Tavien St. Clair Ready for Elite 11 Finals, Doing Whatever Possible to Get Head Start on Collegiate Development

By Andy Anders on June 12, 2024 at 8:35 am
Tavien St. Clair

It’s hard to dictate the dichotomy between the aura of Tavien St. Clair at Ohio State’s recruiting camp two years ago to last year and up to this year.

In each gap, the Buckeye quarterback commit took massive physical leaps. St. Clair’s gone from a scrawny in-state afterthought to a bona fide star tossing as good a football as any prospect in the country. Ranked as low as 334th in the 247Sports composite just 13 months ago, he’s now a five-star recruit ranked as the nation’s No. 14 recruit and No. 3 quarterback.

St. Clair earned his offer from Ohio State around that time and committed less than a month later at the end of Ohio State’s 7-on-7 camp, which he will return to on Wednesday after throwing at Ohio State’s skill camp on Tuesday for the second time in less than a week.

“Me being out here for the first camp last week, it was my first time back out here since I had that feeling, committing, and things like that,” St. Clair said. “It was big for me, just to take a step back, realize how far I've come in a year and how many relationships I've built and grown. I've never doubted my decision, not one time, and regretted it. So it's just been an awesome, awesome opportunity, awesome journey.”

Now St. Clair is preparing for his final year of high school football and doing whatever he can to get a jump on his collegiate days, whether that’s working hand-in-hand with OSU coaches, peer recruiting or showcasing his skills at perhaps the most prestigious of high school quarterback camps.

From his perspective, it’s the work he’s put into honing his craft that’s caused his surge through the recruiting rankings. He’s learning more and more about the game of football with each passing week.

“I think my competitive drive and my work ethic in the offseason,” St. Clair said of why his stock has risen so much. “It doesn't even have to be throwing the football, just getting stronger, really understanding defenses, understanding the disguise that the defense is gonna try and run on me. And really just trying to get that head start, head step on the other competition mentally.”

Ohio State offensive coordinator Chip Kelly has been a major part of that development. St. Clair’s already started learning Ohio State’s playbook and even got to sit in on some meetings with the team’s quarterbacks this spring.

“Me and Coach Kelly sit down and talk, same with Coach (Riley) Larkin,” St. Clair said. “Coach Larkin's been really big for my development as well, just processing it, helping me go through reads and my progressions and things like that when I go through the plays. Spring practice was big for me for that, just to be in the quarterback meetings, to see the plays that they were gonna be going through.”

While St. Clair’s Bellefontaine squad isn’t playing at the Buckeyes’ first 7-on-7 competition of the summer on Wednesday, the gunslinger will be back on campus to play for the house team as he tunes up for his trip to Los Angeles for the Elite 11 Finals on June 18. There he’ll learn and compete for three days with 19 other top quarterbacks from across the country, including the two that stand above him in the composite rankings, LSU commit Bryce Underwood and USC pledge Julian Lewis.

“To have a chance to prove yourself to be the best in the country is an opportunity that you should take every single time you get that chance,” St. Clair said. “So like I’ve said before, I've dreamed about being in the Elite 11 final for a long time. And I know that the best quarterbacks in the country are gonna be there, so it's just a way to showcase your talents against the best.”

St. Clair said he pays a little bit of attention to his recruiting ranking, but not too much. Obviously, the Elite 11 presents a chance to jump up even further.

“At the end of the day, the work in college is what matters, and the time on the field is what matters,” St. Clair said. “It's all about opinions for rankings as well, but it's also a major blessing. I think it helps to get national attention, just to know that your work is being shown and that people are recognizing you for your work is a major blessing.”

Speaking of college work that matters, St. Clair is a leading presence in the recruitment of a potential future college teammate, David Sanders Jr. The No. 1 offensive tackle prospect in the class of 2025 might also be the Buckeyes’ No. 1 priority on the trail for the class, given the last few years of struggles along the offensive line and past recruiting misses at the position.

“We are very close. I just texted him yesterday, so I'm in contact with him all the time,” St. Clair said. “Really just check up on him, even though he's on his other official visits, like, ‘Hey,’ just making sure he knows I'm still in the mix. So yeah, my relationship with David is really, really, really special.”

St. Clair added that his goal and that of his fellow commits is to maintain OSU’s position as the No. 1 class in the country, and then have the best team in the country when they arrive in Columbus. Sanders would be a huge brushstroke to add to that picture.

Personally, St. Clair is focused on his feet and leadership as he enters his senior year. Through those tweaks and his continued learning of Ohio State’s system, he hopes to get the head start he’s looking for before enrolling early at Ohio State in January.

“I think definitely my footwork is big,” St. Clair said. “Coach Kelly and Coach Larkin have been working with me for a while now, just making sure my footwork's clean, because right now I rely on my arm. And sometimes it's really good, but sometimes it can get you in trouble. So I think that just getting my footwork in line, and really being the best leader I can be this year is the biggest goal I have.”

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