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tBBC 2016 Friday Night Lights Preview

Ben van Ooyen

2016 Friday Night Lights Preview
Ben van Ooyen
via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here


Friday Night Lights has become an annual staple since Urban Meyer came to Columbus, and the Buckeyes will once again host a slew of top talent from across the nation at the Horseshoe tonight. Let’s take a look at who will be there and if we can expect any commitments out of the group.

Tate Martell, Josh Myers, Brendon White, Jerron Cage, Danny Clark, and Antjuan Simmons are among the currently-committed Buckeyes who will be in attendance. These guys will certainly have their recruiting hats on trying to sway guys to pick the Scarlet and Grey.

Martell will especially be in the ear of his former high school teammate Tyjon Lindsey to convince him to join the top class in the nation with him. Martell and Lindsey played at Bishop-Gorman High School together before Lindsey left for Calabasas this year. They remain close friends, and I’m sure playing together again has crossed their minds. Lindsey still seems torn between Ohio State and Nebraska – he’s made multiple unofficial visits to the Cornhuskers – so Martell might be key to getting him to Columbus.

Trevon Grimes will also be in town this weekend. Though he won’t officially decide until August, most experts have him pegged as a done deal to Ohio State. I expect Martell to try to form a connection with Grimes – if he hasn’t already – and more or less lock up Grimes’ decision before he leaves Friday Night Lights.

Jaylen Harris, from Cleveland Heights, will also participate on Friday night. He has an offer from Ohio State, but with the number situation as tight as it is, the possibility of the Buckeyes landing Lindsey and Grimes, and an outside shot at Donovan Peoples-Jones, it’s unlikely Harris will be a part of the 2017 recruiting class.

Like their offensive teammates, the defensive commitments will be buttering up the uncommitted prospects on their side of the ball. Amir Riep will make his decision on Saturday after camping Friday night. Most have him pegged to pick the Buckeyes – 96% of the crystal balls point towards Columbus. He canceled his visits to Alabama and Michigan State this week, so all signs point to him picking the Buckeyes Saturday at 1pm. He would be commitment #15 in the class of 2017 unless someone else beats him to the punch.

Chase Young, the highly touted defensive end out of Maryland, is another five-star prospect who is high on the Buckeyes. Right now it looks to be a choice between the Buckeyes and the Terrapins, and having him on campus again around many future and past Buckeyes will surely help our case. Although I think his recruitment drags out a bit longer, I do see him being a part of this Ohio State class in the end.

Lamont Wade and Darnay Holmes are two guys who might’ve been Buckeyes if there were more scholarships to go around. Wade considered committing a while back, but he held off due to the uncertainty surrounding his ability to enroll early. Now it looks like he’s probably off to Happy Valley. Holmes plays with Tyjon Lindsey at Calabasas, and while he likes Ohio State, I think he stays out west and picks UCLA or Stanford. There’s an outside chance, however, that Lindsay and Holmes are a package deal to Nebraska, since they’ve both visited there quite a few times and have the Huskers high on their lists. There is also the possibility that Shaun Wade, a current commit at defensive back, ends up not being a part of this class. Then Holmes and Lindsay could be a package deal to Ohio State.

With the 2017 getting full, let’s turn our attention to the kids from 2018 and beyond who will be at Friday Night Lights.

The main story line for me is the quarterback for the 2018 class. Emory Jones is the guy. He knows it, and I expect him to pick the Buckeyes any minute. He could commit this weekend while at Friday Night Lights, but I expect this to drag out a bit longer. Once that’s a done deal, I believe the Buckeyes will be done at quarterback for 2018. If Jones decides to go to Tennessee instead, then Ohio State will have to look elsewhere for a quarterback.

Quite a few running backs from the class of 2018 will be on hand, and the one to keep an eye on is Jaelen Gill. He hails from Westerville, Ohio, and most believe he will end up in Scarlet and Grey. Brian Snead and T.J. Pledger are two more backs who will be on hand; both have offers from Ohio State, but Snead is the most likely to end up at Ohio State. Pledger is making it interesting, however, because he just visited last week, and now he’s back again to camp. Visiting a school twice on your own dime indicates some serious interest in the program. I don’t think any of these three will commit this weekend, but I do expect Gill to be a part of this class down the road.

There will also be a lot of talented wide receivers in the ‘Shoe Friday. Jermaine Eskridge, L’Christian Smith, Joseph Scates, and Paul Woods are some of the names expected to be in attendance. Eskridge is from Tampa, Florida, and right now his crystal ball predictions have him 50/50 to Kentucky and Florida. Smith, from Dayton, holds 11 offers currently, and most expect him to end up at Ohio State. The bigger question, however, is what position he’ll play in college. Bill Greene over at Scout sees him more as a tight end at the collegiate level, but Smith might want to stay at receiver. That could complicate his recruitment if the Buckeyes see him as a tight end. Scates and Woods don’t hold offers from Ohio State yet, so both will be trying to prove they deserve one.

Two of the highest-rated tight ends of the class of 2018 will be in attendance in Zack Kuntz and Jeremy Ruckert. Recently, they’ve both been busy visiting programs like Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida State. After probably skipping a tight end in 2017, Ohio State will be going hard to land a top flight athlete in this class. I’m not sure the Buckeyes will land Kuntz or Ruckert, but if they convince L’ Christian Smith to be a tight end at the college level, they may have their guy.

The biggest offensive lineman who’s committed to Friday Night Lights is Jack Carman, and he’s a big one at that. Carman is a consensus five-star player, and the Buckeyes currently lead in his recruitment. It’s certainly possible he decides to become a Buckeye this weekend, as all the crystal ball predictions line up with Ohio State so far. I don’t see him making the pledge this weekend, however, but I think a decision for the Buckeyes is probably in the cards. Blaine Scott another 2018 offensive lineman has committed to attending Friday Night Lights, but will not be participating. He does not hold an Ohio State offer yet, but I do expect that to change, and it could happen tonight.

On the defensive line, the Buckeyes will see Leonard Taylor for the second time since he committed to the Wolverines. Taylor hasn’t been back to Michigan since he committed, and visiting Ohio State twice shows he’s probably got some interest left in the Buckeyes. I don’t think he’d be wearing Ohio State clothes and visiting multiple times if there wasn’t some legitimate interest, and I think this one could end up in Ohio State’s favor down the line.

Matthew Jones, the big defensive tackle from New York, will also be camping this weekend. He’s high on the Buckeyes, and 100% of the crystal ball predictions have him coming to Ohio State right now. Alex Reigelsperger and Aeneas Hawkins are two Ohio kids who will be in attendance looking to receive an offer. Dallas Gant and Christopher Oats, two huge in-state targets, will be in camp as well. Both have Ohio State offers, and both are projected to be in the Buckeye class of 2018. Oats is one to watch this weekend for a possible early commitment.

At defensive back, the Buckeyes will see Big Ten legacy prospect Houston Griffith, the son of Big Ten analyst and former Illinois star Howard Griffith. Griffith has been on a bit of a recruiting hot streak lately. He’s picked up a lot of offers recently, and he’s crystal-balled to Notre Dame; however, he’s transferring to the IMG Academy this fall for football, and Ohio State has quite a presence down there.

Xavier Henderson, out of Pickerington, is a defensive back who will be working hard to convince the Buckeyes he is offer worthy. I believe he’ll snag an offer from the Buckeyes, and they’ll battle Michigan State and Kentucky for his services.

Some 2019 and 2020 kids will also be in attendance. Xavier Goldsmith plays at Cass Tech in Michigan, and Ohio State is really familiar with that program. Expect some interest from the Buckeyes once the focus turns toward 2019. Antonio Alfano is from New Jersey, and, like Goldsmith, does not hold an offer from the Buckeyes yet. Miquan Grace is 14-year-old freshman cornerback who already has offers from Kentucky and Cincinnati. He’s already started making trips to colleges and is expected to be one of the top athletes in the class of 2020. All three of these guys will be looking to earn offers this weekend while camping at OSU.

Friday Night lights is always a big deal for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, and this year is no different. Ohio State is recruiting on a level unseen in Columbus, and the Buckeyes will have some of the top prospects in the nation attending this camp to build relationships and see what the Ohio State brand is all about. We’ve seen some commitments out of this camp before, and I expect to see some this weekend as well. Not counting Amir Riep, who I think will select the Buckeyes on Saturday, I see at least two other kids publically committing this weekend. A few more will probably issue their silent pledges and wait for their announcement date. As always, Friday Night Lights will be enjoyable and exciting if you are a fan of Ohio State football and recruiting.

The post 2016 Friday Night Lights Preview appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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