When Zach Smith was fired from Ohio State last July, there were plenty of questions surrounding the situation as a whole and the repercussions moving forward on the recruiting trail. He had been an integral part of Urban Meyer's recruiting machine; especially in the state of Florida.
With Meyer still at the helm, there weren't too many concerns as to whether or not the Buckeyes would continue to be a force in the Sunshine State. Obviously that changed when he announced his retirement after seven seasons. Now, with Ryan Day running the show in Columbus, Ohio State still looks to be a formidable presence in one of the country's most fertile recruiting grounds.
This past weekend, The Opening made its way to South Florida for the Miami regional event. Several of the area's top prospects competed for a chance to earn a spot at The Opening Finals. There was plenty of Ohio State chatter surrounding the festivities and some new crystal balls came flying in the Buckeyes' favor.
We don't even really need to get into exactly how good St. Thomas Aquinas has been to the Buckeyes with the Bosas, Damon Arnette, and others having flocked to Columbus. Five-star wideout Marcus Rosemy was on hand this weekend, and the country's No. 5 pass-catcher had no problems identifying Ohio State as the team to beat at the moment.
Over the last few days there have been three crystal ball submissions – including two from local insiders – and each one of them has been in the Buckeyes' favor. It was just a few short years ago that Urban Meyer was able to lure another Raider wideout to the Midwest; though things didn't go exactly as planned for current Gator receiver Trevon Grimes.
We haven't talked about Rosemy as much as fellow five-stars like Washington D.C.'s Rakim Jarrett or Pennsylvania's Julian Fleming, but that's likely going to change moving forward. Brian Hartline is wanting to add another pair of receivers to go along with Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Gee Scott Jr. The 2020 haul at the position is on track to be pretty spectacular.
Four-star cornerback Henry Gray decommitted from Miami a few months ago and now the Hurricanes aren't even among his top schools. Cornerback is a major area of need for Jeff Hafley and Ohio State's 2020 class, and right now it's looking like Ryan Day or Dabo Swinney could be the beneficiary of Miami's struggles. The Buckeyes are the current crystal ball favorite, but they'll need to get him back on campus in the near future.
|Prospect||Pos.||Location||Rating||FL Rank||Nat. Rank|
|Marcus Rosemy||WR||Fort Lauderdale||★★★★★||No. 1||No. 26|
|Fred Davis II||CB||Jacksonville||★★★★||No. 4||No. 37|
|Henry Gray||CB||Miami||★★★★||No. 6||No. 51|
|Miles Brooks||CB||Jacksonville||★★★★||No. 28||No. 178|
|Lejond Cavazos||CB||Bradenton (via Texas)||★★★★||No. 41||No. 259|
Jacksonville's Trinity Christian has been good to the Buckeyes of late. Shaun Wade, Tyreke Johnson, and 2019 early enrollee Marcus Crowley all hail from the powerhouse program. The Class of 2020 includes two more prospects from the pipeline school, and the pair forms what has to be one of America's top cornerback tandems.
Fred Davis II and Miles Brooks are both long defenders built similarly to guys like Gareon Conley and Eli Apple. Both check in at close to 6-foot-2 and they're highly considering the Buckeyes early on in their respective recruitments. Clemson is right in the thick of it for Davis, but a few Florida analysts are forecasting him to Ohio State at the moment. Brooks plans on returning to Columbus this spring and will have the opportunity to reunite with his former teammates.
IMG Academy's Lejond Cavazos transferred to the Bradenton power after spending time just south of Austin, Texas. His father is a long-time friend of Meyer's and that relationship was a big part of the defensive back's decision to commit to Ohio State back in June of 2018. Meyer's departure certainly shook his recruitment up as the four-star has since put himself back on the market.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is still considering the Buckeyes and schools like Georgia, Oregon, and Miami are also in the mix. He's a versatile defender who can likely play anywhere in the secondary. Some folks had some speed concerns a while back, but Cavazos put up a blazing laser-timed 4.4 over the weekend; which is certainly cornerback-caliber speed.
2020 DB Lejond Cavazos wins fastest man at the Opening Miami with a 4.42 40 pic.twitter.com/VkMHjm8Miu
— Stefan Adams (@stefan_adams305) February 17, 2019
He was one of the top overall performers this past weekend and seems like a player whose No. 259 national composite rating could soon be on the rise. He also won the combine challenge with a superb 133.26 rating. The Athletic's Ari Wasserman reported that he'll be back in Columbus on March 22nd for what's shaping up to be a huge weekend. Ryan Day and Jeff Hafley will have to work to get Cavazos back in the fold.
The Buckeyes signed just one Florida prospect for the 2019 class in four-star tailback Marcus Crowley. That's not exactly what we've gotten used to seeing under Meyer, but the outlook remains bright with Ryan Day and Brian Hartline both putting in extensive work.
Recruiting the state of Florida is a different animal and sometimes securing a commitment early on in the process simply means that you're the team to beat moving forward. We've seen players like Jordan Battle leave Ohio State's class during the early signing period while a talent like Shaun Wade explored his options and ended up sticking.
As long as Florida State and Miami have their struggles, it should be open season in the country's top region for high school talent. With plenty of top targets highly considering the Buckeyes, Day, Hafley, Hartline, and Co. should have every opportunity to take advantage.