Ohio State recruiting: Buckeyes kick off major visit weekend; names to keep an eye on

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Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.

Ohio State kicks off major visit weekend

Spring football presents a major opportunity for college football programs to host top prospects on campus and show them what’s expected in college — both on the field and in day-to-day routines. Ohio State has been taking full advantage of that opportunity early on this spring.

On Tuesday, the Buckeyes played host to 2019 offensive line commit Doug Nester, local 2019 running back John Branham Jr., and his younger brother, 2020 wide receiver Kalil Branham. That was the first day of spring practice in Columbus. So when Thursday rolled around, it’s only fitting that the list of visitors grew.

Specifically, the Buckeyes hosted three targets Thursday, and all three are out-of-state 4-star prospects.

Council Bluffs (Iowa) Lewis Central quarterback Max Duggan, the No. 7 dual-threat passer in the 2019 class per the 247Sports composite, made his first trip to Ohio State as a recruit after being offered early in December. Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, and, to a lesser extent, Penn State and Iowa State are also recruiting Duggan. Out-of-region programs such as North Carolina and TCU have been involved as well. Duggan previewed his Ohio State visit with Land of 10 and you can read about it here.

The other quarterback on campus was Texas native Grant Gunnell, the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in 2019 and a recent Texas A&M de-commit. Gunnell was offered on Feb. 13, adding Ohio State to a list of nearly 40 Division I offers. This was his first unofficial visit to Columbus, as well. Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, and Arkansas are a few of the programs in the mix. He was expected to visit alongside his Houston St. Pius X teammate and the No. 18 wide receiver in the 2019 class, Jalen Curry, but Ohio State sources confirmed that Curry did not make the trip.

Curry was replaced by another 4-star prospect and somewhat of a surprise visitor. As first reported by Eleven Warriors recruiting analyst Andrew Lind, Ohio State hosted 4-star tackle Trevor Keegan of Crystal Lake (Ill.). Keegan is a 6-foot-6, 310-pound prospect and the No. 16 tackle in the 2019 class. Ohio State offered Keegan during his visit, joining Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Georgia, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Nebraska among his 20-plus scholarship offers. Ohio State has been in contact for several months.

Land of 10 will be in touch with all of the visitors this week. Keep your eyes peeled for notes and news on the major visit weekend.

Buckeyes offer Jahleel Billingsley

Ohio State’s offer bonanza at tight end has continued into the second week of March. The Buckeyes have offered only 11 tight ends total in the 2019 class, but seven have come within the last six weeks. That includes Ohio State’s latest offer, to Chicago Phillips Academy tight end Jahleel Billingsley. Billingsley already held an impressive list of offers — Penn State, Michigan and Florida to name a few. He has more than a dozen Power 5 offers.

Interestingly enough, Ohio State’s offer to Billingsley was nearly immediately followed by a quick rush of Crystal Ball predictions in the Buckeyes’ favor. The Buckeyes don’t usually heavily recruit the Chicagoland area, but have landed three prospects from the Midwestern metropolis during Urban Meyer’s tenure — Jamarco Jones and Dylan Thompson in 2014 and Tuf Borland in 2016.

Keep an eye on Andrew Kristofic

We’ve spoken frequently about Ohio State’s recruiting efforts along the offensive line and how critical the position will be in determining the success of the 2019 recruiting class. Ohio State already has two O-line in Ryan Jacoby and the aforementioned Nester. Both 4-star prospects, Jacoby likely projects as a tackle and Nester is most likely to end up at guard. Ohio State will look to take a center in this class as well, but the rest of the class could be filled out with players who likely project to tackle.

Many names have justifiably found their way to the top of conversations topics for Ohio State recruiting followers. 4-star prospects such as Harry Miller, Michigan commit Nolan Rumler and Zeke Correll have emerged as the most likely center options for the Buckeyes. There’s a longer list of prospects at tackle — 5-star recruits including Darnell Wright and Devontae Dobbs and 4-star standouts such as Quinn Carroll, Xavier Truss, Keegan, John Olmstead, and Michael Tarquin are some of the top options.

However, it’s Ohio State’s lone 3-star tackle offer who has been an intriguing topic to discuss on the recruiting trail lately.

Gibsonia (Pa.) Pine-Richland tackle Andrew Kristofic has been stacking up offers left and right. In the last nine months, Kristofic has landed more than two dozen offers. Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pitt, and many other programs have given scholarships to the Pittsburgh-area standout. Kristofic is a player who I feel is greatly underrated by recruiting services at the moment, checking in as only the No. 52 tackle in the 247Sports composite 2019 rankings.

Kristofic is one of just a handful of linemen who are currently “takes” for the Ohio State staff. He’s a legitimate 6-6, 270-pound athlete with a long wingspan and the quick feet needed to move and stay in front of the top edge rushers in the country. I’ve been covering Kristofic since his sophomore season and have seen him continually grow — on and off the field. — excelling on Pine-Richland’s state champion in Pennsylvania’s largest classification this fall and anchoring the Rams’ basketball squad as the center.

I’ve been speaking with a number of sources close to this recruitment from several different angles and everything I’m hearing seems to be pointing to a two-team battle at the top of Kristofic’s recruitment between Notre Dame and Ohio State. To a lesser extent, Clemson, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and Pitt (likely in that order) are in the mix for Kristofic, as well. It will be worth watching to see if Penn State chooses to offer, as that could be a shake-up for the Pennsylvania native.

The schools which have stood out to Kristofic have shown a competitive package of football excellence, a big-time environment, and academics that stand out to an elite recruit regardless of the football program.

Notre Dame has some help after signing Kristofic’s quarterback in 2018, All-American passer Phil Jurkovec, and generally cleaning up in the Pittsburgh area in some recent recruiting classes. But the Irish have yet to host Kristofic for an unofficial visit. Ohio State has had him on campus twice, first in October for the Penn State game and more recently in late January. Wisconsin and Pitt hosted Kristofic for unofficial visits during the season and Virginia Tech hosted the big tackle in February. Kristofic’s schedule has been ambitious, but it would be even more prolific if he didn’t go deep into the playoffs in both basketball and football.

Ohio State has impressed upon Kristofic that he’s at or near the top of their wish list at tackle, alongside the 5-star prospects with higher billing. The Buckeyes have pitched Kristofic on their annual championship contention, the resources available on and off the field, the elite (and improving) academic profile of the university, their track record of sending top linemen to the NFL, and the openings on the depth chart they’ll have early in Kristofic’s career.

All of those factors, combined with Kristofic’s close relationship with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, have made the Buckeyes a potent contender. Don’t sleep on Kristofic just because his ranking doesn’t match up with some other targets, he’s as much of a priority as any lineman in this class.

Miss a day of the Ohio State recruiting notebook? Don’t fret! You can get all of the previous versions of Dotting the Eyes here.

The post Ohio State recruiting: Buckeyes kick off major visit weekend; names to keep an eye on appeared first on Land of 10.

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