COLUMBUS — What had been suspected for months finally became a reality on national signing day: Quarterback prospect Emory Jones will not play at Ohio State.
Jones, the four-star talent from Georgia who committed to Ohio State before his junior season, flipped to Florida on national signing day.
Urban Meyer's 21-man class is ranked No. 1 in college football.
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The Buckeyes, however, saw the switch coming — and actually made the first move. Ohio State successfully recruited Austin, Texas, quarterback Matthew Baldwin, who issued a firm commitment to OSU earlier this month.
Both players were committed to OSU for about two weeks, leaving the possibility the Buckeyes could sign two quarterbacks. With Baldwin’s national letter of intent already signed Wednesday morning, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer confirmed the Buckeyes would not sign two quarterbacks by the end of the day.
“We just can't numbers-wise,” Meyer said. “I'd take two any time we can, especially in that situation. It's just a little fluid right now.”
Ironically, Ohio State lost out on several notable recruits in the last two weeks and fell one spot in 247Sports’ composite rankings, yet finished with 21 signees and the No. 2 overall ranking.
In addition to Jones, five-star Georgia defensive end Brenton Cox already had backed off his OSU pledge, and the highest-ranked player in Ohio, five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman, chose Clemson over OSU and Southern California on Wednesday.
Even so, the Buckeyes signed the country’s top-rated high school defensive tackle [Taron Vincent], running back [Jaelen Gill], tight end [Jeremy Ruckert], and center [Matthew Jones], as well as the nation’s top junior-college defensive tackle [Antwuan Jackson].
Meyer began his remarks Wednesday by thanking his staff for a successful first December signing day, which he said was hectic.
“I can't remember the urgency that we experienced today or this past two weeks,” Meyer said.
While most players signed as expected, OSU did gain an 11th-hour pledge from four-star St. Louis wide receiver Cameron Brown, the teammate of fellow signee Kamryn Babb.
St. John’s Jesuit linebacker Dallas Gant was the third player to file his paperwork with Ohio State, officially becoming a Buckeye. He will enroll next month and begin his fight to earn playing time.
“I’m excited. I am ready to wait and do my time just like everybody else,” Gant said Tuesday. “When I get the chance to play, I’ll take the opportunity.”
At quarterback, Ohio State felt more than content with Baldwin, who previously was committed to Colorado State.
Ohio State’s pairing with Jones had been on rocky ground since the middle of the season. While committed to OSU, Jones took visits to other schools, and in response, OSU began recruiting other quarterbacks.
Buckeyes quarterback coach Ryan Day took a liking to Baldwin, and forced Meyer to watch game tape of the quarterback before OSU played Penn State in October. When OSU visited Baldwin in December, Meyer said the fit was perfect.
“It was a great high school, one of my first experiences down there,” Meyer said. “That's as good a football as there is in the United States of America. Here he comes in and the kid completes over 70 percent of his passes, takes them to a state championship, and is a monster competitor. Ryan Day did a heck of a job.”
The December signing period was new for everyone, and despite a few high-profile players that chose to play elsewhere, the Buckeyes ended the day feeling great about their class.
“Two weeks of intense travel, home visits, relationship-building in December, and I'm anxious to see how this all plays out and talk to colleagues because everybody is too busy now, but what their thoughts are of the early signing,” Meyer said. “And special thanks to the parents of these incredible families. This is a heck of a group.”
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