Ohio State winning early 2017 recruiting battles with Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Ohio State has set the pace in the 2017 recruiting class and no one is even close to catching up in early March.

Eleven months separate now and the signing day finish line, but the Buckeyes are already doing damage on the recruiting trail across the country. Some of that damage has come at the expense of Notre Dame.

Of Ohio State’s 13 verbal commitments in the 2017 class, nine of those recruits also claimed Notre Dame offers. The trend should be cause for concern, but plenty of time remains for the Irish to push for commitment flips from several of the shared recruiting targets.

In the 2016 class, Notre Dame planted its flag in Ohio by pulling top offensive line prospects Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg out of the state. The Buckeyes wanted both players badly, and even maintained contact with the pair late in the recruiting cycle.

Ohio State may have to worry about the Irish trying to poach in the 2017 class. Several of the Buckeye commits have ties to Notre Dame.

Jerron Cage, the younger brother of Notre Dame defensive tackle Daniel Cage, pledged to Ohio State in July. Cage still visited South Bend for multiple Notre Dame games in the fall.

Ohio State also received a verbal commitment from four-star defensive tackle Haskell Garrett in February. Garrett attends Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, the same school that sent offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, tight end Alize’ Jones and safety Nicco Fertitta to Notre Dame. Garrett is expected to visit Notre Dame later this month for junior day.

Two of Notre Dame’s targets that committed to Ohio State have since transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Cornerback Marcus Williamson played his junior season at Westerville (Ohio) South, not far from Ohio State. Safety Isaiah Pryor transferred out of Lawrenceville (Ga.) Archer. The Irish signed two players from IMG in the 2016 class: safety Spencer Perry, who enrolled in January, and running back Tony Jones Jr.

Six of Ohio State’s commits have already made Notre Dame visits: Offensive linemen Josh Myers and Jake Moretti, linebacker Antjuan Simmons, athlete Brendon White, Cage and Pryor.

But Ohio State’s hot streak hasn’t even been dependent on visits. Its latest commitment came Sunday from running back JK Dobbins, a four-star recruit from La Grange, Texas, who has never set foot on campus.

Notre Dame has put forth a solid start of its own in the 2017 recruiting class with three four-star commits and one three-star commit. Both offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons and tight end Cole Kmet pledged Irish over Ohio State offers.

But Notre Dame has a lot of work to do if it wants to pass up Ohio State in the recruiting rankings. Notre Dame’s upcoming junior day on March 19 should help the Irish regain momentum.

Notre Dame is ranked No. 15 in the country in the 247Sports Composite team rankings in the 2017 class. Ohio State is ranked first followed by Miami, Clemson, Florida State and Oklahoma.

The gap between Ohio State at No. 1 and Miami at No. 2 (76.94 points) is greater than the gap between Miami, with its 11 commits, and No. 12 UCLA, with six commits.


The result of the Fiesta Bowl has been mirrored on the recruiting trail for Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes have landed nine verbal commitments in the 2017 class from recruits with Irish offers.

DT Jerron Cage, Cincinnati Winton Woods

RB JK Dobbins, La Grange (Texas) High

DT Haskell Garrett, Las Vegas Bishop Gorman

OL Jake Moretti, Arvada (Colo.) Pomona

OL Josh Myers, Miamisburg (Ohio) High

S Isaiah Pryor, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

LB Antjuan Simmons, Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer

ATH Brendon White, Powell (Ohio) Olentangy Liberty

CB Marcus Williamson, Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy

Junior defensive tackle recruit Jerron Cage, an Ohio State commit and the younger brother of Irish defensive tackle Daniel Cage, walks off the field after Notre Dame's 41-31 win over USC on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (SBT Photo/JARED HAMSHER)