In early February, Luke Montgomery had an epiphany.
After a lengthy recruiting process, the four-star Ohio offensive tackle decided who he was going to play college football for. So, Montgomery burst into his parents’ room to let them know he made up his mind.
“I said, ‘It’s time for me to wrap this up,’” Montgomery said.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound prospect told his mother and father he’d be committing to the team he grew up rooting for: Ohio State. His parents were shocked he decided as early as February, but were also slightly relieved. His father, Mike, thought his eldest son would make more visits before wrapping up his recruitment.
“When he said he was ready, I’m like ‘Sweet, let’s do it,’” Mike said. “It saves me a little money, right? Because now I don’t have to travel anywhere.”
Luke announced his decision publicly on Thursday, two weeks after he told his family.
“Columbus is a great city,” the younger Montgomery said Thursday at a commitment ceremony at Findlay High School. “I was born there, I lived there for about 10 months of my life before moving to Findlay, so I’ve always been an Ohio kid. I grew up an Ohio State Buckeye fan, just being able to play for the home team, it’s pretty amazing.”
In January, Montgomery narrowed his college decision down to Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan – or the team up north, as Montgomery was quick to correct himself on how to refer to the Buckeyes’ archrival following his commitment.
“I have to get used to that,” Montgomery said with a laugh. “Those three, it was a super tough decision. Calling those other coaches, that was really hard. I know they respected that, and I want to coach someday after I’m done playing, so having all those connections and keeping that all throughout my four to five years of college will help me in the long run.”
Entering 2022, Montgomery had thought he’d make a commitment around May and allow himself to take some official visits to other schools. Then Montgomery, who is ranked as the nation’s 49th-best prospect, saw the coaching carousel in full swing. Assistant coaches from each of his top three schools were either fired or left for different jobs. So he pondered what school would fit him best even if there was a ton of coaching turnover before he arrived.
“At the end of the day, coaches leave left and right, and I thought Ohio State was the place I’d be fine being at if any coach was ever to leave,” Montgomery said.
Ryan Day was heavily involved in Montgomery’s recruitment and wanted him to be one of the first commitments for OSU in 2023. Day thought Montgomery could be one of OSU’s top peer recruiters, much like C.J. Hicks was for the class of 2022.
“What really hit me was coach Day, he really wanted me to be one of the recruiters to get this class rolling,” Montgomery said. “I truly think we will be the number one class at the end of the day.”
Montgomery remembered how welcoming current Ohio State players were when he took visits to Columbus, and it’s something he won’t forget going forward.
“One thing that’s different than other schools, the players that are already there felt very welcoming when I came to campus,” Montgomery said. “I know a lot of guys in the 2022 class very well. I know Paris Johnson, he really took me under his wing and showed me around and what the Buckeyes are like.”
Ironically, a few seconds after he gave a shoutout to Johnson, he looked down at his phone and saw a congratulatory text message from OSU’s projected starting left tackle next season.
“Oh hey, Paris actually just texted me,” Montgomery told the gathered reporters and fans in Findlay’s gym with a laugh.
Montgomery’s peer recruiting efforts won’t be limited solely to the 2023 class. Three minutes into his commitment press conference, he smiled and boasted about another recruit he was going to try to help his new school land. Montgomery lifted his thumb so it pointed directly behind him and toward his younger brother Ryan, a 2025 quarterback who already has an offer from Ohio State.
“This little guy right here,” Montgomery said when asked about the recruits he’d attempt to lure to Columbus.
Ryan does not yet know whether he will join Luke at OSU in the future, but he couldn’t help but beam with pride after his older brother made his commitment.
“It’s awesome, he’s worked so hard for this,” Ryan said. “For his dream to come true, it’s just awesome to see.”
Predicting OSU would finish with the top-ranked recruiting class in 2023 and trying to convince his younger brother to team up with him in Columbus weren’t the only bold assertions Montgomery made during his commitment ceremony. Montgomery declared he hopes to start for Ohio State as soon as his freshman year, though he prefaced that goal with the caveat that he knows it’s unusual for true freshman offensive linemen to play much in year one.
“He’s a confident kid and I appreciate that,” Mike said. “I’d never say that Luke is arrogant or anything like that, he’s a confident kid and that’s all you can ask for. He knows that’s a tall task. But I think it should be his goal to go down there and give it his all, which I think he’ll do.”
Luke has already spent plenty of time getting to know his soon-to-be new offensive line coach, Justin Frye. Montgomery was one of the first prospects Frye visited in person after he became the Buckeyes’ offensive line coach last month, flying from Los Angeles to Ohio to attend his basketball game with Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis. Two days later, Frye invited the Montgomery family to Columbus and broke down Luke’s film with him for two-and-a-half hours.
“That was pretty spectacular because he had been in L.A. for four days prior,” Montgomery said. “For him to already have my film broken down, and then on top of that show me new techniques on the offensive line, that was a great experience, and our personalities are pretty magnetic.”
Montgomery lined up at left tackle, guard and center for Findlay in 2021, though he played tackle primarily. Montgomery said Frye sees him as a swing tackle, so he will begin his college career playing on the edge. If needed, Montgomery is willing to play guard or center for the Buckeyes, though.
“I’d like to play tackle, but I’m open to any of those positions for sure,” Montgomery said. “Whatever gets me on the field the fastest. I’m pretty positive I can play tackle.”
Montgomery said he plans to graduate high school in December and enroll early at Ohio State in January to participate in spring football. That’s going to be essential if he hopes to turn his goal of playing early into a reality. But for now, with his recruitment now behind him, he’ll focus on playing one more season at Findlay with Ryan.
“I’m super glad to have this over with,” Luke said of his recruitment. “I’m excited to go into my senior year having fun with all my teammates and hopefully win state.”