While Ohio State already has one of the nation's top recruiting classes locked up, the Buckeyes missed out on one of their top targets Wednesday morning when five-star Fairfield, Ohio, offensive tackle Jackson Carman committed to Clemson over Ohio State and USC.
The Buckeyes were widely considered the favorite to land the No. 9 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, but Carman told Eleven Warriors this spring that the Tigers were his leader at the time.
"I just think I feel more comfortable at Clemson, in a sense. I don't feel like there's as much pressure on me at Clemson," Carman told Eleven Warriors at the time. "Like when I go to Ohio State, people automatically assume I'm a Buckeye. I don't necessarily take too kind to that because I'm just making sure the people around me aren't dictating or influencing my decision."
Carman put his recruitment on the back burner as camp season ramped up, but told reporters at Nike Football’s The Opening in early July he was just “going to show up” at Clemson for All-In Cookout or Ohio State for Friday Night Lights later that month. Whichever school’s recruiting event he attended would surely have the leg up in landing his commitment moving forward — and, fortunately for the Buckeyes, he made the hour-long trip to Columbus that evening.
Carman’s recruitment didn’t come without a bit of controversy thereafter, though. Following Ohio State’s loss to Oklahoma in September — a game which he unofficially attended — he was among the handful of recruits who advocated on social media for the Buckeyes to change from starting quarterback J.T. Barrett to backup Dwayne Haskins.
In the days following, the tweet morphed into a very public fued between Carman and former Ohio State quarterback and current ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit. Some even suggested the Buckeyes move on from him altogether.
Cooler heads ultimately prevailed, and Carman returned to campus for Ohio State’s wins over Penn State and Michigan State. And though he didn’t cheer and kept to himself while on campus in order to not give the impression he was once again leaning toward the Buckeyes, most believed his pledge was inevitable.
Official visits to Clemson and USC on back-to-back weekends this month loomed large, however.
Now, Carman is signed to play for the defending national champion Tigers, while Ohio State moves on without the state’s best player and top-ranked offensive tackle in the country.
"Christmas came a little early today," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said in his signing day press conference shortly after Carman's announcement.
The Buckeyes signed one player at the position in four-star Max Wray, but hoped to take as many at three offensive tackles this cycle. Players like Maryland four-star Rasheed Walker and Florida four-stars Nicholas Petit-Frere and William Barnes become the staff's top targets, while more names will surely emerge as we move toward the traditional National Signing Day in February.