We continue the Better Know a Buckeye series with its 23rd installment in 2018. Here, we profile Tyler Friday, a defensive lineman from Ramsey, New Jersey.
- Size: 6-3/255
- Position: DE
- Hometown: Ramsey, NJ
- School: Don Bosco Prep
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 93
- Position Ranking: 6 (DT)
- State Ranking: 4 (NJ)
Tyler Friday was another part of a last-minute recruiting blitz for the Buckeyes that focused on the defensive end position. Ohio State had few edge players in its 2018 recruiting class and, when Brenton Cox decommitted on Dec. 6, it had none. Friday held an offer since Dec. 2015 and Ohio State kept the lines open for two years to that point, but his recruitment assumed a greater urgency last November as coaches began to worry about defensive end depth in 2018. Visits from Greg Schiano and Larry Johnson, combined with a great official visit for the Illinois game, led a longtime Michigan lean to forgo the Wolverines and a late push from the Crimson Tide to commit to the Buckeyes.
I retell this recruitment below. I offer a scouting report for a defensive end prospect that looks more like a defensive tackle with an improved pass rush. I suggest it's more likely we wait until 2019 to see Friday in meaningful action and closer with some junior-year highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the feature.
Tyler Friday's recruitment will match how we described the processes that brought Tyreke Smith and Alex Williams into the fold. Ohio State prioritized the defensive end position as it entered crunch time of the 2018 recruiting cycle. It had no commits in the class early in December but was looking at a situation in which it would have just three defensive ends returning from the 2017 roster. The 11th hour pitch to Alex Williams and renewed focus on Tyreke Smith coincided with the same late push that brought Tyler Friday into the class.
More Tyler Friday at 11W
Friday's story is a little different in that Ohio State offered him much earlier than the other defensive ends. Alex Williams received an offer in the middle of last December and committed shortly thereafter. Tyreke Smith had Ohio State's eye for awhile but, having played just two years total of high school football, the coaching staff waited until January 2017 to offer him. Tyler Friday, by contrast, received his offer in December of his sophomore year. It was only his third offer to that point.
— Big Smooth (@almighty_ty5) December 10, 2015
However, it was Michigan, his second offer, that led through most of his recruitment. He fielded a coach's visit in April 2016 before an unofficial visit to Michigan that June. All told, the predictions were unequivocal through almost the entirety of Friday's recruitment that he would end up in Ann Arbor much like Jabrill Peppers and Rashan Gary before him.
These predictions favorable to Michigan belied that Friday had not been too active on the recruiting trail. He took relatively few visits to Michigan and even visited Rutgers, mostly because it was nearby. It means Ohio State still stood as good a chance as anyone entering the home stretch. Indeed, Ohio State appeared in the top five that Friday advertised on his Twitter early last November.
— Big Smooth (@almighty_ty5) November 7, 2017
The exigencies of Ohio State's defensive end depth mattered here. Ohio State kept the lines open because it needed defensive ends in the class but it's important to accentuate the role Schiano played in making Ohio State's pitch to Friday. Schiano is a great recruiter with NCAA and NFL bona fides on his résumé. Further, his legacy at Rutgers still resonates with Garden State prospects.
It helped that Friday's high school coach could speak to Greg Schiano as a coach. Mike Teel, Rutgers' starting quarterback from 2006 to 2008, is Don Bosco Prep's head coach and was with Friday when Schiano came to visit to make the case for the Buckeyes.
Friday's recruitment was coming to a close at the end of November. He visited Ohio State in November for its game against the Illini and came away impressed with the atmosphere of the game and visit. He followed it the next week with an official visit to Michigan, the program to which he leaned the most during the course of his recruitment. Alabama, which was one of Friday's earlier offers and became a factor late into the game as well, hosted him for an official visit a few weeks later.
He hosted coaches from Alabama and Ohio State at his home in New Jersey before making a decision on Jan. 19 of this year.
Tyler Friday committed to Ohio State on Jan. 19 as the 23rd member of what would become its full 2018 recruiting class. He chose Ohio State over several other offers, primarily Alabama and Michigan.
Congratulations to Tyler Friday on his commitment to Ohio State! pic.twitter.com/wTgakh3TKp
— Don Bosco Prep (@DonBoscoIronmen) January 19, 2018
The deciding factor may have been Ohio State's defensive assistants. Greg Schiano's name still resonates in New Jersey even as he left Rutgers in 2011. His turnaround of a moribund Rutgers football program in the mid-2000s coincided the early childhood for New Jersey prospects now evaluating their college choices. Subsequent NFL head-coaching credentials and his time at Ohio State have only bolstered Schiano's name in New Jersey.
Friday also wanted to play for Larry Johnson. Ohio State's defensive line coach has a long pedigree of maximizing talent from his 18-year stint at Penn State and his recruiting prowess, best known in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area, also included the Garden State. Johnson may even be more visible now that he's at Ohio State. It was a major selling point for Tyler Friday.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) February 7, 2018
Friday signed with Ohio State on Feb. 7 and enrolled in June.
WHERE HE EXCELS
There is a lot to like in Friday's film. It's why he was a hot commodity on the recruiting trail late into the cycle and commanded a lot of focus from Alabama's coaches as signing day approached.
Friday is more advanced than his peers on leverage. He has a great knee bend and shows considerable lower body strength that I usually list as areas to improve for defensive linemen. He has an ideal "thick" frame that is conducive to playing either at defensive end or defensive tackle. He adds a great natural pad level as well, never getting too tall at the point of attack.
Think of Friday as a defensive end in a defensive tackle's body, complete with a good burst and a knack for rushing the passer.
MUST WORK ON
Friday is a flexible prospect, and arguably a prospect without a home. He played a lot of offensive line in high school. His talents are best-suited for a defensive end but he could become a defensive tackle if he puts on that much additional weight. Ohio State's "rushmen" package seems to soften a lot of the differences between defensive line positions.
I mention it because I'm of the mentality specialization is optimal and right now Friday resembles a defensive end with defensive tackle frame. He'll have the best of both with the mismatches. He's not as strong or explosive at defensive end and, at 6-3, he's arguably undersized and doesn't have ideal length for an end position.
Further, I'll deviate from how I typically assess defensive line prospects by noting that I wish I saw more upper-body strength in his film. He has a great bend that underscores his lower body strength but I'd like to see more upper body development as he progresses.
This is another judgment call. Friday is good enough to play at Ohio State as a true freshman, at least as a second-teamer that could provide a much-needed spell for one of the starters in games where Ohio State is in a comfortable position later into contests. However, it's unlikely Friday has the kind of instant impact where coaches aren't thinking about preserving his eligibility for 2019. I lean more toward the latter than the former and expect Friday to see the field sparingly enough, given new redshirt rules, that he preserves a year of eligibility.
Here is a junior-year highlight film of Tyler Friday.