football

Where will the Midwest's best commit in 2018?

With the 2017 recruiting cycle concluding earlier this month, the class of 2018 is now front and center. In the Midwest, there are several interesting recruitments developing, starting with the No. 2 overall prospect in the class, Ohio offensive tackle Jackson Carman.

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Outlook: Going into the weekend, the possibility that Carman would make a commitment to Ohio State during his unofficial visit to Columbus was legitimate enough that I had contingency plans for this column in case he was no longer available. Although he has stuck to a timeframe of deciding after his senior season, Ohio State appears to be the clear team to beat and it did not seem implausible that he could decide to end it all now. The chase for 2018’s No. 2 overall prospect continues, but every other program knows it is chasing the home-state Buckeyes here.

Way-too-early prediction: Ohio State

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Outlook: A unique athlete who has the size of a tight end but the explosiveness and athleticism of a wide receiver, Smith is still deciding whether he wants to play football or basketball in college. Based on my discussions with basketball analysts, his potential on the gridiron is much higher and he should end up picking football. Ohio State has been tabbed as the early team to beat, but in the end I see Smith choosing to pave a unique path and I suspect that will be to the SEC.

Way-too-early prediction: Alabama

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Outlook: As we start to move down this list, it becomes apparent that Ohio State could have cleaned up with the Midwest’s Rivals100 prospects, but at least in Trout’s case they made a misstep early. The Buckeyes were the clear, early favorite, but a summer camp appearance in Columbus did not yield an offer and Trout was not impressed with the feedback he got from the Buckeyes' coaches. There is still a strong connection there because of fellow Missouri native Ezekiel Elliott, but the hole dug early is likely too big to overcome and that offer still has not materialized.

Way-too-early prediction: Nebraska

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Outlook: Like Carman, Gill looks destined to stay in-state and it is likely just a matter of time before it is made official. The Buckeyes have not made any missteps here. They were one of the first offers for the dynamic back and have been recruiting him since before his prep career even began. For his part, Gill is being diplomatic about the whole process, taking visits and saying he will wait until his senior year to make a decision. No matter what happens in his recruitment between now and next year, though, it is hard to see the Columbus-area prospect signing with anyone but Ohio State.

Way-too-early prediction: Ohio State

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Outlook: Moore has been in our top 100 players since the first ranking of the 2018 class, but his offer list is only now starting to catch up. In the last month, he has added offers from Alabama, Baylor, Ole Miss, Miami, Texas and Louisville. The one that is most interesting from that group is Texas. The Oklahoma Sooners went into the Lone Star State and out-recruited their Big 12 rival for the state’s top talent in 2016, and Tom Herman would love to exact some revenge by pulling top talent out of Bob Stoops’ backyard in 2018.

Way-too-early prediction: Texas

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Outlook: This is probably the most difficult recruitment on this list to project, primarily because Babb has such a wide range of offers and has thus far been wide open to learning and experiencing an array of college opportunities. His plan is to take all five official visits before making a college decision, so this recruitment is unlikely to conclude prior to next winter. Looking that far into the future from today’s standpoint, a decision for any of the major Power Five conferences would not surprise. This, then, is a wild guess…

Way-too-early prediction: Michigan State

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Outlook: McCall is another top-100 prospect whose offer list seems shy of his talent at this stage, especially considering his versatility of playing on either side of the line in college. This spring should see a greater number of offers roll in, but in the meantime he has an eclectic list of 10 schools ranging from in-state programs Michigan and Michigan State to southern schools like Mississippi State and TCU. Interestingly, McCall did not mention the in-state schools prominently in our last discussion, but it still appears likely he stays home for college.

Way-too-early prediction: Michigan

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