Signs of Signing Day: The Early Enrollees

Baron Browning

6’4″, 230 / Linebacker / Kennedale, Texas

Baron Browning is an athletic linebacker, who is also an award-winning power lifter and track athlete. He enrolled early at Ohio State despite the fact that he first lost his position coach (Luke Fickell) and then his first recruiting contact at OSU (Tim Beck) all before arriving on campus. After all that, maybe it was natural that Browning might want to have fun at the expense of Urban Meyer. He told Bucknuts.com that he jokingly told OSU’s head coach that he was committing to Alabama, before eventually informing him that he wanted to come to Columbus.

What Meyer gets in Browning? He gets a 6’4”, 230-pound player who posted 189 tackles, four sacks, and forced eight fumbles over the course of his high school career. He had 81 tackles, 10 of those for loss, and three sacks to go along with 10 pass breakups in his senior campaign. And he’s so versatile, he would sometimes play corner against top receivers, even while being named a finalist for the high school Butkus Award, which goes to the country’s best linebacker.

J.K. Dobbins

5’10”, 199 / Running Back / La Grange, Texas

Running back JK Dobbins beat out 165 others at the invite-only football camp known as The Opening to win the Nike+ Football Rating Dobbins Quotecompetition as the event’s most athletic player. His combined score on the 40-yard dash, agility cone drill, standing broad jump, and seated medicine ball throw gave many observers hope that he would have an incredible senior season at La Grange high school in Texas, however, he ran a mere 12 yards. That’s because he severely injured his ankle on the first play of the season, in a game that lasted less than a quarter before being canceled due to the weather.

Ohio State fans can still be very excited about what they get in the 5’9”, 199-pound early enrollee. Before his injury, he accumulated 5,149 rushing yards during his first three seasons, including 2,740 his junior year to go along with 35 touchdowns. And no less than Urban Meyer told Dobbins that he was a better than Ezekiel Elliott at the same age.

Tate Martell

5’10”, 203 / Quarterback / Las Vegas, Nevada

Tate Martell was named the best player in the country by Gatorade and MaxPreps; and the top offensive player by USA Today. The 5’11, 203 pound signal caller was named all-state all three years he started. It’s easy to understand why. During his high school career, he threw for 7,507 yards, and had only 9 picks to go along with his 113 passing touchdowns. That was capped with 2,363 yards and 41 passing scores coming in his senior campaign. He has impressive career rushing numbers as well, with 2,294 yards with 35 rushing touchdowns. When your team is that strong at quarterback, you’re going to be successful, but Martell’s Bishop Gorman squad was almost unbelievably so. He was an undefeated 43-0 as a starter. Bishop Gorman won their 8th straight state title, and USA Today declared them the nation’s best team for three-straight seasons.

Naturally, Martell was recruited early, and he verbally committed to Washington at age 14. However, on June 12, 2016, he announced he would be heading to Ohio State, where his grandfather had gone, and he spearheaded an effort to recruit other top prospects to Columbus.

Josh Myers

6’6″, 306 / Offensive Lineman / Miamisburg, Ohio

We can’t top this lede from “Land of 10” when it comes to describing offensive lineman Josh Myers:

There’s nothing Ohio State signee Josh Myers enjoys more than pancaking opposing defensive linemen.

Well, except for watching romantic movies.

That’s right. Love movie Wednesdays. It’s a thing. And now he can bring it to Ohio State, because not only did Meyers commit early (on January 25, 2015), he also enrolled early.  Myers is 6’6”, 310 pounds. He’s the top-rated recruit in the state of Ohio, fresh off leading his high school team to their first playoff victory in history, the first offensive lineman ever picked as the JJ Huddle player of the year, and he can flip a 1,000-pound tire. That’s video you’ll love seeing, even if it doesn’t make one of Myers’ Wednesday screenings.

“This past season Miamisburg rushed for the most yards and scored the most points in school history,” Myer’s coach, Steve Channell told The Fan, “all in large part by the offense going through Josh Myers.” Channel also described Myers involvement in the community. He was the IMPACT Leader for his church study group and was part of Blessing in a Bag, a weekly food drive for needy kids in Miamisburg. He mentored at-risk middle school students and served as a tutor at Miamisburg High School, among other activities.

Jeffrey Okudah

6’1″, 190 / Cornerback / Grand Prairie, Texas

Ohio State football cleaned up recruiting the state of Texas this year, and exhibit A for that might be Jeffrey Okudah. Although his sole high school interception came as a freshman (and that was an accident, his coach told us laughingly), he’s a highly regarded corner. Although that’s the position he’ll play at the next level, he’s just as well thought of as a safety, with ESPN and RiOkudah Quotevals ranking him as the number one at that spot. Speaking of which, OSU also cleaned up when recruiting the defensive back position, as Ohio State landed Okudah, Kendall Sheffield, and Shaun Wade.

Okudah is an early enrollee, who started playing football in third grade and announced his commitment at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, choosing the Buckeyes over Oklahoma and Florida State. He had 81 tackles and 13 pass breakups combined over the course of his junior and senior seasons. On special teams, he had a 103-yard kick return this past year; while away from the football field, he penned a widely read letter to his mother—who is battling lymphoma—and had it published online, made it a point to read to elementary school kids, joined FCA, and ran track.

Isaiah Pryor

6’2″, 195 / Safety / Bradenton, Florida

IMG Academy has such a good football program that as of late January, they had 7 players ranked in ESPN recruiting’s top 60. They had 10 players represented at the Under Armour All-American game. Both those honors apply to safety Isaiah Pryor, who transferred to IMG for his senior season after spending his previous three years in Georgia. During his senior year, the safety had 54 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. He excelled in the classroom as well with a 3.8 GPA, as a result ending up a finalist for the Watkins Award, which recognizes academic achievement by African American athletes.

Pryor is a two-time Georgia state wrestling champion, and his dad, Richard, played defensive end at Iowa.

Shaun Wade

6’2″, 175 / Cornerback / Jacksonville, Florida

Ohio State landed both USA Today’s offensive player of the year, in quarterback Tate Martell, and their defensive player of the year, in defensive back Shaun Wade. Wade committed to Ohio State the day the Buckeyes beat Oregon to win the first ever College Football Playoff Championship. It’s natural that a championship team would appeal to Wade. He won four-straight titles as a high schooler. He, however, took other visits and talked to other coaches after telling Urban Meyer he wanted to come to Columbus, so OSU fans were holding their collective breath all as Wade had a stellar senior season.

During that final year, Wade recorded 63 tackles, 7 interceptions, and 3 defensive touchdowns. He won the Gatorade Player of the Year, in addition to the aforementioned USA Today honor. ESPN ended up naming him the top corner in the country. Oh, and yes. Wade ended up sticking with his commitment, even enrolling early.

Brendon White

6’2″, 200 / Athlete / Powell, Ohio

Brendon White has played all over. He’s been a quarterback, running back, and an all-state defensive back. He says his favorite position is wide receiver, and that’s what he hopes to play in college, although there has also been talk of him being a linebacker. Wherever he ends up on the field, however, his heart has only been one place: at Ohio State. That’s no surprise considering that Brendon is the son of former Buckeye captain William White (1987), who also played 11 years in the NFL. And he’s so passionate about playing for his dad’s school that he graduated in time to be part of the team’s bowl practices in December.

He certainly got the most out of his time in high school. He helped lead an Olentangy Liberty program that had won three playoff games in its entire history to three postseason victories in 2016 alone. (The Patriots eventually fell to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the state semifinals.) White had 1,062 all-purpose yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, and four receiving scores his senior year, despite playing through a sprained ankle late in the year.

Marcus Williamson

5’10”, 180 / Cornerback / Westerville, Ohio

Another product of IMG Academy’s 2016 squad that went 12-0, Marcus Williamson attended Westerville South for three years, before his transfer to the Florida powerhouse. The transfer paid off with Williamson recording 36 tackles, two fumble recoveries (one of which he returned 60 yards for a touchdown), and one interception (which he also ran back for a score) during his senior year. He was named an Under Armour All-American.

Williamson told Land of 10 in a must-read interview that he’s a fan of the TV series “90210” and that OSU assistant Kerry Coombs once chastised a then 12-year old Williamson for not finishing a drill at a football camp.

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