Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State landed a commitment from one of the nation's top-rated underclassmen when Marietta, Georgia, four-star offensive tackle Jake Wray pledged his services to the Buckeyes.
Let's take a look at what Wray — the No. 91 prospect overall in the Class of 2020 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
Much like his older brother — Ohio State freshman offensive tackle Max — the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Wray has tremendous size and strength.
That, plus his explosiveness off the snap of the ball, makes him an excellent run-blocker. His overall agility and athleticism help him get to the next level with relative ease, as well.
The Wray’s played their high school ball together at Franklin, Tennessee, where they bookended an offensive line that put up nearly 300 yards rushing per game two season ago. But following a tumultuous 2017 campaign, Jake transferred to Marietta this offseason.
The Rebels were in the midst of a 1-7 start when it was reported the the Wrays were suspended and removed from Franklin football program with just two games left in the season. This came just days after their parents had voiced concerns over the Rebels' coaching staff’s decision to conceal injuries — including a concussions that Jake suffered earlier in the year.
"The Wray family has done everything we can do to prevent this difficult situation. We have no choice, at this time, but to defend our children’s reputation," Wray’s father, Sam, told Eleven Warriors last October. "This situation arose because we, as a family, became increasingly concerned that the coaching staff has created an environment in which players’ health and safety is not the first priority. We expressed to the school administration our concern that the culture was creating a perverse incentive for players to conceal injuries, including — in particular — concussions.”
Max, of course, graduated and just completed his first spring practice in Columbus. And now Jake joins a program that will better prepare him for the next level, but more on that in a minute.
IN THE CLASS
Wray becomes the first member of Ohio State’s yet-to-be-named 2020 recruiting class. For comparison’s sake, the Buckeyes didn’t add their first commitment from the current class until last August.
Offensive line remains a top priority for the staff this cycle, so Wray’s pledge won’t impact commitments from West Virginia four-star tackle Doug Nester or Mentor three-star Ryan Jacoby. It also won’t play any role in their pursuit of other linemen such as Minnesota’s Quinn Carroll, Michigan’s Devontae Dobbs, Pennsylvania’s Andrew Kristofic, Rhode Island’s Xavier Truss and/or West Virginia’s Darnell Wright.
Wray’s commitment only solidifies the position a bit moving forward, and also gives the Buckeyes’ class a leader who has an opportunity to recruit at one of the nation’s top high school programs.
Ohio State is currently among the top schools for Marietta four-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton, who plans to take an official visit this fall. And in addition to Wray, the Blue Devils have three rising juniors among the Top 100 prospects in the Class of 2020, including four-star quarterback Harrison Bailey and four-star defensive ends Arik Gilbert and B.J. Ojulari.
Only Gilbert and Harrison hold an offer from the Buckeyes at this point in time, but you can bet Wray will be also touting Ojulari’s talents after they go head-to-head in practice every day this fall.
With all that said, Ohio State could be breaking in four new starters along the offensive line during the 2019 season. The need for elite talent in the trenches isn’t going to disappear with one class, so the Buckeyes will almost assuredly be in pursuit several others to complement Wray.
Cincinnati St. Xavier four-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. is without a doubt the staff’s top target, while Michigan four-star offensive guard Justin Rogers seems like a shoo-in to join the class sometime this summer.
Shortly after Max committed to Ohio State, a flood of 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions were placed in favor of Ohio State for Jake.
It made a lot of sense, too, given the fact that he also held an offer from and was able to forge a strong relationship with the staff. But with schools from all over the country recruiting him, the younger Wray was quick to point out his pledge wasn’t a sure thing.
"Of course it’s a conversation [we have], since we do it together in high school. It was always a dream for us growing up playing together," he told Eleven Warriors during Friday Night Lights last summer. "[But] all of the coaches I've had in this process have recruited me as me and not as my brother's brother. I really appreciate how Ohio State has done a really good job with that."
Having Max go through the process before him gave Jake someone to rely upon for guidance. It also gave him a bit of a head start in his own recruitment, as he two traveled with their parents, Sam and Stacy, to check out schools like Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Texas — just to name a few.
"He's always going to be there to help me out,” Wray said. “He's taught me, if you find the right place, make sure [the players] like playing for the coaches, it's a fun atmosphere and it's a place you'd want to come back to if you were in the NFL."
Of course, Jake had to look no farther than Columbus to find just that. And now the Wrays are next up in a long like of brothers to suit up for the Buckeyes under head coach Urban Meyer, including Zach and Jacoby Boren; Joey and Nick Bosa; and Malik and Marcus Hooker.