High school football players across the country are set to lock in their college choices Wednesday, decisions that will be felt near and wide.
Here is what you need to know from a local and regional perspective as the second early signing period for college football takes place:
1. Ohio State has another strong class — but not as strong as usual.
This has been a possibility for a while, and the announcement Urban Meyer will retire after the Rose Bowl complicated matters further.
“This will be very different than most National Signing Days in the way that Ohio State is really playing defense instead of offense,” said Kevin Noon, publisher of BuckeyeGrove.com, a site that specializes in recruiting coverage for the Rivals.com network. “With the coaching change, Ryan Day is having to try and secure the commitments that were already in place before the coaching change much more than going out and trying to land players here with the early period starting this week.”
The Buckeyes have signed the Big Ten’s No. 1 class eight years in a row, a streak that is in jeopardy as Michigan’s 25-man class was one spot ahead of OSU at No. 9 in the 247Sports Composite national rankings as of mid-Tuesday.
>>RELATED: Business as usual despite Meyer retiring
Of course, both teams are sure to add prospects in February on the traditional signing day, so whatever happens Wednesday will be subject to change.
“Ohio State could get aggressive, especially going into the late signing period,” Noon said. “At this point however, Ohio State has to try and lock down its signing class and has had to re-recruit everyone in that class at a high level to try and keep other programs away from their committed prospects.”
2. A few unknowns remain.
Ohio State has 16 verbal commitments with the status of two — Jordan Battle, a four-star safety from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and Doug Nester, a four-star offensive lineman from Huntington (W.V.) Spring Valley — in question since the announcement Day will replace Meyer in January.
Battle may end up signing elsewhere Wednesday — potentially Alabama or Oklahoma — while Nester has said he will explore his options and then sign in February.
Then there is Zach Harrison.
A five-star defensive end at Olentangy Orange High School (less than 20 miles north of Ohio Stadium), he is the No. 4 prospect in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.
He has been mostly private about his recruitment but plans to announce his commitment to Ohio State, Penn State or Michigan in a ceremony at his school at 12:30 on Wednesday afternoon.
3. Cincinnati has not kept the pace of last year.
After signing the No. 1 class in the American Athletic Conference last year, Bearcats coach Luke Fickell has the No. 7 class in the AAC at this point.
The Bearcats have 15 verbal commitments, including six from Ohio.
Cincinnati has signed 10 Ohioans and two Cox Media Group Ohio coverage-area prospects each of the past two years.
4. Miami University could sign one of its best classes ever.
Chuck Martin has not quite gotten the RedHawks over the hump on the field five years into a massive rebuilding project, but he continues to excel on the recruiting trail.
Miami has the No. 2 class in the MAC heading into the early signing period, and its No. 72 national ranking would be the best in the 247Sports archives that go back to 2002.
(The 2007 class ranked 76th and Martin’s first full-year class in 2015 ranked 77th.)
Eight of his 28 commitments are from Ohio, including Max Wynn, a three-star linebacker from Centerville.
5. More than a dozen local prospects are expected to lock in their choices.
Northmont linebacker Jestin Jacobs is the top-rated of 12 local players in the 247Sports Composite’s top 50 prospects in Ohio.
He will sign with Iowa while teammate Gabe Newburg, a three-star defensive end, has been committed to Michigan since the summer.
Fairfield tight end Erick All is also a Michigan verbal commitment while Springfield teammates Moses Douglass and Isaiah Gibson have committed to Kentucky.
Another Wildcat, Michael Brown-Stephens, has committed to Minnesota while Alter quarterback Connor Bazelak is headed to Missouri, and Lakota West defensive tackle Stephen Faucheux is a long-time Purdue commit.
Trotwood-Madison tight end Justin Stephens recently committed to Toledo while fellow Ram Jaison Williams has been committed to Akron since June.
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