The area’s top high school football recruit is liked by all, coveted by many, and told to hang on by Ohio State and others.
What should Central Catholic quarterback DeShone Kizer do?
That’s the question the four-star prospect hopes to clarify as he enters the teeth of his recruitment this summer.
Interest in the 6-foot-5, 210-pound Kizer keeps “trending up,” said Allen Trieu, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com.
Last weekend, he won the Elite 11 quarterback camp regional in Columbus, finishing off a junior year that began with the Fighting Irish celebrating a Division II state championship. He beat out more than 100 prospects from more than 30 states — including top Buckeye target Brandon Harris of Bossier City, La.
Kizer, who captured the event’s “Golden Ticket” based on his game film and performance in a series of passing drills on a blustery Saturday at Ohio State, will compete in the Elite 11 Finals this month in Eugene, Ore.
“I was very shocked,” Kizer told reporters after the tryout. “It wasn’t the best day. I’ve spent a lot of time in preparation for this. I’ve had quite a few good workouts for some colleges, and I didn’t have those same type of workouts here. Coach [Trent] Dilfer said when he was passing out the award, it was the way I picked back up and accepted those bad passes.”
Kizer holds offers from more than half the Big Ten schools — including Michigan State, Nebraska, and Penn State — and LSU and Tennessee among others, a noncommittable offer from Alabama, and a place on the de-facto waiting lists at Ohio State and Notre Dame. He plans to visit Alabama on Thursday, LSU on Friday, and Tennessee in the coming weeks, then possibly add trips to OSU and Notre Dame if the recruiting shuffle falls in his favor.
Ohio State remains interested in Kizer, who possesses prototype size and mobility but also a potent arm that allows him to throw a baseball almost 90 mph and, last fall, pass for more than 1,100 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kizer narrowly missed the cut when Buckeye coaches recently extended their first round of offers to three quarterbacks from the 2014 class — Harris, Zach Darlington of Apopka, Fla., and Kyle Allen of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Already, though, the dominoes are tipping. Allen, rated by Rivals.com and Scout as the country’s top pro-style quarterback, committed Monday to Texas A&M. Harris and Darlington, both highly sought 6-foot-2 dual-threat prospects, are expected to announce their decisions later this summer.
If both choose to go elsewhere, prolong their announcements, or Ohio State coaches receive intelligence they are leaning toward other schools, an offer to Kizer could soon follow. Bucknuts.com and 247sports.com recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic said OSU continues to target Kizer and Missouri’s Rafe Peavey, an Arkansas commit, as quarterback options in the 2014 class.
“[Kizer] is definitely on their board,” Kurelic said. “Depending on what happens with Brandon Harris and Zach Darlington, I think Rafe Peavey and DeShone Kizer would probably be the next two most likely that Ohio State would offer.”
Kizer told reporters at the Elite 11 an offer from OSU would be an honor, noting that his performance at the camp “maybe would spark [coach Urban Meyer’s] eye and help me out a little bit.”
“Being my hometown school, that would be very nice, to have an offer from the big dogs on campus,” Kizer said. “But I don’t necessarily think they would just jump to the top. I’m also considering some very nice schools.”
Kizer said Buckeye quarterbacks coach Tom Herman watched one of his workouts two weeks ago and expressed plans to “re-evaluate” him with Meyer. The Irish star believes this can only be positive. He feels he is improving by the day, a sentiment validated by several observers at the Elite 11 camp.
“We got a chance to see him when he came last year to the event,” Trieu said. “You could see some of the potential, but you could also see where he had improvements to make mechanically, and immediately we noticed he was miles better as far as his technique. You could tell he had put the work in. ... Shortening his release, making it a little bit more compact, and setting his feet, those two things were very noticeably better.”
As for which type of offense he hopes to run in college — say, the pro-style leanings of Alabama or LSU or the spread of Tennessee or OSU — Kizer is confident he can succeed in any system.
“In a spread, I can be very successful,” he said. “That’s what I run back at [Central]. I do a lot of zone-read and moving with my feet. But I also believe in this day and age, being in a pro-style and being able to make some plays and extend the play with your feet, that just adds on to your success. I believe maybe in a pro-style offense I’d be a little more successful, but I don’t really have a preference on where I’d play.”
One thing is clear: Kizer has plenty of options.
Contact David Briggs at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6084, or on Twitter @ DBriggsBlade.