A new feature in the East kicks off with the Midweek Meanderings, which explores and gives insight into the recruitment of some of the top players in the region.
Schools Calling On Jeremy
Jeremy Ruckert will challenge for the top tight end spot in the nation next month when Scout re-ranks after the camp season, but the question is whether anyone can challenge Ohio State to land the No. 45 prospect in the nation.
Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin are his other finalists, and the Lindenhurst (N.Y.) High standout is eyeing a summer decision. Everything seems to be pointing in Ohio State's direction, and as soon as the Buckeyes offered a year ago, they moved up the charts quickly.
In fact, Ohio State made Ruckert a primary target after coach Urban Meyer flew in, largely to watch him, perform at a satellite camp in New Jersey last June. Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was recently on Long Island to check on Ruckert.
Ohio State usually has a big commitment or two take place at Friday Night Lights in July, and it makes sense for Ruckert to announce his decision then if Ohio State is the choice, but it gives Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin time to continue to make up ground.
In March, Ruckert made trips to the midwest and what he saw at Notre Dame and Wisconsin made him give more thought to both of those schools. Notre Dame has a strong tight end history, and the staff combined that with the alumni power associated with a Notre Dame education to make a big impact.
Wisconsin remains a long shot, but Ruckert has familiarity with the Badgers through quarterback Jack Coan. Like Ruckert, Coan was a standout on Long Island. The two spoke about the transition from Long Island to Madison, Wisc., and it stayed with Ruckert.
Michigan was high on Ruckert's list for a while, and having coach Jim Harbaugh involved in the recruiting process is intriguing. Also, do not overlook the NFL ties Michigan's coaches possess.
OSU, 'Bama Jonesing For Elite OL
The relationship between Ohio State and Brooklyn Erasmus Hall blossomed when Curtis Samuel opted to play for Meyer, and it was strengthened with cornerback Jahsen Wint was added late in the 2016 class.
For more than a year it has been widely assumed Erasmus Hall's Matt Jones, the No. 12 offensive tackle in the 2018 class, would wind up with the Buckeyes and there is not much argument to go with it.
However, if you were to pick one school to give Ohio State a run, which would it be?
Jones knows Ohio State well, and the feeling toward the Buckeyes within Erasmus Hall is extremely strong. Players talk about Samuel and the connection with Ohio State, and it feels like everyone on the team glows about the Buckeyes.
But do not sleep on Alabama because Jones is giving the Crimson Tide a hard look.
A late summer commitment seems likely for Jones, but prior to making a decision, he plans to visit Alabama. The Crimson Tide continue to recruit him, and his size (6-foot-4, 285 pounds) and physical play suits what Alabama loves in its guards. He is strong enough to compete in college immediately.
Ohio State remains the favorite, and with the strong relationship between Erasmus Hall coach Danny Landberg and Meyer, it will be surprising to see him land elsewhere.
Which Way For Oweh?
Penn State was considered to be in a strong position when it offered defensive end Jayson Oweh at the end of April, but there was a big shift in his recruitment in the last week as Notre Dame and Ohio State offered.
Both are big offers, but Notre Dame is huge. In talking to a few people close to the Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Aademy standout, Notre Dame is one of the offers he was waiting on. The mix of academics, job placement after graduation and playing for a storied program are the key factors.
Also, keep in mind Oweh, like his family. is big into academics.
When he left Rutgers Prep after his sophomore season so he could transition from a basketball prospect to a football prospect, he said he looked at Hightstown (N.J.) Peddie, Lawrenceville (N.J.) School and Blair Academy. Each are boarding schools. According to their websites, tuition ranges to board at the schools from $56,000-$62,000 annually before any aid packages. Being a day student ranges from $39,000-$51,000.
There is a lot more that will go into a college decision than the football program, and a big alumni network is key.
That is why getting Oweh on campus Saturday is important for Penn State. There already is a strong feeling for Penn State in northwest New Jersey, where Blair is located, and the power of Penn State's alumni network is a strength for the school.
Oweh saw his interest spike after being offered by Wisconsin as a tight end, and then running the 40-yard dash in 4.63 seconds at The Opening Regional in New Jersey opened more eyes. He measured in at 6-5, 236 pounds, which jumped out to coaches.
Young Not Ready
So many things point to Scout 100 safety Isheem Young winding up at Penn State, including his relationship with a number of current Nittany Lions and the coaching staff. More telling, though, is what Young did in the spring.
Making visits is not easy for the Philadelphia Imhotep standout, but he found his way to Penn State three times. There is also a thought he could play early.
Whether Ohio State continues to push hard for him will be interesting, the feeling right now is both sides are looking elsewhere.
Young measured in at The Opening Regional in New Jersey at 5-foot-9 1/2, 200 pounds. Some programs are so number driven they will not recruit a player if said player does not fall within their measurables range, and Young could see that happen. However, in his case, it should not be a big deal. Young can flat-out play.
At one point, Florida State was the school to beat, but Young is not talking much about the Seminoles these days.
West Virginia is interesting because of his relationship with the coaching staff and his fondness of the defensive style, but the lure of playing at Penn State is big and several people close to him believe he is leaning that way. However, even if he did commit by the end of the summer, he is planning on making multiple official visits so his recruitment will not be over.