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 finally landed a commitment from a quarterback when Oak Park, Michigan, four-star Dwan Mathis flipped his pledge from Michigan State this evening during a surprise official visit for Friday Night Lights.
Let's take a closer look at what Mathis – the No. 251 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 – brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
Though listed as a pro-style quarterback, the 6-foot-5 and 195-pound Mathis is certainly a dual-threat prospect who can beat you with both his arm and his legs.
He has developed over the last few years from an inconsistent but athletic freshman into a polished passer who stands tall in the pocket and reads his progressions, even when things are breaking down around him. Mathis has great touch on his intermediate and deep passes and rarely forces his throws into double coverage. He also anticipates the pass rush well, isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and run whenever the situation dictates and is elusive when he gets into the open field.
“I feel my strength is just making plays and I feel really where I’ve grown is patience in the pocket,” Mathis told The Detroit News last fall. “When I first came to high school I used to rush, tried to get it out quick, but now I learned that if I sit in the pocket and wait, guys will get open.”
Mathis — who led Oak Park to the district championship last season — posted a 4.67-second 40-yard dash, 38-foot power ball toss and a 31.6-inch vertical leap at The Opening Canton Regional back in May. He was one of 24 quarterbacks who participated in the Elite 11 Finals earlier month, but was not among the dozen signal callers invited to The Opening Finals, however.
Mathis is a bit lanky, but has the frame to add 15-20 pounds of muscle with ease once he gets into Ohio State’s strength and nutritional programs. He — like most high school quarterbacks — needs work on keeping his eyes downfield when pressured because he can be a bit erratic when he’s on the run. Mathis can also be too trusting of his pre-snap reads and is sometimes caught off guard when the coverage changes at the snap.
IN THE CLASS
Mathis becomes the 12th member of Ohio State’s Dynasty ‘19 recruiting class, and will likely be the only quarterback the staff takes this cycle.
The Buckeyes had been linked to a number of different signal callers at one time or another throughout the cycle, including Arizona four-star commit Grant Gunnell and Ole Miss four-star pledge Grant Tisdale, but head coach Urban Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day were never quite sold on either prospect.
In fact, as much could be said about this year’s quarterback class as a whole. The staff has repeatedly discussed the lack of depth at the position, and the fact that the top-tier prospects like Mathis, Bo Nix (Auburn) and Graham Mertz (Wisconsin) were committed elsewhere made it much more difficult for the Buckeyes to find their own quarterback this cycle.
Ohio State never really had a chance with Nix — a Tigers legacy — while the staff felt confident in its chances to flip Mertz. He visited campus as a matter of convenience when in town for a camp in May and even considered a return trip for Friday Night Lights, but instead reaffirmed his pledge to the Badgers following an official visit to Madison earlier this month.
With Mertz off the board, Ohio State also kicked the tires on Florida three-star Brian Maurer and invited him to campus for Friday Night Lights. All signs pointed to him being the Buckeyes’ top priority with a strong performance and offer this weekend, but it’s now unlikely the staff pushes for his commitment with Mathis in the fold.
Moving forward, Ohio State will look to take two quarterbacks in next year’s class, with Arizona four-star Jack Miller III the staff’s top target. He’s set to announce his college decision in the next few weeks, and there’s little mystery as to where he’ll end up.
Georgia four-star Harrison Bailey is another other name to keep in mind, though it’s much more likely the staff lands a developmental prospect like Minnesota three-star Jalen Suggs than another elite signal caller like Bailey to fill the other spot.
Also of note, Mathis is the teammate of 2020 five-star offensive guard Justin Rogers. The Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorite in his recruitment, though he recently announced a Top 13 and doesn't plan on making an announcement until Sept. 12 (his birthday) of his senior year.
From the moment Mathis was spotted outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Friday evening, it was clear it was only a matter of time before he flipped his pledge from Michigan State. After all, head coach Mark Dantonio has a strict no-visit policy for his commits.
In fact, you may recall the recruitment of Leipsic three-star offensive tackle Gavin Cupp, who was committed to the Spartans when he attended the Buckeyes’ annual mid-summer recruiting extravaganza in July 2015. He did not inform Dantonio of his intentions to attend Friday Night Lights, so the coach rescinded his scholarship offer the very next day.
Mathis surely understood the possible consequences of his actions, so it's safe to assue he went into the visit with every intention of flipping his pledge.
Cupp, meanwhile, is now a redshirt sophomore at Ohio State. He received an offer from and committed to the Buckeyes less than a week later.