The Ohio State football program already had one of the nation’s top recruiting classes as Feb. 3, the date of this year’s National Signing Day, inched closer. But a wave of three major verbal commitments crashed upon the shores of the college football world Monday , which now leaves coach Urban Meyer’s 2016 class sitting alone at the top, according to multiple outlets.
Scout.com, 247Sports and Rivals all now have the Buckeyes owning the No. 1 spot after the addition of a trio of four-star prospects. The three outlets each had OSU with the third-ranked class prior to the announcements.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins, linebacker Keandre Jones and wide receiver Binjimen Victor all declared on Martin Luther King Jr. Day their plans to play collegiately in Columbus, bringing the number of commitments for Meyer in his 2016 class to 21.
Victor’s destination was largely up in the air until around noon on Monday when he posted on Twitter, whereas Haskins and Jones were previously verbally committed to Maryland.
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native Victor had narrowed his choices down to West Virginia, Tennessee and OSU before selecting the Scarlet and Gray.
“I would like to thank everyone for being there for me throughout this whole recruiting process,” he wrote in a screenshot on his Twitter.
Victor continued, writing that there was only “one school” that he could see himself playing for, and that was OSU.
With receivers Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall departing for the NFL draft, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the pass-catchers for OSU next season. Whether Victor will be able to contribute as a true freshman remains to be seen, of course, but even if he doesn’t contribute in 2016, he will likely make an impact somewhere down the line.
For Victor, who played in the Army All-American Game in January, to step in and play right away, he will need to add weight to his slender 6-foot-4 frame. Currently, he listed at just 177 pounds.
That number will have to increase for him to step on the field this fall, as college football is much more physical than high school and he might not hold up playing at that weight. Fortunately for Victor and his new team, OSU strength coach Mickey Marotti is considered one of the best in the business.
Even though OSU returns redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, the addition of Haskins to the recruiting class is an enormous lift.
Meyer and the Buckeyes had been targeting Haskins for quite some time, according to Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com, but the Potomac, Maryland, native chose to stay in-state and play for the Terrapins after OSU received a verbal commitment from Tristen Wallace, a four-star athlete from Texas.
Wallace changed his mind, though, and chose to play wide receiver at Oregon. Once that happened and Maryland fired Randy Edsall, the door for Meyer to land Haskins swung open, Wasserman reported.
Haskins walked through the door, locked it and all but threw away the key Monday. He announced his intent to become a Buckeye in an essay posted to a blog powered by Weebly, to which he tweeted the link.
The 6-foot-2, 188-pounder discussed his reasons for decommitting, which largely centered on Edsall’s firing, before telling the world where he would play collegiately.
“At the age of 8 years old, I went to numerous Ohio State camps, loved watching their games and idolized the university,” Haskins wrote. “Finally, my dream to attend Ohio State will come true.”
Barring any unforeseen injuries, which, based off recent history, wouldn’t be unheard of for OSU, Haskins is unlikely to contribute right away. But, 247Sports’ seventh-ranked pro-style quarterback is certainly a guy Meyer would entrust at the helm of his offense, based upon his vigorous recruitment of Haskins.
Making the flip-flop from Maryland to OSU along with Haskins was Jones, the four-star linebacker from Olney, Maryland.
Pegged by 247Sports as the No. 9 linebacker, Jones’ journey to Columbus was an interesting one. Wasserman reported Jones was a “surprise Ohio State official visitor” over the weekend.
By sunset Monday, he had already declared his intentions to switch to OSU. Haskins posted a picture of himself with Jones on his Twitter account, saying they are “like brothers.”
Jones, who Rivals.com lists as a five-star prospect, joins a linebacking unit at OSU that lost two starters. Although there is plenty of talent already at linebacker for the Buckeyes, such as juniors Raekwon McMillan and Chris Worley, tossing Jones in the mix is certainly not a bad thing.
With all three players, just how much they play in 2016 remains unseen but for a program to maintain success over long periods of time, like OSU always does, these types of commitments are the foundation for prolonged dominance.
They, however, might not be the last of splashes that the Buckeyes make from now until National Signing Day on Feb. 3.
“Big day for the Buckeyes!” OSU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner tweeted Monday. “More to come!!”