Looming Large: Ohio State's Biggest Recruiting Battles That Could Make or Break the 2019 Class

By Andrew Ellis on October 16, 2018 at 1:15 pm
Five-star defensive end Zach Harrison was back in Ann Arbor last weekend.
Zach Harrison via @BriceMarich

Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class is ranked No. 15 in America. Naturally, some folks are panicking because quite frankly this just isn't what we've grown accustomed to.

I suppose it's worth reiterating that landing – or losing – a single player is never a truly devastating blow to a program. The Buckeyes' class has an abundance of talent already with only Georgia and Alabama having a higher average rating per commitment. The class is sitting at 15 which means there's likely room for another 8-10 before December's early signing period and February's National Signing Day. 

Several new offers have gone out over the last few weeks and plenty will change throughout the fall and winter months, but for now there are a few recruiting battles that are looming a bit larger than the rest.

Zach Harrison • Defensive End • ★★★★★ • Biggest Threat: Michigan

Though Zach Harrison is one of the more introverted player in recent memory, his recruitment is making waves across the Midwest and at the national level. We are't ruling out Penn State for the five-star from Lewis Center, but this one looks to be coming down to the Buckeyes and Wolverines. Unfortunately there's not a whole lot of reason to feel overly optimistic – at least not at the moment – if you're an Ohio State fan.

Harrison is fresh off another trip to Ann Arbor as he got to witness the Michigan's destruction of Wisconsin. He seems to have a great relationship with Wolverine assistant Al Washington and there is a growing confidence among the 2019 Michigan commitments. Larry Johnson also has a tremendous relationship with the local star, and the Buckeyes need to get him back on campus at some point in the coming months. No decision timeline is in place but he is expected to enroll early in January. 

  • Outlook: Concerning

Trevor Keegan • Offensive Tackle • ★★★★ • Biggest Threat: Michigan

One of the biggest remaining needs continues to be at offensive tackle. The Buckeyes are in a great spot already for 2020 with Paris Johnson Jr. and Jake Wray in the fold, but there's still work to be done for the current class. Five-star Darnell Wright remains an option, though the West Virginia native appears to be favoring Alabama and Tennessee right now. 

Crystal Lake, Illinois' Trevor Keegan is probably the top realistic candidate at the moment, but this is another case where the Buckeyes are battling the Wolverines for a priority target. The four-star has already made official visits to Ohio State and Michigan and he's tentatively planning on making trips to Penn State, Georgia, and Clemson as well. The Wolverines are the heavy crystal ball favorite and a decision is scheduled for Dec. 11. 

  • Outlook: Looking Unlikely

Wandale Robinson • Wide Receiver • ★★★★ • Biggest Threat: Kentucky

Four-star athlete Wandale Robinson has been dazzling thus far in his senior season, and the playmaker is unquestionably one of Ohio State's top remaining targets. Robinson made his official visit a little over a week ago and came away with rave reviews from his time in Columbus. Listed as an all-purpose back, he's being recruited as an H-back/slot receiver. 

Ohio State is leading the way on the crystal ball selections, but it wouldn't be wise to overlook the in-state Wildcats. He's been to Lexington multiple time and a solid season has to be helping Mark Stoops' chances a bit. Nebraska and Purdue also remain in the mix. Robinson is scheduled to announce his decision on Nov. 1. 

  • Outlook: A Likely Addition

Peyton Powell • Cornerback • ★★★★ • Biggest Threat: Texas

Four-star Odessa, Texas athlete Peyton Powell has been a top target of Greg Schiano's for some time now. The 6-foot-2, 182-pounder is being recruited as a defensive back and the Buckeyes were long viewed as the team to beat. But then Oklahoma entered the picture, then it looked like TCU was in the lead, and now it appears as though the Longhorns are surging. 

So what do we make of all this? Right now it's really looking like Powell is going to end up closer to home and he may actually play wide receiver at the next level. Wideout isn't on the table at Ohio State, but it's not really clear how big of a deal the future position is in his recruitment. He's got some serious athleticism and Powell is a player Ohio State was pushing for before a number of other programs. 

  • Outlook: Fading Fast

Noah Cain • Running Back •  ★★★★ • Biggest Threat: LSU

Let's make one thing clear on Noah Cain: there are a number of schools still very much in the mix. Ohio State, LSU, Penn State, and Texas are the main contenders, but we consider the Tigers to be the top competition and the current leader in the clubhouse. 

Two weeks ago this wouldn't even have been a need as Sampson James and Georgia athlete Steele Chambers were both a part of Ohio State's 2019 class. Now that James is a part of Indiana's class, adding another tailback is a need for Urban Meyer and Tony Alford. He's looking to take his officials in the coming months and the Buckeyes are expected to get a visit for the Michigan game.

The Buckeyes have had plenty of success at IMG Academy and Cain is especially close with Alford, but it's going to be tough to beat out the Tigers and Longhorns for the Texas native. The good news is that this recruitment really hasn't even taken off yet.

  • Outlook: Plenty of Work to Do

Jordan Battle • Defensive Back • ★★★★ • Biggest Threat: Miami

St. Thomas Aquinas defensive back Jordan Battle has been committed to Ohio State since June, but the Buckeyes have plenty of work to do if they want to hang on to the prized defender. The Urban Meyer saga seemed to shake things up a bit with this one and the staff still needs to get the four-star back on campus. He was expected last weekend but had a change of plans due to some travel hiccups. 

Even when he first committed we expected that he'd take a number of visits. That's just what happens when you are recruiting kids from Florida. We saw it with Shaun Wade and plenty of others. Battle is considering Miami, Florida, Oklahoma, and others, but we have Miami as the main competition right now. I'd definitely be on the lookout for Alabama in this one, especially since the Tide missed out on five-star safety Daxton Hill. 

Battle has had a superb senior season and is a versatile defender who could likely play corner or safety. This is a player the Buckeyes absolutely need to sign.

  • Outlook: Promising
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