Ohio State wanted Jalen Suggs for football before he became a Gonzaga basketball star

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs celebrates making the game-winning shot against UCLA on Saturday. Suggs was once the 15th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the country.

Before banking in a buzzer-beating shot to clinch a spot for Gonzaga in the NCAA men’s basketball championship game against Baylor on Monday night, Jalen Suggs emerged as a budding football recruit.

In the 2020 recruiting class, he was a three-star prospect and the 15th-ranked dual-threat quarterback, according to composite rankings compiled by 247Sports. Multiple Big Ten schools were in pursuit of the Minneapolis native.

Those interested included Ohio State.

In the spring of 2018, the Buckeyes extended a scholarship offer to Suggs as he was finishing his sophomore year of high school at Minnehaha Academy.

Coach Ryan Day, then the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, recalled on Monday some of the early promise shown by Suggs after he attended a prospect camp at the school.

“We had a conversation with he, his family and friends,” Day said, “and I said I'll do the best I can to get a great evaluation of how we project him out in football and at quarterback.

“We thought he was really athletic and told his family that I thought he could be a really good quarterback. But if he’s as good as they say he is in basketball, that probably would be his best avenue to take. And I’m glad to see it all worked out for him. He’s a great young man.”

Along with leading Gonzaga into the final, where the Bulldogs are on the cusp of winning their first-ever national title, Suggs is viewed as a possible top selection in the NBA draft in July as a versatile 6-foot-4 guard.

More:No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 1 Gonzaga: Keys to victory for men's NCAA Tournament championship game

Suggs has averaged 14.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.9 steals per game in his freshman season.

The other schools in the conference to offer scholarships to Suggs in football included Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Nebraska.

His 247Sports profile also showed an offer from Georgia.

As their quarterback targets in the 2020 recruiting class, the Buckeyes ultimately zeroed in on Jack Miller and C.J. Stroud, highly rated pro-style passers who joined the program last year and are currently competing for the starting quarterback job this spring to replace Justin Fields.

Day recalled watching Suggs during Saturday night’s national semifinal win over UCLA in which he banked in a shot to give Gonzaga the 93-90 triumph in overtime.

He thought it was an “unbelievable” sequence.

“What a game and what a shot,” Day said. “Really happy for him.”

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman