OSU hopes for early signing bonus

Tim May
Olentangy Orange's Zach Harrison knocks down Westland's quarterback Deshawn Evans during the 1st quarter of his game at Westland High School on September 21, 2018. [Kyle Robertson/Dispatch]

The first finish line for Ohio State’s 2019 football recruiting class is Wednesday, and the Buckeyes — under incoming coach Ryan Day — hope to cap it with a exclamation point locally.

Olentangy Orange defensive end Zach Harrison, the No. 4 overall prospect in the country according to the 247Sports composite of the major recruiting services, intends to decide among Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan at about 12:30 p.m., Orange coach Zebb Schroeder said. He is expected to make his announcement on social media, including a streaming video on the school’s Twitter feed.

Elsewhere, anticipation is high among recruiting analysts, including Bucknuts’ Bill Kurelic, that three-star defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie of Wake Forest, North Carolina, will pick the Buckeyes over North Carolina when he reveals his decision at about 2:30 p.m.

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Day, named the successor to the retiring Urban Meyer on Dec. 4, and his staff have raced to hang on to most of the commitments the Buckeyes had already gained. At least 13 are expected to sign national letters of intent in the first signing period Wednesday — including five-star talents Garrett Wilson, a receiver from Lake Travis High School outside Austin, Texas, and Harry Miller, a center from Buford, Georgia — with perhaps several to come during the second signing period starting Feb. 6.

“I’m feeling a lot of relief and excitement about signing,” Wilson said. “I can’t wait to get up there on Jan. 6 and start school. It’s going to be a new part of my life I can’t hardly wait to get started.”

He has watched, and helped at times with phone calls to his fellow commitments, as Day and the Ohio State coaches worked to hold the class together in the last two weeks, and before that during Meyer’s suspension from preseason camp and the first three games of the season as Day served as acting coach.

Since Meyer announced his retirement, four-star offensive lineman Doug Nester of Huntington, West Virginia, the first commitment to the class, has opted to keep looking and isn’t expected to sign Wednesday. And four-star defensive back Jordan Battle is said to be considering Alabama even though he has yet to step back from his commitment to Ohio State.

“There’s obviously been a lot of stuff going on around the program,” Wilson said. “The job coach Day did in keeping most of the class together, that was real impressive by him. We still have an impressive class, and I plan for it to get a little bit better before it’s over.”

In addition, 2018 five-star quarterback recruit Justin Fields, who signed with Georgia, is considering transferring after his freshman season. He might have Ohio State near the top of his destinations, along with Oklahoma and Florida State, ESPN reported.

Gaining Harrison on the early signing day would be a boost for an Ohio State class ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten behind Michigan and Penn State, according to Rivals. But Miller, considered the No. 1 center prospect in the country according to the 247Sports composite, said the group will be impressive regardless.

“I’m extremely excited for (Wednesday), especially with the other guys signing with me,” Miller said. “This class is filled with high-character guys, and that’s what makes it so special.”


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