Ohio State goes into national signing day No. II on Wednesday with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, according to the 247sports composite of the major recruiting services.
And the Buckeyes have a good shot at holding off Georgia and Texas for the top spot if Nicholas Petit-Frere signs with OSU, as several experts were forecasting Tuesday.
The No. 1 offensive tackle prospect nationally, the five-star Frere, from Tampa, Florida, was considering OSU, Florida, Alabama, Notre Dame and Michigan headed into his last official visit last weekend, which was at Ohio State. But Tuesday, several members of the 247sports analyst team, including Josh Newberg and Bill Kurelic (of Bucknuts), forecast Petit-Frere to sign with OSU.
“Final 247CrystalBall prediction for nation's No. 1 OT Nicholas Petit-Frere is for OhioState,” the website’s director of recruiting Steve Wiltfong wrote on Twitter.
Petit-Frere planned to keep his choice private until the 10 a.m. hour on ESPNU, when he will be one of several major prospects revealing their decisions. His coach, Dominic Ciao, told The Dispatch that the schools involved would be informed before that.
If it holds for OSU, Petit-Frere — the No. 7 overall prospect in the country, according to the composite — would become the highest-ranked member of what’s already considered a sterling seventh OSU recruiting class for coach Urban Meyer. He and his staff secured 21 members during the early signing period on Dec. 20. It was found out later that four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith signed then, too, but he kept it secret until the Under Armour All-America game in January.
Since then the Buckeyes have gained commitments from four-star defensive lineman Tyler Friday of Ramsey, New Jersey, and three-star receiver Chris Olave of San Marcos, California. Along with awaiting official word from Petit-Frere, Ohio State was considered the favorite on Tuesday to add four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste of Oradell, New Jersey, and was still in the running for four-star tackle Rasheed Walker of Waldorf, Maryland.
But No. 2 Georgia and No. 3 Texas also could add high-profile prospects.
“If Texas were to land half, or maybe more than half of the guys left on their board to fill some of those slots, they're the one team that I think could make the surprising big leap from three to one,” ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said. “But I do think if that doesn't happen, if everything doesn't go perfectly for Texas, Ohio State and Georgia would be the two teams jockeying for No. 1.”
Eleven former Buckeyes have been invited to the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis Feb. 27-March 5. Only national champion Alabama, with 14 invitees, had more.
From the OSU offense will be quarterback J.T. Barrett, center Billy Price, tackle Jamarco Jones and tight end Marcus Baugh. From the defense will be ends Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis, linebackers Jerome Baker and Chris Worley, cornerback Denzel Ward and safety Damon Webb. Hubbard, Baker and Ward left OSU with one year of eligibility remaining.