Keandre Jones, the No. 9 linebacker in the country, and Dwayne Haskins, the No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2016, flipped their previous commitments from in-state Maryland to Ohio State on Monday afternoon.
Add in the commitment of four-star wide receiver Binjimin Victor, the No. 12 wide receiver in the class, and it was a huge day for Urban Meyer.
You can say that again, coach.
Barton Simmons, 247Sports’ Director of Scouting, said smoke has been billowing around Haskins for a few weeks now. Jones’ thoughts on flipping, however, are much more recent.
The 6-3, 200 pound Good Counsel (Olney, Md.) linebacker took an unexpected official visit to Columbus over the weekend. Five-star athlete Mecole Hardman, four-star athlete Jordan Fuller, four-star cornerback Damar Hamlin and others were also reportedly on campus.
ANALYSIS: What big day means for Ohio State
Jones committed to Maryland on Dec. 1, 2014, telling USA TODAY High School Sports that his mother was the main motivating force for him to stay in-state.
“Honestly, the support of my mom and staying close to her. She’s my biggest motivation and I want her to see me play and not have to worry about that,” Jones said of his early commitment. “I did it for her, and it was kind of easy. I’d miss home so much.”
Jones had said he was “locked in to Maryland, but we’ll see where it takes me after the coaching situation is worked out,” referencing October’s firing of Maryland’s coach Randy Edsall. He was considering Clemson, USC and Ohio State “in case things don’t go to plan.”
As for Haskins, Ohio State has been in play for years. The 6-3, 200 pound Bullis School (Potomac, Md.) signal caller was considering the Buckeyes, but verbally committed to the Terapins in May, long before the firing of Edsall and even longer before Maryland started offering other quarterbacks.
“There are guys I’ve built relationships with,” Haskins told USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg at the Elite 11 Camp last summer. “I feel as though if we play together we can do something special, especially guys in the area that I’m really close with. If we all went to the same school together we can have the same impact, like people did at Miami (Fla.) in the 1980s.”
Haskins had been a driving force in Maryland’s “DMV Movement” with its appeal to players in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Losing two in-state players is a big blow to new coach DJ Durkin.
“It has been a dream of mine to play for The Ohio State University. This prestigious university best represents my family values and playing under Coach Meyer, Coach Beck and the rest of the coaching staff best exampled strong leadership abilities and people that I can have a relationship with after football was important.
“At the age of eight years old, I went to numerous Ohio State camps, loved watching their games and idolized the university. Finally, my dream to attend Ohio State will come true. It’s a blessing to say that I will be an Ohio State Buckeye. I hope that my story inspires all that took the time to read it. “
Unfortunately for the Maryland faithful, Jones and Haskins will be making their impact in Columbus.
“(Haskins) isn’t a running quarterback, and he didn’t want to be Braxton Miller or JT Barrett, running the ball 20-30 times a game. That’s why he didn’t commit at first,” Bill Greene of Scout.com said. “There’s a shift offensively from the zone-read to a vertical passing game at Ohio State, and Haskins represents that shift.”
Greene said the addition of Victor, who committed to Ohio State early Monday afternoon, also shows that shift. The 6-4 wide receiver can stretch the field north and south, much like Ohio State’s 2016 early enrollee Austin Mack.
“Victor’s one of the most unique guys in the class,” said Simmons. “He’s got a big catch radius, and he’s skinny, but he’s quick at 6-4 and able to create separation.”
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