Over the past month, Ohio State has lost commitments from two quarterbacks while landing a commitment from another.
The latest decommitment certainly stings the most as it came from Dylan Raiola, the No. 1 overall prospect in the recruiting class of 2024. Raiola was fully expected to be Ohio State’s quarterback of the future, and replacing him with another quarterback of similar caliber in his class will be no easy task.
Ohio State had hoped to spend the next year building a class around Raiola knowing it had secured the top quarterback in the cycle, but the Buckeyes will instead have to restart their quarterback search all over again.
Such drama is nothing new for Ohio State when it comes to quarterback recruiting, though. Most quarterbacks who have committed to Ohio State as early as Raiola did in recent years haven’t ended up with the Buckeyes, and late twists and turns at the position leading up to signing day – and sometimes even after signing day – have become a nearly annual occurrence for Ohio State.
With Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields and CJ Stroud all becoming Heisman Trophy candidates and first-round NFL draft picks (or at least soon-to-be in Stroud’s case), Ohio State has had as much success at the quarterback position as any other school over the past five years. But none of them were Ohio State’s initial targets in the years they signed with the Buckeyes, and while their success has helped Ohio State recruit more highly touted quarterbacks in recent seasons, the Buckeyes have still often had to rally late in recruiting cycles to sign a quarterback (or quarterbacks) they want.
Fresh off a late change at quarterback in the 2023 class and Raiola sending the Buckeyes back to the drawing board with a year still to go before anyone signs in the 2024 class, here’s a refresher on the roller-coaster that quarterback recruiting has been for Ohio State on an annual basis over the past decade, starting with the 2015 class.
Torrance Gibson was Ohio State’s top quarterback target for much of the 2015 recruiting cycle, but he wasn’t the first quarterback to commit to the Buckeyes in that class. That was Joe Burrow, who committed to the Buckeyes shortly after receiving his offer from Ohio State in May 2014 and had a drama-free recruitment from there as he ultimately signed with the Buckeyes in February (back when there was no early signing period).
Ohio State continued to pursue Gibson even after Burrow’s commitment, though, leaving quarterback recruiting drama all the way up until signing day. Even after his commitment in November, Gibson continued to visit other schools in the weeks leading up to signing day, but ended up giving his national letter of intent to the Buckeyes – although his ever-changing recruitment may have been a sign of things to come , as his time at Ohio State lasted less than a year.
The Buckeyes initially landed their quarterback for the 2016 class the previous April when Tristen Wallace committed to Ohio State, but found themselves back in the market for a quarterback with less than two months to go until national signing day when Wallace flipped to Oregon.
That forced Ohio State to chase a late addition to the class at the quarterback position, but it all ended up working out for the best for the Buckeyes when they were able to flip Dwayne Haskins from Maryland in January. While Wallace never played a snap at Oregon, Haskins went on to shatter Ohio State’s single-season records for passing yards and touchdowns during his lone season as the Buckeyes’ starter in 2018.
While Dwayne Haskins went on to become one of Ohio State’s best passers ever, he wasn’t the Buckeyes’ first choice in the recruiting class of 2016.
Ohio State landed an incredibly early quarterback commitment in the class of 2017 when Danny Clark committed to the Buckeyes in 2013 while he was still just a high school freshman. Clark would remain committed to Ohio State for nearly three years, but he and the Buckeyes eventually parted ways in September 2016, three months after the commitment of Tate Martell – who Ohio State accepted a commitment even though it already had a pledge from Clark.
Martell’s signing with the Buckeyes went forward from there, but Clark – who famously got an Ohio State tattoo after his commitment – is still remembered as a warning sign of how much things change after an early commitment.
As with Raiola in the 2024 cycle, Ohio State thought it had its quarterback for the 2018 class secured early in the process when Emory Jones became the first player to commit to the Buckeyes in that cycle in July 2016. Jones continued to explore his options over the next year-and-a-half, though, ultimately forcing the Buckeyes to look for another quarterback.
That quarterback ended up being Matthew Baldwin, who initially committed to Colorado State but flipped to Ohio State just two weeks before signing day after receiving an offer from the Buckeyes in November. Baldwin would end up being Ohio State’s only quarterback signee in the class as Jones flipped to Florida on signing day.
Ohio State was without a quarterback in the recruiting class of 2019 until just six months before signing day, when D’Wan Mathis committed to the Buckeyes in June 2018. They ended up without a high school quarterback altogether when Mathis flipped to Georgia on signing day , leaving them with no viable options to pursue in the high school ranks.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, they got the better end of the trade with Georgia when Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State in January, giving them an immediate successor to Haskins and one of Ohio State’s best quarterbacks ever for the next two seasons. The Buckeyes had already begun pursuing Fields before Mathis’ flip, so they likely would have gotten him even if Mathis had signed, but adding a transfer quarterback became a necessity for Ohio State when Mathis dropped out of the class.
Ohio State initially appeared to be all set at quarterback for the 2020 recruiting class when Jack Miller committed to the Buckeyes in July 2018. When Martell and Baldwin both transferred away from Ohio State in 2019, however, the Buckeyes found themselves needing a second quarterback in 2020 for additional depth.
They wouldn’t land that second quarterback until the early signing period in December, but the wait proved to be well worth it as the Buckeyes landed their quarterback of the future with Stroud’s signing-day commitment, culminating Ohio State’s late-cycle pursuit of Stroud which began when he impressed future teammates Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming and Gee Scott Jr. during The Opening in June 2019, where he earned Elite 11 MVP honors.
This was the closest Ohio State came to a drama-free quarterback recruiting cycle since Ryan Day arrived in Columbus. Kyle McCord committed to the Buckeyes nearly 20 months before signing day (April 30, 2019) and never wavered in that commitment, allowing Ohio State to build a loaded recruiting class around him.
Ohio State ended up with an unexpected addition to its 2021 recruiting class, though, when Quinn Ewers – who had been committed to the Buckeyes’ 2022 recruiting class – reclassified and joined the team in August. While that didn’t impact McCord, who remained with the Buckeyes and is now in position to potentially succeed Stroud as Ohio State’s starting quarterback next season, it did force the Buckeyes to scramble to sign a quarterback again in 2022.
Kyle McCord was one of Ohio State’s only drama-free quarterback recruitments in recent years.
Much like the situation Ohio State now finds itself in following Raiola’s decommitment, the Buckeyes didn’t have any clear options to replace Ewers – who would transfer to Texas by the time his original recruiting class even signed – after the No. 1 overall prospect’s departure from the 2022 class. Ohio State had stopped recruiting other quarterbacks in the 2022 class after Ewers committed to the Buckeyes in November 2020, leaving them with a lot of ground to make up when Ewers reclassified in August.
A domino ultimately fell in Ohio State’s favor, though, when Devin Brown – who was committed to USC at the time of Ewers’ reclassification – opted to reopen his recruitment following the firing of Clay Helton. The Buckeyes seized the opportunity to pursue Brown and ended up signing the sixth-ranked quarterback in the 2022 class, who will compete with McCord for next year’s starting job.
Barring no more unexpected twists, Ohio State will sign Lincoln Kienholz as its quarterback for the 2023 class on Wednesday. But it took until just one week before the early signing period for the Buckeyes to secure him as their quarterback for the current cycle.
With Ewers initially committed to Ohio State’s 2022 class, the Buckeyes never gained much traction with the class’ top quarterbacks like Arch Manning, Malachi Nelson, Nico Iamaleava and Dante Moore. They were unable to make up ground with those quarterbacks even after Ewers reclassified and eventually offered Brock Glenn in June, landing his commitment 10 days later. But after Glenn’s decommitment in November, Ohio State faced the possibility of going without a quarterback in the 2023 class – which likely would have sent the Buckeyes to the transfer market for quarterback depth – until it flipped Kienholz away from Washington this past week.