Buckeyes target quarterback from Hawaii

Joey Kaufman
Quarterback Jayden de Laura plays for the same high school that produced such notable major college quarterbacks as Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. [Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

Ohio State’s pursuit of a second quarterback in its 2020 recruiting class extended beyond the U.S. mainland Sunday when it offered a scholarship to Jayden de Laura.

Two days earlier, quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich had visited Honolulu to watch de Laura lead Saint Louis School to a 21-14 win over Punahou to take its league title.

During a phone conversation, Yurcich reviewed de Laura’s performance from the game and was joined by coach Ryan Day, who extended the scholarship offer.

Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our BuckeyeXtra newsletter

“It’s just really shocking,” said de Laura, who added it was “kind of rare” for Hawaii prospects to receive scholarship offers from major college programs.

Before his senior season, he had been a recruit who was largely under the radar. It wasn’t until early October that he netted his first scholarship offer from a Power Five conference school, coming from Washington State. He soon committed to the Cougars.

Depth is the biggest reason that Day hopes to bring in a second quarterback recruit for the class of 2020, something the Buckeyes have done only twice since 2002. It would leave them with four scholarship quarterbacks on their roster for next season.

The passer would follow Jack Miller, a longtime committed four-star prospect from Scottsdale, Arizona, who was one of the first to reaffirm his pledge to Ohio State after the transition from Urban Meyer to Day last December.

During Ohio State’s first off-week during this season, Yurcich made another trip west to offer a scholarship to C.J. Stroud, a four-star quarterback from Rancho Cucamonga, California.

When Yurcich met with de Laura before his game Friday, they reviewed a series of offensive plays during a 15-minute chalk talk, and he also explained the Buckeyes’ quarterback predicament, asking de Laura if he was open to the competition he would face. He wouldn’t be the only passer signed this winter.

“I told him that if you're not open to competition, then why do you play football?” de Laura said. “That was my pitch to him. It was a great talk.”

As a prospect, de Laura is less heralded than some targets, a three-star recruit, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, and the nation’s 24th-ranked pro-style passer. Stroud is ranked fourth nationally.

But de Laura, who is listed at 5 feet 11 and 183 pounds, has seen increased interest from schools this season as he led Saint Louis to a 10-0 start as the team prepares for the state playoffs. Southern California also offered him a scholarship last week.

According to stats kept by his school, de Laura has thrown for 3,063 yards and 26 touchdowns with seven interceptions, completing 73.8 percent of his passes.

He comes from a program that has produced several college quarterbacks, including Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Marcus Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy at Oregon in 2014. Other former FBS quarterbacks such as Timmy Chang, Jason Gesser and Jeremiah Masoli also went to the school.

Saint Louis runs a version of the run-and-shoot offense, and de Laura has been tutored by Vince Passas, a highly regarded quarterbacks coach who has also instructed other young Hawaiian passers, including Tagovailoa.

If de Laura is to flip his commitment from Washington State, it won’t be immediate. He doesn’t have a visit scheduled with Ohio State, and if he does head to Columbus it won’t be until after the season, he said.

He plans to sign with a school in February, during the traditional signing period, rather than in the early signing period in December like Stroud, remaining an option as the Buckeyes look to restock their quarterback room.


Listen to the BuckeyeXtra Football podcast: