, and he continues to make his presence felt at the school with offers out right now to several Stags, including four-star running backs DeMarcco Hellams and Marshawn Lloyd and four-star safety Nick Cross

DeMatha has won four of the last five Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships. 

St. Frances Academy (Baltimore, Maryland)

Similarly, Johnson — who I’d argue is Ohio State’s best recruiter despite his recent 25th-place finish in the 247Sports rankings — has made quite the impression with top prospects at St. Frances Academy. 

The Panthers went winless in conference play just three seasons ago, but have won two-straight state titles after a slew of transfers followed co-head coach Biff Poggi from powerhouse Gilman — though he had a brief one-year stint at Michigan in between. That includes four-star linebacker Shane Lee, four-star offensive tackle Darrian Dalcourt and three-star running back Joachim Bangda, all of which hold offers from the Buckeyes.

Three-star quarterback Jalon Jones will visit campus next weekend, and I anticipate the staff will extend an offer to him at that time, as well. 

Allen (Texas)

If it were up to me, Ohio State’s search for a quarterback this cycle would end in Allen with four-star Grant Tisdale, who led the Eagles to their fifth state championship this past season. He excels in the read-option scheme the Buckeyes have run under Meyer, and he’s been called a faster version of J.T. Barrett.

If Ohio State ultimately chooses to go with a dual-threat quarterback rather than a pocket passer with functional mobility, I think Tisdale will be the guy. If that happens, he’ll certainly want to play alongside his teammate, five-star wide receiver Theo Wease Jr. He’s currently trending toward Texas A&M, but a decision to move forward with Tisdale could quickly change the tide or allow the Buckeyes to work on a flip later in the process if he were to commit to the Aggies in the coming months. 

Allen also has some talent in the trenches in the form of four-star offensive guard E.J. Ndoma-Ogar and three-star defensive tackle Jayden Jernigan who could be players to keep an eye on, though neither holds an offer from Ohio State at this point in time. 

Lake Travis (Austin, Texas)

One of the few Texas high school football programs more decorated than Allen is Lake Travis, which has six state titles to its name. And if it weren’t for Ohio State quarterback Matthew Baldwin going down in the first series of the championship game against the above-mentioned Eagles with a leg injury, the Cavaliers may have added another star to their helmet logo last season. 

Baldwin was the first step in the Buckeyes establishing a pipeline to this powerhouse program, which is just a stone’s skip down the Colorado River from the University of Texas. The next target is his go-to receiver, four-star Garrett Wilson. The two hooked up on 98 passes for 1,774 yards and 26 touchdowns last season and would love to keep that connection going in Columbus. 

“He makes me look better, so I'm going to strongly recruit him,” Baldwin told Eleven Warriors last month.

One thing working in Ohio State’s favor, too, is that Wilson is originally from Dublin. He moved to Texas in the sixth grade, but grew up attending games in Ohio Stadium. 

Another name to keep in mind moving forward is sophomore athlete Hudson Card, though he doesn’t yet hold an offer from the Buckeyes. He was another one of Baldwin’s top targets at wide receiver, but filled in admirably behind center during the title game.

Name five low-flying in-state kids that you think could blow up on the summer camp circuit and get an offer from Ohio State? - IowaBuckeyes

It certainly feels as if there is more talent locally this year than in years past, especially with Harrison leading the charge as the nation’s top-ranked player (according to 247Sports). And that’s certainly a welcome sight to those who believe the Buckeyes aren’t recruiting the state hard enough or aren’t necessarily a fan of Meyer’s national approach. 

In my way-too-early class projections — which were published a little over one week ago — I actually listed eight in-state prospects, three of which I expect to land an offer during camp sessions or with a strong senior season. They include:

All three have been to campus numerous times and it feels as if the staff is simply holding off on offering because they know they’re more likely to commit on the spot.

Ohio State also continues to build a strong relationship with Springfield four-star cornerback Moses Douglass and Westerville Central three-star defensive end Dontay Hunter II, and I expect both will be regular visitors this summer and fall. So there’s five.

Other names that I considered for this list include Columbus St. Francis DeSales four-star defensive tackle Rodas Johnson, Columbus Northland three-star running back John Branham Jr., Youngstown Cardinal Mooney three-star linebacker Luke Fulton and Pickerington Central three-star defensive tackle DeWayne Carter Jr.

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