In its fifth season as a staple in the summer recruiting period for Ohio State football, Friday Night Lights hosted and showcased an abundance of high school talent from across the nation in front of fans, coaches, former and current players, and media.
It had been more than three months since the annual spring game, which means Buckeye fans everywhere salivated at any glimpse of football they could get.
Currently boasting the No. 1 ranked class in 2017, OSU put on an all-out blitz for some of the nation’s prized recruits.
The recruiting spectacle that took place in Ohio Stadium on Friday night was designed from the brain trust of coach Urban Meyer and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni. When the two put together the event’s inauguration in 2012, the amount of talent present in 2016 inside the ‘Shoe on a random Friday night in July is what Pantoni and Meyer envisioned from the start.
This was the first opportunity many fans got a chance to see Buckeye commits in action, including 2017 quarterbacks Danny Clark and No. 1 dual-threat quarterback Tate Martell. 2018 four-star quarterback target Emory Jones also showed off his talent and has been drawing some serious interest from the OSU staff since Jones said the Buckeyes were his front-runner in June. Martell has dominated the media covering recruiting since his commitment on June 12, but Clark, who has been committed since his freshman season, was sharp all night.
Clark told reporters after the event that he came to Columbus to “prove I’m the best quarterback in the 2017 class.” The class of 2017 quarterbacks could be a battle to watch, especially with current Buckeye freshman Dwayne Haskins Jr. and redshirt freshman Joe Burrow already in the mix.
OSU has also been recruiting wide receivers heavily for 2017, and rightfully so.
Five-star wideouts Donovan Peoples-Jones, Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey all have OSU high on their lists of schools they’re interested in. Peoples-Jones was not in attendance, and Grimes did not participate and hung out alongside Meyer all night, but Lindsey shined all five stars on Friday night. At times, it seemed like Lindsey was the only person in a drill because his combination of immaculate speed and shiftiness allowed him consistently to create five yards between him and the defender.
However, Lindsey arguably wasn’t the most impressive at FNL. 2017 four-star receiver Jaylen Harris displayed great hands showing the ability to catch the ball with contact, and plus-quickness with his size of 6-foot-5, 210 pounds.
Harris took a nasty fall during a rep where he went up to catch the ball and landed hard on his face and right shoulder. He was surrounded by medical staff for a few minutes before walking to a cart on his own where he was taken to be evaluated. Harris owns a Buckeye offer.
Along with Lindsey and Harris performing well, the quarterbacks mentioned before showed inconsistency with throws but had plenty of highlights that pleased the small crowd.
OSU tallied two commitments in 2015 from current freshman tight end Luke Farrell and 2017 kicker Blake Haubeil. On Friday, the catch was a little greater as to be expected with a large pool of talent.
Four-star defensive end Chase Young committed to the Buckeyes at FNL making that No. 15 for the class of 2017. Young is ranked as the third best weak-side defensive end in his class. Young said that he believes he is the best in his class.
Four-star running back Brian Snead also made a pledge to Meyer’s program, becoming the first to do so for the 2018 recruiting class.
On Saturday, defensive back Amir Riep from Colerain High School in Cincinnati announced his decision to play for the Buckeyes. Riep attended FNL but did not participate, and it appears it made quite the impact on him.
A couple dates to keep an eye on in the future will be Aug. 22 and Aug. 24 when Lindsey and Grimes announce their decisions, respectively.