The world of college football recruiting is slaphappy about predictions, but in the case of 4-star offensive tackle Jamarco Jones from Chicago, Ill., his recruiting race looks to be too close to comfortably call.
Jones has long been thought of as an Ohio State lean—take a look at the unanimous Ohio State predictions in his 247Sports Crystal Ball—but as everyone who follows recruiting should know, you just never really know what's going on in the mind of these recruits.
Jared Shanker of ESPN—who reports Jones' decision will take place at 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 27th—got some inside information on what Jones thinks about OSU heading into his decision though:
Considered an Ohio State lean for quite some time and projected to pick the Buckeyes on the Hot Board, Jones has built a strong relationship with Urban Meyer and assistant Mike Vrabel. Although Vrabel is the defensive line coach, he recruits the Chicago area, and Jones has been the Buckeyes’ top Chicago target for quite some time.
Meyer’s success at Florida and his first year at Ohio State also stands out to Jones.
“Coach Meyer is a great coach and has a great track record,” Jones said. “He’s won multiple national championships at Florida. [Ohio State] had an undefeated season last year, and I know [offensive line] coach Ed Warinner quite well, and he's a good coach and I know what he can do for linemen.”
Shanker also reports that Michigan State would seem like the close second for Jones. The Spartans reportedly made a push for Jones, and the 4-star offensive tackle knows many of the Spartans' commitments from Chicago. Three of Michigan State's 12 commitments are from Illinois.
Here's what Jones had to say about MSU, via Shanker:
“Coach Dantonio and Coach Staten are great coaches, and I got to spend a lot of time with them throughout my visits and I got a great feel for them and I know they’re great coaches and can maximize my potential,” Jones said. “Also, I’ll be challenged in the classroom at Michigan State as well, and I know most of the commits.”
Although Michigan has been dominating recruiting in 2014, Shanker refers to them as somewhat of an outlier for Jones (don't count them out though), so ultimately, this decision should come down to Ohio State and Michigan State.
If that's the case, Ohio State would have the edge both from a prestige and potential standpoint, especially since Urban Meyer's program is really one of few that should compete for a national championship this year and in upcoming seasons. If Jones wants to win the big game, he would have the best chance at Ohio State.
That's not to say that Michigan State isn't a great program that will win games, but at this point, it's quite obvious that MSU is not on OSU's level just yet. The Spartans may be able to compete for the Big Ten, but a national championship? Probably not.
MSU may benefit from Jones' connections to recruits, and he could be the Spartans' marquee recruit, but most big-time recruits want to win, and they want to win big.
Look for Jones to pick the school that will give him the best chance to do so.
Considering all the signs that were pointing to Ohio State leading up to this decision, plus the championship draw of OSU and coach Meyer, Ohio State should have the edge.