Heat Check: April Official Visits and the Commitment from a Top Target Bring Changes to the 2019 Recruiting Board

By Andrew Ellis on April 3, 2018 at 2:30 pm
Quarterback Grant Gunnell makes his debut on our 2019 recruiting board.

Recruiting is all about momentum. Sometimes you're gaining it, sometimes you're losing it. What prospects are trending up with Ohio State? Let's take a look.

It was a big month of March for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff. The Buckeyes now have three commitments for the Class of 2019 as a pair of targets hopped on board last month.

Three-star Mentor offensive tackle Ryan Jacoby committed on March 1st, and then four-star tailback Sampson James – who was No. 7 on our initial recruiting board – made things official a few weeks later. Ohio State is up to No. 22 in the team rankings, and that's obviously going to change a lot in the coming weeks and months.

The new recruiting rules mean that official visits will be starting up this month, and the annual spring game will now be even more important for the Buckeye recruiting efforts. The quarterback situation is starting to come together, and Ohio State may have its signal caller before the end of spring.

There's a lot to be on the lookout for as we take an updated look at the 2019 recruiting board.

ZACH HARRISON DE 1 1 ★★★★★ Penn State•Notre Dame•Michigan
DARNELL WRIGHT OT 2 2 ★★★★★ Alabama•Clemson•Tennessee•Georgia
CADE STOVER OLB/DE 3 3 ★★★★ Notre Dame•Penn State
HARRY MILLER OL 4 4 ★★★★ Stanford•Notre Dame•Georgia
GARRETT WILSON WR 5 10 ★★★★ Texas
RONNIE HICKMAN ATH 6 5 ★★★★ Penn State•Michigan•Virginia Tech
GRANT GUNNELL QB 7 NA ★★★★ Oregon•TAMU•Oklahoma State•LSU
DEVYN FORD RB 8 NA ★★★★ Virginia Tech•Clemson•Penn State
DEVONTAE DOBBS OL 9 9 ★★★★★ Michigan State•Georgia•Michigan
SHERIDAN JONES CB 10 11 ★★★★ Alabama•Clemson•VT•Penn State
NOAH CAIN RB 11 6 ★★★★ Texas•Miami•LSU

*Last month's version can be found HERE.

Zach Harrison just finished up a bit of a southern tour as the five-star checked out Clemson and Georgia. The state's top player is certainly fine with taking visits, and while that may seem similar to what Jackson Carman was doing a year ago, the two really aren't a whole lot alike.

Carman seemed to bask in the recruiting process and didn't make a decision until December. Harrison, on the other hand, appears on track for an earlier decision and really isn't a fan of the hoopla that goes into being one of the country's top players. His recruitment should come down to the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions. 

There's not a whole lot to report on the No. 2 player on our board. Five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright was in Knoxville last week checking out one of the Volunteers' spring practices. Tennessee may have been the leader before the coaching shakeup, and it remains very much in the mix. Wright isn't saying a whole lot right now, but his crystal ball still reads 100 percent in favor of the Buckeyes. They'll look to get him on campus this spring.

It's the same old story with Cade Stover. He's one of Ohio State's top targets. He grew up rooting for the Buckeyes. And it's only a matter of time until this one is all wrapped up. Stover has been busy with basketball and folks in South Bend are trying their damndest, but right now there's no reason for worry on this one.

Offensive line target Harry Miller took home MVP honors for his performance at The Opening Regional in Atlanta. At 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, the Georgia native is able to play a number of spots along the line. He doesn't have a decision timeline just yet, but he's taking officials this month and a decision could come at any time. Stanford may be the stiffest competition, and it's never wise to discount the Cardinal for a kid like Miller.

Devontae Dobbs is the other offensive lineman on the board – holding steady at the No. 9 spot – and the five-star is slated to check out Florida State tomorrow. Ohio State was in a great spot early, but Mark Dantonio likely has the Spartans in the driver's seat right now. There's a long way to go with this one and there are bound to be some twists and turns. Dobbs is another player who could play multiple spots on the line. 

It's becoming more and more clear that Austin, Texas wide receiver Garrett Wilson is Ohio State's top target at the position, and he's shot all the way up to No. 5 on our board. He's also a key target for the Longhorns, though they do already have a pledge from Jordan Whittington, the nation's No. 4 wideout.

Wilson was in Columbus last month and then made the short trip to the Texas campus thereafter. This one truly seems like it could go either way, and both teams will receive official visits for their spring games. The Longhorns will get the last shot on April 21 – and that is always a concern – but the reasoning is likely just due to the scheduling of the spring scrimmage.

His story is fairly well known by now, but Wilson's former quarterback is Ohio State early enrollee Matthew Baldwin. Rated as the No. 6 player at the position, the 6-foot, 185-pounder grew up in Columbus and now resides in Austin. 247Sports Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong tossed in a crystal ball for the Buckeyes just yesterday. One of the two favorites will be getting some good news this spring.

Small heads-up: We've removed Indy wide receiver David Bell from the board for now as his desire to play basketball certainly may complicate things. Purdue has been surging on the crystal ball for that very reason, but the Buckeyes, Irish, and others remain firmly in the mix. The communication with Kevin Wilson is strong, and Bell is expected to make it to Columbus this spring. He may very well resurface in the coming months.

Four-star athlete Ronnie Hickman continues to look like the top athlete on Ohio State's radar. The New Jersey star could play offense or defense in college, but right now the Buckeyes view him as more of a defensive back. The one-time Rutgers lacrosse commit was back in Piscataway over the weekend, but it's still tough to imagine anyone luring him away from Columbus. 

Our initial board didn't include a single quarterback, but I think it's safe to list Houston's Grant Gunnell at this point. The Buckeyes are looking at several signal callers, but it seems as though the 6-foot-6, 220-pounder is at the top of the list. The interest is definitely strong on both sides as the four-star was in town last month and will return this spring. Oklahoma State, Oregon, and LSU are also in the mix. A former Texas A&M commit, Gunnell plans on making a decision before the end of summer. 

The addition of Sampson James means that running back recruiting isn't quite as pressing as it was last month at this time. Still, the Buckeyes are very likely to add another tailback and we've got a pair on the board. 

Devyn Ford is thought to be a heavy Virginia Tech lean, but Ohio State is set to host the nation's No. 6 tailback twice before he announces his decision on May 18th. The staff may very well need to hit multiple grand slams if they hope to keep the Stafford, Virginia star away from the Hokies. Ford has been to Columbus multiple times over the last few years and he'll be in town yet again on April 26th for his final official visit.

IMG Academy's Noah Cain was in town again this past weekend, but we've moved him down a bit on our board. Obviously the addition of Sampson James is part of the reason, but I'm also not sure if the staff is 100 percent sold at this point. He's the country's No. 2 player at the position and LSU, Texas, and Miami are also among the favorites

Cornerback target Sheridan Jones unofficially visited Ohio State this past weekend. The former teammate of Teradja Mitchell came away impressed, and the Buckeyes are likely battling Clemson and Alabama for the nation's No. 17 corner. This position group is still taking shape, but for now we've got Jones as the lead guy on the board.

It's bound to be a busy month thanks to the new recruiting calendar (more info HERE), and the Ohio State spring game should be more of a spectacle than ever before. With top targets like Zach Harrison, Garrett Wilson, and Grant Gunnell all slated to come off the board fairly early, the next few months will be pivotal for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State staff. 

For now, the entire state of Ohio is engulfed in what seems to be a never-ending onslaught of April showers. Let's hope for sunny skies when the April 14th spring game rolls around.

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