If things go according to plan, defensive lineman Zach Harrison of Olentangy Orange — the No. 4 overall prospect in the nation and No. 1 in Ohio — will call up Twitter the morning of Dec. 19 and make it a good day for some school’s coaching staff and fan base.
It could be Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State, all of whom remain in the hunt for the last major uncommitted prospect in the Midwest.
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“He is entertaining most of the coaching staffs (from the final three) this week, then he’ll kind of shut it down over the weekend, try to go through his pros and cons lists one more time,” Orange coach Zebb Schroeder said Wednesday. “He doesn’t want any fanfare with it. We’re not planning on doing anything special at the school. … I don’t anticipate any decision to be announced prior to the 19th.”
Harrison could become the crown jewel in the first recruiting class for incoming Ohio State coach Ryan Day, who is being promoted from offensive coordinator and will take over the program from Urban Meyer after the Rose Bowl against Washington on Jan. 1.
The Buckeyes have hung onto the 15 players already committed since Meyer announced his retirement last week and added one name to the group, linebacker Tommy Eichenberg of Cleveland St. Ignatius.
With relentless attention from defensive line coach Larry Johnson now augmented by increased efforts from Day, the Buckeyes have hung in there with Harrison, too, Schroeder said.
“I think Zach recognizes and appreciated how hard coach Meyer worked in his recruitment and what a program he's built,” Schroeder said. “At the same time, he was trying to make a decision not based on the head coach, because in his mind, coaches can leave.
“All the things that were on his 'pros' list at OSU — coach Johnson, the school, the alumni connections, the football success — are still in play with coach Day.”
Bucknuts analyst Bill Kurelic said the majority of the 16 committed players are expected to sign Dec. 19, although a couple might wait until the traditional signing period in February.
For example, a pair of five-star recruits — receiver Garrett Wilson of Lake Travis High School outside Austin, Texas, and center Harry Miller of Buford, Georgia — reaffirmed their pledges to Ohio State in the past week, but four-star offensive lineman Doug Nester of Spring Valley High School in Huntington, West Virginia, has expressed interest in visiting other schools, though he has remained committed.
In a similar situation is safety Jordan Battle of Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who remains committed to Ohio State.
“Jordan Battle, he is going to sign with somebody on the 19th, but the question is with whom, Ohio State or Alabama?” Kurelic said. “I still think it is going to be Ohio State, but it’s not a done deal.”