The early signing period is nearly upon us and with it comes the most chaotic few days of the entire recruiting cycle. The first Wednesday in February will forever hold a special place in our hearts. But make no mistake about it, next week is of paramount importance for Ohio State and every other coaching staff in America.
December 19th marks the beginning of the early signing period as the Buckeyes will look to sign the vast majority of the 2019 class over the three-day stretch. The class currently sits with 16 commitments and ranks No. 9 in the country.
We'll have an early signing period preview next week, but for now we offer some news and notes from around the trail.
Battle Wages On
Jordan Battle is expected to make a decision by the end of the week. Alabama has been in hot pursuit of the Buckeye commit and the Tide coaching staff visited recently as well. Ryan Day is scheduled to check in with his top-rated defensive pledge this evening and a final decision looms with Battle slated to sign with someone next week.
At 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, he's capable of playing either cornerback or safety at the next level and this would be a pretty big blow if the Buckeyes are unable to hang on. Three defensive backs are in the fold right now with Battle being the most likely to end up manning one of the corner spots. Alabama already has 24 commitments including three cornerbacks and a pair of safeties, but does that ever matter for a school like Bama?
Daxton Hill's flip to the Crimson Tide could be the saving grace here, but that recruitment may not be over yet with Michigan still looking to get the five-star back in the fold. Most of the Bama insiders seem to think Saban would welcome Battle regardless of what goes down with Hill, though there are multiple five-stars still in his crosshairs as well.
We've said this before but officially landing Jordan Battle next week may be the top priority for Ryan Day and the staff right now.
Little Hoopla for Harrison
The Athletic's Ari Wasserman reported that Zach Harrison will be tweeting out his commitment next Wednesday and signing with his school of choice. There will be very little fanfare with no formal school ceremony expected at this time. Naturally, people are reading way too much into this as the jury is still very much out on the five-star's looming decision.
You have some folks on the Michigan side confident because a ceremony or something more extravagant would HAVE to be a good sign for the local team. You've got some Ohio State fans worried for that same reason. Harrison may be the quietest top-10 prospect we've ever seen and his decision to do something simple is very much par for the course. This is a kid who seems to absolutely abhor interviews and questions about his college choice.
Why would this be any different?
I don't think anyone has any clue what's going to happen next week and the kid himself may not even know at this point. Even the in-home visits have been fairly quiet but the expectation is that Ohio State could still have the opportunity to check in with the Lewis Center star.
We will finally have an answer next Wednesday.
Steele Chambers Puts a Bow on Things
Four-star Ohio State pledge Steele Chambers saw his senior season come to an end last night, but it was exactly the kind of ending the tailback/linebacker had in mind as Blessed Trinity (Roswell, Georgia) captured its second straight Georgia Class AAAA championship. The team went 15-0 for the first time in its history and topped Cartersville by a score of 23-9 in Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Chambers finished with 98 yards rushing on 22 carries and added five tackles with a tackle for loss on defense. His ultimate position seems up in the air at this point, but for now we should just be excited about getting a versatile player on campus. There had been a bit of concern following Meyer's retirement, but there doesn't appear to be any lingering worries.
#OhioState commit Steele Chambers has hardly left the field tonight. Hes run for tough yards and made numerous tackles. Blessed Trinity has gone back-to-back. He just milked the clock. They just beat Cartersville 23-9 inside @MBStadium. @Kevin_Noon @MarcGivlerBG pic.twitter.com/kx0S1VePBW— Chad Simmons (@ChadSimmons_) December 13, 2018
Going out in Styles
Lorenzo Styles was selected in the third round of the 1995 NFL Draft. Prior to that, he was a two-time All-Big Ten linebacker and Butkus finalist for the Buckeyes. His son – Lorenzo Jr. – is seeing his stock soar on the recruiting trail.
A 2021 wideout who checks in at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, the younger Styles has earned several noteworthy offers of late. Notre Dame was the first major program to enter the fray as it extended an offer back in June. Ohio State and Penn State have both come calling in the last week.
Styles' crystal ball already has a heavy Buckeye flavor to it, but naturally there is the one selection for Notre Dame as well. In all seriousness this is a recruitment that's very likely to come down to the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish. Styles is heading back to South Bend this weekend and the interest is certainly legit.
Ohio State doesn't just go handing out in-state offers to 2021 prospects, so this is absolutely a recruitment we'll be monitoring for the coming years.
McCarthy Another Name to Know for 2021
Ohio State is sitting pretty at the quarterback position with Tate Martell, Matthew Baldwin, Dwan Mathis, and eventually Jack Miller in 2020. This week Ryan Day and Co. offered a 2021 signal caller who's going to be another player to watch closely in the coming years.
La Grange Park, Illinois is home to J.J. McCarthy; a 6-foot-2, 180-pound quarterback who holds early offers from Michigan, Penn State, and now Ohio State. As a sophomore he threw for nearly 3,500 yards with 39 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He's now one of three 2021 quarterbacks to have been offered by the Buckeyes, joining North Carolina's Drake Maye and Texas' Preston Stone.
His crystal ball only has one submission thus far and it is for (you guessed it) the Fighting Irish.
Lock-Ness Monster Sighting
Maryland recently named Mike Locksley as its new head coach, and I think it's fair to issue a warning about his recruiting prowess in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia region. He's probably very average or even below average when it comes to actually coaching football (3-31 as a head coach), but Locksley is one of the best in the business on the recruiting front; which is a big part of the reason Alabama hired him back in 2016.
Ohio State and Larry Johnson have had a ton of success in the DMV with guys like Chase Young, Dwayne Haskins, Isaiah Prince, and plenty others. The Locksley hiring is really going to give Maryland a shot at more players from this talent-rich area. The Buckeyes are heavily targeting the area again with three of their top 2020 targets all hailing from D.C.'s St. Johns College High School.
Things will likely get a bit trickier for Ohio State and every other school looking to pluck the top prospects from the region. DeMatha Catholic is one of the area's premier programs and yesterday Locksley hired its head coach (Elijah Brooks) to be the Terps new running backs coach. A genius move, in my opinion.
Can Maryland land some of its best players if it's going 5-7 every year? That remains to be seen.