Tad Hudson didn’t have to wonder whether Ryan Day and Corey Dennis were paying attention to him when he attended Ohio State’s third high school football camp of June last Wednesday.
Before the afternoon session of last Wednesday’s camp, Ohio State’s head coach and quarterbacks coach put a select group of four quarterbacks – Hudson, fellow 2023 prospects Dylan Lonergan and William Watson III and 2024 signal-caller Adrian Posse – through a workout of their own separate from the rest of the campers. Day, Dennis and graduate assistant Tommy McDonnell coached the four quarterbacks through a variety of passing drills, watching every throw they made and giving them feedback throughout the workout.
That made a real impression on Hudson that stuck with him after he had left the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and returned to his home state of North Carolina the next day.
“I thought that was awesome,” Hudson told Eleven Warriors on Thursday. “I’ve never been to a college like that where the head coach is evaluating every throw you make and giving you feedback on what you need to do, what you need to fix, what he likes. That was really big.”
Hudson, who is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 13 overall quarterback in the class of 2023, is one of numerous top signal-callers in the junior class who have come to Columbus this month to throw for and learn from Ohio State’s coaches. Other 2023 quarterbacks who have Power 5 offers that were among the participants in Ohio State’s first three camps of June included Nicholaus Iamaleava, Eli Holstein, Cameron Edge and Malachi Singleton.
Getting all of those quarterbacks on campus, with more to come this week and next, was an important step for Ohio State in evaluating their quarterback options for the 2023 class, as Day prefers not to offer quarterbacks until he has watched them throw in person. That’s why he’s paid such close attention to the quarterback workouts at each camp, making offers to four quarterbacks – Iamaleava, Holstein, Lonergan and Posse – thus far. Malachi Nelson, who is not expected to visit Ohio State, was the only quarterback in the 2023 class who had an offer from the Buckeyes before this month.
For those quarterbacks who picked up an offer after their camp workouts, they could leave Ohio State knowing they earned it with what they were able to show Day and Dennis on the field.
“Just glad I got to get the offer from the coaches after throwing in front of them, and just really excited about that,” Lonergan told Eleven Warriors over the weekend. “Definitely a really good opportunity, because they’re really good at what they do.”
That said, even the quarterbacks who left without offers – at least for now, as those offers could still come later in the process if they perform well during their junior seasons – felt as though they benefited from the opportunity to learn from Day and Dennis.
“It was amazing,” Edge said after camping at Ohio State last Tuesday. “That was kind of something I definitely don’t take for granted, a lot of kids don’t get an opportunity. You see them on TV all the time, and it’s weird to see them now in person. But he taught me some things that I think I’m definitely gonna take home and continue to work on to help me out.”
Each of the four quarterbacks Eleven Warriors spoke with after last week’s camps – Lonergan, Edge, Hudson and Watson – pointed to specific, individualized feedback they received from Day that they will now apply to their continued development as they prepare for their junior seasons.
- Lonergan: “They were saying when I throw on-platform, without moving a little bit, I’m very, very good. And just when I get off-platform, the only thing they were coaching me up on was trying to stick my back foot in the ground and create more power.”
- Edge: “He told me to shorten my stance up a little bit. Work on that. And I think the ball came out even better. That was something I really liked, I never really thought about it. I’ve always been wide, so he told me to change that up and it looked really good.”
- Hudson: “Coach Day was talking about my mechanics and my front arm and said, ‘It’s staying too close in, you need to get it through so you can get your hips to the ball a little bit more and really use your whole body.’”
- Watson: “Planting my back foot into the floor, and really getting that zip on the ball. Maximizing my arm potential, and then also fixing my release. Coach Day had told me my release was a little long – not long as in time-wise, but long as in my release was going down, then up, so I’m winding the ball up. So he helped me fix that as we go on with camp. So I’m gonna go back and I’m gonna try to work on that.”
Hudson, who said he and his father had a one-on-one conversation with Day after the camp and that Day told them he wanted to come to see Hudson throw in a game this fall, said Day even encouraged him to send him film throughout the season for continued coaching.
“It was pretty cool, because he was like, ‘Yeah, you and your quarterback coach, you can send me videos whenever you want and I’ll keep evaluating you and keep working with you,’” Hudson said.
More on the four 2023 quarterbacks who Eleven Warriors spoke with:
Lonergan, who is ranked as the No. 4 quarterback in the composite rankings for the 2023 class, added Ohio State to a list of more than 20 other offers that also includes Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oregon, Penn State and Tennessee, among others.
The Snellville, Georgia native has already been to seven schools this month – North Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Alabama and Georgia Tech are the others – and plans to camp at Georgia on June 22.
Lonergan is also a highly touted pitching prospect on the baseball diamond, and he plans to play both sports at the collegiate level. Lonergan says he’s talked with Ohio State’s baseball coaching staff, as well, and that the football coaching staff is supportive of his desire to continue playing both sports.
He wants to narrow his recruitment down to a list of 10-12 schools by the end of summer, but says he doesn’t plan to make a commitment until next summer after he has the opportunity to make official visits.
Ultimately, Lonergan says important factors in his decision will be “a great coaching staff that can develop me as a quarterback, and also just the ability to play both sports, football and baseball.”
Edge, who’s ranked by 247Sports as the No. 8 quarterback in the 2023 class, said it “would be big” for him to eventually receive an offer from Ohio State. He already holds offers from 15 schools, including LSU and Penn State – both of whom he’s also visiting this month – as well as Tennessee and Wisconsin, among others, but he knows an offer from the Buckeyes would carry cachet.
“I know they’re very selective, and I think they pick the best quarterbacks in the country,” Edge said. “I think that would put me in that top tier of guys.”
Edge says the most important factor in his recruitment is finding a team that he’s confident will develop him properly and that runs an offensive scheme he can thrive in, and Ohio State is one of the schools he believes would fit that criteria.
“I like to be around the best,” said Edge, who is returning to his hometown high school in Smyrna, Delaware this year after starting his high school at DeMatha Catholic, Chase Young’s alma mater. “Ohio State has the best defense every year, DBs every year, and they have the best receivers. So I think you’re around a lot of good people, and it prepares you for the next level, if that’s what you want it to be. And Coach Day prepares quarterbacks very well.”
Ohio State might need to offer Edge soon to have a chance to land his commitment, as he says he “would like to commit as early as possible.” He had no hard feelings, though, about leaving Ohio State without an offer on Tuesday.
“I’m just gonna keep working every day,” Edge said.
While Hudson already has a list of 16 offers that includes Auburn, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, among others, he plans to wait until after his junior season to decide on his college destination, knowing that Ohio State and other schools still want to see him play this fall.
Hudson went to Clemson, Tennessee, North Carolina and Notre Dame before his trip to Ohio State, and will also be visiting Alabama, Arkansas, Wake Forest and “maybe LSU” this month.
Ohio State is likely to be near the top of Hudson’s list if it makes him an offer.
“It’s one of the biggest college programs in the country. And somewhere I’d like to play. I love the coaches there,” Hudson said.
An Ohio State offer would also mean being recruited by his former teammate at William Amos Hough High School, Evan Pryor, who’s now a freshman running back for the Buckeyes.
“He’s always texting me, ‘Man, you gotta come to Ohio State. You gotta come to Ohio State,’” Hudson said. “And when I went up there, he was basically with us the whole day and he was walking around with us, showing us stuff, so it was pretty cool. Evan’s a great kid.”
William “Pop” Watson III
Although Watson doesn’t yet have a composite ranking from 247Sports, the Springfield, Massachusetts quarterback got plenty of attention from Day and Dennis during his two days at Ohio State, as he participated in both the Tuesday and Wednesday camps last week.
Watson, a dual-threat quarterback who is only 6-foot and 180 pounds but showcased both his downfield passing ability and speed to make plays on the run during his camp workouts, currently has seven offers from Arizona, Boston College, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Tennessee, but he knows an Ohio State offer could take his recruitment to the next level.
“Ohio State’s always been an offer I’ve been chasing,” Watson said. “I think getting an Ohio State offer is kind of an indicator to the rest of the colleges that would overlook me for my size that if I can play here, I can play anywhere, because Ohio State’s consistently a national level school. Because they’re always in the playoffs and the national championship.”
Even though he left Columbus without that offer, Watson was happy he made the trip to Ohio State, saying “the experience was definitely worth it, definitely worth the flight.”
“I had a great time at camp, I had a great time with the coaches,” Watson said. “I feel like Ohio State focused on me a lot.”
He hasn’t set any timeline for making a commitment decision yet, as he wants to wait and see what happens during his junior year, but if he was to get an opportunity to play for the Buckeyes, he believes he’d thrive under the pressure that comes with that.
“I feel like when games get bigger, that’s when I get better,” Watson said. “You put me in a stadium with 200,000 people, all 200,000’s gonna be like, ‘Wow, that kid’s got it.’”