Ohio State football won’t take the field again until Aug. 31 when Florida Atlantic comes to town to kick off the 2019 season.
That makes this weekend the most important for the program between now and then.
Here are five things to know about two days that could go a long way toward deciding what first-year coach Ryan Day’s first full-year recruiting class looks like:
1. Day and his staff are set to host 15 visitors according to Rivals.com, including verbal commits Paris Johnson Jr., a five-star offensive lineman from Cincinnati, and Grant Toutant, a three-star offensive lineman from Warren, Mich.
Also set to be in town are Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic running back Sam Adams; Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day defensive end Kedrick Bingley-Jones; Dedham (Ma.) Noble and Greenough School tight end Cam Large; West Bloomfield, Mich., safety Makari Paige; La Habra, Calif., cornerback Clark Phillips; Tuscon (Ariz.) Salpointe safety Lathan Ransom; Muskegon, Mich., athlete Cameron Martinez; Deerfield Beach, Fla., running back Jaylan Knighton; Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep linebacker Cody Simon; Cincinnati Princeton defensive end Darrion Henry; Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco linebacker Kourt Williams and Cincinnati Elder tight end Joe Royer.
2. Tight ends and defensive prospects are in focus.
“There could be some answers coming out this weekend in terms of what they are going to do at tight end and certainly if not this weekend in the near-term as all of those guys are looking to announce fairly soon,” said Marc Givler, who covers recruiting for BuckeyeGrove.com and the Rivals Network.
“Defensively they just picked up their second commitment (Ty Hamilton of Pickerington Central) over the weekend but still have a lot of gaps to fill, and there are several commitment candidates. Clark Phillips announcing Friday afternoon certainly looks like very good news for Ohio State, and they have some top priorities like Kourt Williams, Cody Simon and Darrion Henry who could be looking to decide soon as well.”
3. The Buckeyes might get a commitment before the weekend gets started.
Phillips, a four-star prospect and the No. 4 cornerback in the 247Sports Composite national rankings, is scheduled to announce his verbal commitment at 3 p.m. Friday.
247Sports recruiting analyst Bill Greene also expects him to be a Buckeye and pegged Royer, Henry and Williams as likely future Buckeyes as well, though that does not mean they will commit on the spot.
“I think this will be a very productive weekend for (Ohio State),” Greene said. “The seeds are being planted here and things will be firmed up here and we’ll see some announcements in the next week to 10 days.”
4. It’s so far, so good for Day.
In the 247Sports Composite rankings, Ohio State’s class ranks No. 7 in the nation and tops the Big Ten heading into the weekend. Rivals also has the Buckeyes No. 1 in the conference with the class eighth in the country.
That comes on the heels of Day signing a 2019 class ranked No. 14 nationally and No. 3 in the Big Ten despite Urban Meyer announcing in December he would retire.
“I know fans want the No. 1 recruiting class and they think Ohio State is going to go undefeated this year and win the national championship,” Greene said. “It’s great to think that way, but realistically for Ryan Day to have a top 10 class his first time out…He’s never been a head coach before. He’s got a lot of new staff members.
“I think what they’ve done so far is pretty amazing. We’ve got to see what the final product is in February, but I think they’re set up to be closer to five than 10, and that’s amazing.”
5. This will mark the end of a chapter in the 2020 recruiting cycle.
An NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period starts June 24 and lasts until July 25, when a quiet period begins.
By then, season preparations will have begun for the Buckeyes and high schoolers across the country.
“Once you get the Fourth of July things move quickly,” Greene said. “You’re into the season, and that kind of brings up a separate phase of recruiting. They’re gonna be starting two-a-days and then when official visits start back up on game weekends, I think they’re going to be thrilled with where they’re sitting.”
He projects the Ohio State class to end up ranking somewhere between fifth and 10th nationally.
“That’s great. If you’re in the top 15 in recruiting everywhere then you’re going to be a championship contender. You don’t have to be top two every year, but you can’t be No. 30.”