Buckeyes focus on offensive line for signing day

Bill Rabinowitz

Anticipation for the first Wednesday in February used to be intense for college football fans. National Signing Day was something of a national holiday — a time for celebrating the annual replenishing of talent and/or bemoaning the ones who got away.

The adoption of the December early-signing day in 2017 has usurped that. The heavy lifting was done six weeks ago when Ohio State signed 15 players. This Wednesday will be more of a dessert than the main course.

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The Buckeyes are focused on signing three players at most, all offensive linemen — Doug Nester, Enokk Vimahi and possibly Dawand Jones.

“For the 2019 class, there really isn’t too much work to do,” Bucknuts recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic said. “They’re pretty much at the scholarship limit right now. They don’t really have a lot of space to add guys.”

That doesn’t mean that Wednesday isn’t important to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are thin on the offensive line, with only 11 scholarship players there.

Technically, Nester is an Ohio State commitment, but the four-star guard didn’t sign in December after the coaching transition from Urban Meyer to Ryan Day was made. Nester, who is from Huntington, West Virginia, also is considering Penn State and Virginia Tech. He took an official visit to Blacksburg, Virginia, this weekend.

“Right now, Ohio State and Penn State would be the favorites, and I would probably give OSU a little advantage, but not much,” Kurelic said.

Vimahi looked like a lock to sign with Southern California before he paused to consider Ohio State. He is the seventh-ranked offensive guard in composite rankings by

After visiting Nester in West Virginia late last week, Day flew to Hawaii to see Vimahi. Since he was announced as the new coach, Day has been on a recruiting whirlwind as he tries to maintain the standard set by Meyer, a tireless recruiter.

So far, so good.

“I think Day is relatable, personable and outgoing, and will resonate with prospects,” ESPN national recruiting director Tom Luginbill said.

Jones, from Indianapolis, is more of a project than Nester or Vimahi. He is listed at 6 feet 8 and 360 pounds, so he probably would have to go into the Mickey Marotti body-reshaping machine before being ready to contribute.

The Buckeyes are only two players under the 85-player scholarship limit now. Usually, at least a couple of players leave the program after spring practice when they fail to climb the depth chart. But that’s unpredictable.

Another complicating factor is the possibility that the Buckeyes could add Rutgers offensive guard Jonah Jackson as a graduate transfer. Jackson was honorable mention All-Big Ten last year. Ohio State, Oklahoma and possibly Alabama are regarded as the favorites to land Jackson.

No matter how many the Buckeyes add on Wednesday, it still will be a smallish recruiting class. That’s the primary reason Ohio State’s class is ranked only 13th by 247Sports.

“This class is about quality, not quantity,” Luginbill said.

Indeed, in terms of rating per recruit, Ohio State trails only Alabama and Georgia. It’s just that the Buckeyes had a small senior class and several players, including K.J. Hill, Jordan Fuller and Malik Harrison, elected to pass up a chance to declare for the NFL draft.

“They just weren’t going to have the space in this class to sign 24-25 guys,” Kurelic said. “Certainly, they didn’t get everybody they wanted. There’s no question about that. But even so, it’s a very good class especially when you factor in the limitations they were under in regards to numbers.”


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