Early Signing Period Storylines As Ryan Day and the Buckeyes Look to Solidify Things for the 2019 Recruiting Class

By Andrew Ellis on December 18, 2018 at 6:55 pm
Ryan Day's first early signing period should be a big one for the Buckeyes.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

It's early signing period eve and the next three days are going to be the most pivotal moments for the 2019 recruiting class. The expectation is that the vast majority (70-80 percent) of the country's prospects will sign with their school of choice between Wednesday and Friday. Some of these players made the decision long ago while others are still waiting to let the world know of their intentions.

The Buckeyes have 16 commitments in the fold and right now it's looking like 14 of those are solid with their pledges. Four-star defensive back commit Jordan Battle is looking unlikely (more on him later) and West Virginia offensive lineman Doug Nester is exploring his options. There doesn't seem to be any concern on four-star athlete Steele Chambers, but at last check he was planning on waiting until February to sign.

This class is going to look a bit different and those who have gotten used to Ohio State bringing in 25ish signees should probably lower those expectations a bit. It may be tricky to get the class up to 20, but the January buildup to the traditional signing day could certainly change things.

With all of that being said, there are several storylines to watch in the coming days.

Harrison Saga Coming to a Close

The time is finally here. Lewis Center's Zach Harrison will be sending his letter of intent to one of the Big Ten's top programs and we'll all know of his choice by Wednesday afternoon. Earlier today Olentangy North announced that there will be a 12:30 p.m. livestream, but there's not going to be a ceremony or anything open to the public.

It seems like no one knows exactly what the five-star will do on Wednesday, and that's no surprise considering the kid doesn't talk about his recruitment and genuinely seems to dislike the whole process. Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State have all been rumored to be out in front at one point or another, and he could side with any of the three schools. 

The latest vibes out of Lewis Center can only be taken as a positive for the Buckeyes.

Larry Johnson, Al Washington, and James Franklin have been the key figures in the recruitment and Harrison has expressed a strong relationship with all three. Does he want to get away from home? Is he worried about potentially losing to Ohio State? Does he understand that Johnson's tutelage can help him reach his max potential?

We shall find out on Wednesday as Johnson and Day could be getting some good news.

Flips Hard to Come By

Ohio State has had its sights set on a few targets that are committed elsewhere. Nick Broeker, an offensive tackle from Springfield, Illinois, is an Ole Miss commit who's been considering the Buckeyes. The three-star is expected to sign on Thursday and right now all signs are pointing to him ending up in Oxford. A December official to Columbus did take place, but he may very well stick with the Rebels.

Toledo's Cavon Butler is pledged to Kentucky and his recruitment has been an interesting one. Right now Ohio State isn't pushing for the defensive tackle but I suppose there's a chance – albeit an unlikely one – he gets the green light before the end of the early period. With things looking extremely promising on the Jaden McKenzie front, Butler will likely end up in Lexington or East Lansing.

Clayton Northmont's Jestin Jacobs is committed to Iowa and there's absolutely no indication that Ohio State will be the landing spot. The four-star has been to Columbus twice since last month's offer, but it's certainly looking like Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeye staff have done enough to secure Ohio's No. 7 prospect. Barring something unforeseen, the Army All-American will sign with Iowa on Wednesday.

Battle Verdict Looming

We've pretty much written off Jordan Battle at this point. The St. Thomas Aquinas four-star was an Urban Meyer recruit perhaps more so than anyone else in the 2019 class. Even before Meyer's retirement there were some questions surrounding his status, and those have only intensified post-retirement. 

But is there a chance the Buckeyes can keep the prized defender in the fold? I'd say it's unlikely and he's likely to end up in Tuscaloosa, but the fact that he hasn't flipped yet is at least giving us a glimmer of hope. Ohio State checked in with Battle last week and rumors circulated that the staff was informed that he won't be heading to Columbus. Most expected a flip to happen shortly thereafter, but we're still waiting for it to take place.

Alabama holds commitments from three corners and two safeties, and one has to wonder exactly how many defensive backs the Tide can take; especially when the class already sits at 24 and there are several other high-caliber targets on the board.

Surprise, Surprise?

As always, it's never wise to rule out the chance of a surprise. We've seen some strange signing day storylines in the past with random flips from players like Darius Slade in 2014. Is there anything potentially on the horizon for this week (besides what's already going on with Justin Fields)?

We've talked about him before, but three-star Ohio University tight end commit Tyler Foster is perhaps the guy to watch. Is there any reason to think the Pickerington native is on the verge of a flip? Not necessarily, and the main reason we've been keeping an eye on this one is because the Buckeyes should have the available space and Foster has been to campus numerous times over the last two months.

The Timing of it All

What we know now is that the Harrison live stream will air at 12:30 p.m. Mentor's early ceremony starts at 9:00 a.m. so that's when Noah Potter and Ryan Jacoby will make things official. Cade Stover will be signing at 3:00 p.m. Four-star quarterback Dwan Mathis is slated to sign at 9:00 a.m. though it remains to be seen if the Justin Fields rumors could change things on that front. Buford, Georgia's Harry Miller will be around 11:00 a.m.

There's going to be plenty of activity throughout the day as the Ohio State Twitter accounts tend to update the masses as soon as things are official. We'll obviously have plenty of updates as well so be sure to stay dialed into 11W as the faxes come in.

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