Ohio State's 2019 Quarterback Recruiting Still Lacking Clarity As Summer Draws Near

By Andrew Ellis on May 13, 2018 at 8:30 am
Ryan Day and Urban Meyer are still looking for their guy for the Class of 2019.

It's been a busy few weeks as it pertains to the most important position on the field. Joe Burrow's decision to leave Ohio State was not only headline news in Columbus, but it's also the biggest national storyline in college football. 

Urban Meyer and Ryan Day still have a strong quarterback room, but there's not a whole lot of experience at the position. Dwayne Haskins flashed at times in 2017 and the expectations are sky high for the redshirt sophomore. Tate Martell impressed with his legs in last month's spring game. And newcomer Matthew Baldwin is still bouncing back from surgery to repair a torn ACL.

There's been no shortage of talent at the position of late, and that's to be expected given Meyer's recruiting prowess. For the class of 2019, however, the Buckeyes are still looking to get their guy at quarterback. 

When looking at the top players in the class, there may be reason for a bit of concern. We are seven months from the early signing period and nine months from February's national signing day. At this point, 15 of the country's top-20 quarterback prospects are already off the board.

The expectation is usually that a team will take one quarterback per class, and that's generally the blueprint that Ohio State has followed. Teams like Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, Auburn, and Clemson all have secured commitments from a top-20 signal-caller, so the pickings are getting a bit slim.

Recently, the Buckeyes have extended a few new offers and that has some questioning where things stand at the position. Ohio State's board may still undergo some changes, but right now four of the five names on our list are already committed to other schools.

Grant Gunnell Uncommitted Houston, Texas 6-foot-6, 222 pounds No. 3 (Pro) No. 96
Graham Mertz Wisconsin Commit Mission, Kansas 6-foot-3, 205 pounds No. 5 (Pro) No. 148
Ryan Hilinski South Carolina Commit Orange, California 6-foot-4, 222 pounds No. 6 (Pro) No. 166
Dwan Mathis Michigan State Commit Belleville, Michigan 6-foot-5, 195 pounds No. 11 (Pro) No. 263
Jalon Jones Florida Commit Baltimore, Maryland 6-foot-3, 205 pounds No. 10 (Dual) No. 344

There's a lot of uncertainty at the position right now, but I think if there's one thing that most can agree on it's probably that Grant Gunnell is the top target on the board. He's currently uncommitted and has already taken his official visit to Ohio State. A decision is expected this summer, but it's hardly a done deal to the good guys. 

A former Texas A&M commit, Gunnell definitely has a connection with Kevin Sumlin, and that connection has helped Arizona emerge as one of the biggest threats in the recruitment. The crystal ball still favors the Buckeyes, but I'd say confidence isn't as high today as it was a few weeks back. 

Graham Mertz is another player that the staff seems to be enamored with. Mertz has been committed to Wisconsin since October, but schools like Ohio State and Notre Dame remain firmly in the mix. Checking in as the No. 1 player in Kansas, Mertz was in Columbus last week and one has to think the Buckeyes will push for an official as well.

He's way up on Ohio State's board and actually may be neck and neck with Gunnell, but Mertz is likely the top target for the Fighting Irish as well. For now, he seems fairly solid to the Badgers, but this one is far from over.

South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski is a fairly new name as the four-star just received an Ohio State offer on Thursday. It's probably way too early to get excited over this one just yet, but it's at least worth keeping an eye on. The California native threw for nearly 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2017. He added another six scores with his legs. 

Dwan Mathis is a player that I fully expected Ohio State to offer some time ago. In fact, I thought there was a chance he'd be offered last year at Friday Night Lights and could potentially commit shortly thereafter. None of that happened, however, and Mathis ended up pledging to Michigan State this past September. 

The Buckeyes finally extended an offer earlier this month and Mathis did stop by Columbus with a few of his teammates. The four-star is saying all the right things in terms of his standing with the Spartans, but we'll see if the Ohio State staff elects to push. 

I was hesitant to include Jalon Jones on this list, but the Gator commit is someone that I think the Buckeyes' staff is at least keeping tabs on. Ohio State offered in March and the Baltimore signal-caller committed to the Gators about a month later.

Jones has stated that he's solid with Florida and that his recruitment is over with, but he's also told some reporters that the Buckeyes are still coming at him pretty hard. Jones is the country's No. 10 dual-threat. 

Ohio State needs to and will sign a quarterback in this class. The position really is tough to get a feel for right now, and I think that reasoning is two-fold.

First, it really is a weak quarterback class and there simply aren't a lot of elite prospects this year. Auburn legacy Bo Nix was the staff's top player at the position, but that one just wasn't going to happen.

Secondly, the staff seems especially high on 2020 quarterback Jack Miller, and he could be off the board in the near future. I imagine it only makes things that much more difficult when there's a 2020 prospect you especially love all the while trying to hone in on some 2019 players who may not be viewed in that same tier. 

Right now our best guess would still bet that Grant Gunnell winds up as Ohio State's guy for 2019, but there are a lot of moving parts with that recruitment and it's been especially tough to keep up with. 

If Gunnell were to commit to Arizona, LSU, or another program this summer, then the Ohio State staff would to have decide if they want to go all in on another one of the aforementioned names or wait for new targets to emerge; much like Matthew Baldwin did last fall. 

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