Dylan Raiola’s Decommitment Continues Pattern of Annual Twists and Turns in Ohio State Quarterback Recruiting
Over the past month, Ohio State has lost signings from two quarterbacks while landing a signing from another.
The recent de-signing certainly hurts the most, as it came from Dylan Raiola, the No. 1 pick in the 2024 draft league. Raiola was supposed to be Ohio State’s future quarterback, and replacing him with another quarterback of similar caliber in his class won’t be an easy task .
Ohio State had hoped to spend the next year building a class around Raiola, knowing they had secured the best quarterback in the cycle, but the Buckeyes will have to start their quarterback search all over again instead.
However, such drama is nothing new for Ohio State when it comes to quarterback recruiting. Most quarterbacks who signed up for Ohio State as early as Raiola in recent years didn’t end up with the Buckeyes, and late twists and turns at the position before signing day — and sometimes even after signing day — have become a nearly annual occurrence for the state of Ohio.
With Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, and CJ Stroud all becoming (or soon to be, in Stroud’s case) Heisman Trophy contenders and NFL first-round draft picks, Ohio State has had as much success at the quarterback position as any school over the past five years. But neither of them were Ohio State’s original targets during the years they signed with the Buckeyes, and while their success has helped Ohio State recruit highly acclaimed quarterbacks in recent seasons, the Buckeyes still often found themselves late accumulate in the recruiting cycles to sign any quarterback (or quarterbacks) they want.
Fresh from a late quarterback rotation in the 2023 class and Raiola sending the Buckeyes back to the drawing board a year before anyone signs in the 2024 class, here’s a refresher on the roller coaster ride that quarterback recruitment has been for Ohio State on an annual basis for the last ten years beginning with the class of 2015.
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. This was Joe Burrow, who signed to the Buckeyes shortly after receiving his offer from Ohio State in May 2014 and had a drama-free enlistment from there, eventually signing with the Buckeyes in February (back when there was no early contract term) .
However, Ohio State continued to pursue Gibson even after Burrow’s signing, leaving the quarterback’s recruiting drama to the day of the signing. Even after his November commitment, Gibson continued to attend other schools in the weeks leading up to signing day, but eventually presented the Buckeyes with his national letter of intent — though his ever-changing recruiting may have been a portent of the future, given his time at Ohio State lasted less than a year.
The Buckeyes first landed their quarterback for the class of 2016 last April when Tristen Wallace signed for Ohio State, but found themselves back in the market for a quarterback less than two months before National Signing Day when Wallace moved to Oregon again.
That forced Ohio State to chase a late-in-class recruit at the quarterback position, but things ultimately worked out for the Buckeyes when they turned Maryland’s Dwayne Haskins in January. While Wallace never played a snap in Oregon, Haskins broke Ohio State records for passing yards and touchdowns in his only season as the Buckeyes’ starter in 2018.
While Dwayne Haskins went on to become one of Ohio State’s all-time best passers, he wasn’t the Buckeyes’ first pick in the recruiting class of 2016.
Ohio State landed an incredibly early quarterback engagement in the Class of 2017 when Danny Clark signed the Buckeyes in 2013 while still a high school freshman. Clark remained committed to Ohio State for nearly three years, but he and the Buckeyes eventually split in September 2016, three months after Tate Martell’s signing — Ohio State accepted a commitment despite already having a pledge from Clark.
Martell’s signing with the Buckeyes continued from there, but Clark – who famously got an Ohio State tattoo after signing – will still be remembered as a warning sign of how much things change after an early signing.
As with Raiola in the 2024 cycle, Ohio State thought it had secured its quarterback for the 2018 class early in the process when Emory Jones became the first player to sign for the Buckeyes that cycle in July 2016. Jones continued to evaluate his options over the next year and a half, however, they ultimately forced the Buckeyes to look for another quarterback.
That quarterback ended up being Matthew Baldwin, who initially signed for Colorado State but switched to Ohio State just two weeks before signing after receiving an offer from the Buckeyes in November. Baldwin would end up being the only Ohio State quarterback signee in the class when Jones flew to Florida on signing day.
Ohio State was without a quarterback in the recruiting class from 2019 until just six months before signing day when D’Wan signed Mathis to the Buckeyes in June 2018. They ended up without a high school quarterback when Mathis transferred to Georgia on signing day, leaving them with no viable options to continue down the high school ranks.
Luckily for the Buckeyes, they had the better end of the trade with Georgia when Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State in January, giving them an immediate replacement from Haskins and one of Ohio State’s best quarterbacks for the next two seasons. The Buckeyes had already started chasing Fields before Mathis’ flip, so they probably 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 poised as a quarterback for the 2020 draft class when Jack Miller joined the Buckeyes in July 2018. However, when Martell and Baldwin both migrated from Ohio State in 2019, the Buckeyes needed a second quarterback in 2020 for added depth.
They wouldn’t land that second quarterback until the early signing stage in December, but it was worth the wait as the Buckeyes landed their quarterback of the future with Stroud’s signing on the day of the signing, culminating in Ohio State’s late-cycle pursuit of Stroud began when he impressed future teammates Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Julian Fleming and Gee Scott Jr. during The Opening in June 2019, where he received Elite 11 MVP honors.
The closest thing Ohio State has come to a drama-free quarterback recruiting cycle has been since Ryan Day arrived in Columbus. Kyle McCord committed to the Buckeyes almost 20 months before signing day (April 30, 2019) and never wavered in that commitment, allowing Ohio State to build a strong recruiting class around him.
However, Ohio State ended with an unexpected addition to its 2021 recruiting class when Quinn Ewers — who had been signed for the Buckeyes’ 2022 recruiting class — reclassified and joined the team in August. While this didn’t impact McCord, who remained with the Buckeyes and is now in a position to potentially succeed Stroud as Ohio State’s starting quarterback next season, it did force the Buckeyes to scramble to add another quarterback in 2022 oblige.
Kyle McCord has been one of Ohio State’s few drama-free quarterback recruits in recent years.
Much like the situation Ohio State finds itself in after Raiola’s firing, the Buckeyes didn’t have clear options to replace Ewers — who would move to Texas when his original recruiting class even signed — after the No. 1 candidate’s departure the 2022 class. Ohio State had stopped recruiting other quarterbacks in the 2022 class after Ewers signed to the Buckeyes in November 2020, and gave them much ground when Ewers reclassified in August.
A domino ultimately fell in Ohio State’s favour, however, when Devin Brown — who was tied to USC at the time of Ewers’ reclassification — chose to resume his recruiting after Clay Helton was fired. The Buckeyes took the opportunity to go after Brown, eventually signing the sixth-ranked quarterback in the 2022 class, who will compete with McCord for next year’s starting job.
Unexpected twists and turns barring it, Ohio State will sign Lincoln Kienholz as quarterback for the Class of 2023 on Wednesday. But it was up to a week before the early signing period before the Buckeyes secured him as their quarterback for the current cycle.
Since Ewers was originally signed for Ohio State’s Class of 2022, the Buckeyes never gained much traction with the best quarterbacks in the class like Arch Manning, Malachi Nelson, Nico Iamaleava and Dante Moore. They failed to gain ground with those quarterbacks even after Ewers was reclassified, eventually offering Brock Glenn in June, who got his signing 10 days later. But after Glenn’s de-signing in November, Ohio State faced the option of forgoing a quarterback in the 2023 class – which likely would have sent the Buckeyes onto the transfer market for quarterback depth – until Kienholz was kicked away by Washington last week .