Preview: This Year's Recruiting Storylines at the All-America Bowl and Under Armour All-America Game

By Andrew Ellis on January 3, 2019 at 11:08 am
Five Ohio State signees will be in San Antonio this weekend.
Via @markpantoni

It's that time of year again.

The first week of January brings the year's top high school All-America games. While the early signing period has drastically changed the recruiting calendar and really the magnitude of these games, Ohio State fans still have plenty to be on the lookout for as several commitments and signees will take the field with the country's top prospects. 

Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have signed 15 prospects thus far for the 2019 class and are still working to hang onto four-star offensive line commit Doug Nester. Due to the smaller class size, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this year's games don't include quite as much Ohio State flavor as we've seen in years past. 

 Under Armour All-America Game • Thursday, Jan. 3rd @ 6:00 p.m. ET • Orlando • ESPN2

We'll start with tonight's Under Armour event that kicks off at 6:00 p.m. in Orlando. This one isn't exactly jam-packed with players to watch, but if you're in need of some football spectating this evening then you can always tune in to ESPN2.

Buckeye signee Jameson Williams has reportedly been one of the stars of practice thus far. The only real knock on the speedster has been his size, and at about 170 pounds he'll definitely need to bulk up under Mickey Marotti. Allen Trieu and a few other analysts have been raving about his speed this week. He's set to arrive in Columbus this summer.

Another wideout to watch just might be Auburn commitment George Pickens. No one is betting on the Buckeyes' chances of flipping an SEC commitment from Hoover, Alabama, but Pickens certainly doesn't seem sold on the Tigers just yet. He talked about his communication with Ryan Day and is trying to get a trip to Columbus scheduled. LSU, Florida, and Georgia also seem to be pushing for a flip. 

Other noteworthy names in this one include Penn State's impressive tailback duo of Devyn Ford and Noah Cain, five-star West Virginia tackle Darnell Wright, and longtime Buckeye pledge turned Alabama signee Jordan Battle.

2019 All-American Bowl • Saturday, Jan. 5th @ 1 p.m. ET • San Antonio • NBC 

Army was the sponsor for this game for 17 years, and while the name has changed a bit, it's still looking like the better of the two annual contests. Now simply the "All-American Bowl," this year's game has five Ohio State commitments/signees on the roster; including a trio of five-star prospects.

The Buckeyes got a major win during the early signing period when Lewis Center's Zach Harrison sided with the local team over the Wolverines and Nittany Lions. We're all familiar with the freakishly athletic five-star edge rusher, but we've also talked about how much he can use some development under Larry Johnson's tutelage.

At 6-foot-5 and 243 pounds, the country's No. 4 overall prospect is still raw and had a bit of an injury-plagued senior year. Watching him go up against some supremely talented tackles will be a big storyline on Saturday before Harrison makes the short trip to campus for the spring semester.

Five-star wideout Garrett Wilson is the No. 2 wideout in the country and he too will be enrolling early. The Dublin, Ohio turned Austin, Texas product has been an integral part of the Buckeyes' 2019 class and should have plenty opportunities against some of the country's top corners. 

Buford, Georgia center Harry Miller and Huntington, West Virginia guard Doug Nester also will be suiting up for the East. The five-star has been impressive all week in practice and will look to continue Ohio State's strong play at the position. Like Wilson, he's been one of the linchpins of the Buckeyes' class.

There are plenty of concerns regarding Nester, and I'd say there's definitely some reason to worry right now. He's considering Penn State, Virginia Tech, and Georgia and is rooming with one of Kirby Smart's signees in San Antonio. The four-star is still working on a decision and will sign in February. Offensive line remains a major need for the Buckeyes and keeping Nester in the fold is absolutely a priority for Ryan Day.

Four-star Buckeye signee Steele Chambers is listed as an athlete on the game's roster, but yesterday he seemed to be working out primarily at linebacker. Most of the chatter has been at the running back position and when Ohio State received his signature the official Twitter account acknowledged him as a member of the backfield.

At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, Chambers is an intriguing athlete and this one could probably go either way long term. It's also important to note that Ezekiel Elliott lined up at defensive back when he was in San Antonio (which is still rather hilarious in hindsight), so this doesn't necessarily tell us anything.

Fellow signee Ronnie Hickman also earned a spot in the game, but he suffered a torn ACL in October and won't be suiting up. The potential Wilson vs. Hickman matchups would have been fun to watch.

Other noteworthy participants from around the Big Ten include five-star Michigan safety Daxton Hill, Nebraska wideout Wandale Robinson, and Wisconsin quarterback signee Graham Mertz.

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