It’s been a while since Ohio State has signed a scholarship quarterback from an Ohio high school.
The last in-state quarterback to sign with the Buckeyes out of high school was Joe Burrow in 2015. Since then, Ohio State has rarely even pursued in-state quarterbacks. Between the 2016-22 classes, the only quarterbacks from Ohio who received offers from the Buckeyes were Danny Clark (who committed to Ohio State as a high school freshman but eventually decommitted after Tate Martell joined the Buckeyes’ class of 2017) and Drew Allar (who received his offer after Quinn Ewers reclassified out of the 2022 class, at which point Allar was already committed to Penn State).
2025 might be the year Ohio State’s in-state quarterback drought finally ends.
Ohio State hasn’t offered any in-state quarterbacks in the 2023 class, and it already has its quarterback for 2024 in Dylan Raiola, who will join the Buckeyes by way of Arizona. There are already two Ohio high school quarterbacks in the 2025 class, however, who are on Ohio State’s radar as potential future Buckeyes.
The obvious target to be the quarterback of the Buckeyes’ 2025 class is Ryan Montgomery, who received his offer from Ohio State last fall before he even finished his freshman football season at Findlay High School. As of now, he’s still the only quarterback Ohio State has offered in his class. And the Buckeyes have always been viewed as the frontrunner to land him, especially since his older brother Luke (a 2023 offensive lineman) committed to the Buckeyes in February.
Montgomery was back on campus for the second time in a week on Thursday. He participated in Ohio State’s 7-on-7 tournament with members of the Findlay football team just six days after he participated in Ohio State’s basketball camp last Friday. And he spoke glowingly about Ohio State once again on Thursday.
“Ohio State’s a great place. Where else would you want to go to have a camp with your teammates?” Montgomery said. “It was really fun to be out here and compete.”
The Buckeyes’ high level of interest in Montgomery remained evident on Thursday. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and general manager Mark Pantoni were among those who spent time watching Montgomery’s games on Thursday. Quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis was a consistent presence around Montgomery throughout the day, and Montgomery appreciated the attention.
“Coach Dennis was actually with me pretty much the entire day,” Montgomery said. “He was just telling me to keep my head up whenever I throw up a bad ball or maybe my receiver dropped it. And he was just giving me on tips on what to do.
“It's definitely very helpful. I mean, we're talking about Ohio State’s quarterback coach here. Whenever he's talking, you just want to be like a sponge and soak in as much as possible.”
Montgomery wasn’t the only in-state sophomore quarterback Ohio State kept an eye on Thursday, though.
Tavien St. Clair, who lives just about 45 minutes northwest of Columbus in Bellefontaine, Ohio, has also emerged early as a potential top quarterback in his class. Before his sophomore year at Bellefontaine High School, St. Clair has already received a half-dozen Division I offers from Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Louisville, Central Michigan and Toledo.
Like Montgomery, St. Clair has also already been at Ohio State twice this month. He participated in the Buckeyes’ skill camp on June 7, then was back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with his Bellefontaine teammates on Thursday. He does not have an Ohio State offer as of now, but he has started developing a connection with the Buckeyes’ coaches.
“They want to come watch me play, we're gonna build the relationship and then we'll see what happens from then on,” St. Clair said after Thursday’s tournament. “They just want me to keep learning everything I can. They gave me tips. I took them back with me. And they said just keep listening to my coaches and everything else will play out.”
With three years of high school still to go, St. Clair isn’t thinking too much yet about where he’ll ultimately play college football. But he says he could see himself playing for Ohio State if an offer from the Buckeyes was to come his way. He’s enjoyed getting to know Day and Dennis as Ohio State has started recruiting him.
“I think they're great guys,” St. Clair said. “They really love football, so they want to make sure that when they recruit somebody they love football as much as they do.”
Of course, there’s still a long way to go between now and 2025. Clark’s freshman-year commitment and eventual decommitment is an example that often gets brought up of how much things can change in three years. There were plenty of reminders on Thursday that Montgomery and St. Clair still have a long way to go in their development, as there were ups and downs in both of their performances.
But both 6-foot-3 quarterbacks already have impressive arm strength and size for rising high school sophomores, and each of them flashed high upside as passers during the 7-on-7 tournament.
Bellefontaine QB Tavien St. Clair throws a touchdown pass at Ohio States 7-on-7 camp. Hes one of two in-state 2025 quarterbacks the Buckeyes are keeping a close eye on today along with Findlays Ryan Montgomery, who already has an Ohio State offer. pic.twitter.com/ijupshtYsj— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) June 16, 2022
Touchdown pass over the middle by Tavien St. Clair: pic.twitter.com/a273IkpK6T— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) June 16, 2022
While Ohio State is still looking to add a quarterback to its 2023 class such as Texas native Austin Novosad or Memphis product Brock Glenn, Raiola’s early commitment in the 2024 class allows the Buckeyes to put more early energy into their 2025 recruiting efforts at quarterback. And considering Montgomery has said he would like to make a commitment before his junior year of high school, Ohio State can’t afford to sit back and wait on recruiting him.
The Buckeyes are waiting for now to decide whether St. Clair is worthy of an Ohio State offer, but he says the Buckeyes are impressed with his raw talent and his upside to improve.
“I don't have a quarterback coach or anything, so they like that I can be coachable with any coach,” St. Clair said.
Since St. Clair is currently behind Montgomery on Ohio State’s early 2025 quarterback board, he could hypothetically view Montgomery as a rival. But while he enjoyed having the chance to compete on the same field as Montgomery on Thursday, he doesn’t see Montgomery as an adversary.
“We've talked before. We just started talking about a week ago, so we’re still building a relationship,” St. Clair of getting to know Montgomery. “He’s cool … We're buds, so it's not super competitive and everything.”
Montgomery, who lives just about an hour north of St. Clair, said he wants to get to know his counterpart better and potentially even have a throwing session together.
“I saw Tavien out there and I thought he looked really good,” Montgomery said. “I’d love to get to know him more. Maybe work with him one time. I feel like Ohio has very underrated football talent, and I love to see other players getting noticed, too.”
For now, both Montgomery and St. Clair are focused on preparing for their sophomore seasons of high school football, and both of them said that was the biggest reason why they were at Ohio State on Thursday. While many of the quarterbacks Ohio State has recruited from other states play in 7-on-7 leagues and practice with their high school teams during the spring, Ohio high school teams aren’t allowed to have any organized football activities before June, making opportunities like Thursday important to their preseason preparation.
At the same time, however, Thursday provided a glimpse into why Ohio State could prioritize in-state talent at quarterback for the first time in a long time in the 2025 class. And both St. Clair and Montgomery are proud to be part of what could be a resurgent class at the quarterback position for Ohio high school football. Several other rising sophomore quarterbacks in the state also already have Power 5 offers including Wayne’s Tyrell Lewis (Louisville), Westerville Central’s Jaystin Gwinn (Kentucky) and Gahanna Lincoln’s Brennen Ward (Kentucky).
“The fact that there's only a few people (who are top quarterback recruits from Ohio) kind of shows what type of people that me and Ryan are,” St. Clair said. “But at the same time, there's guys out there that are gonna get them eventually, they just have to wait their time. It's our time right now, and their time will come.”