OSU Football Camp 'Friday Night Lights' Open to Public
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you're itching to spend some time in Ohio Stadium but can't wait until the September 1 opener against Miami (OH), then this Friday night might be right up your alley.
While the head coach at Florida, Urban Meyer implemented a one-day high school camp called "Friday Night Lights", which brought dozens of the top prospects in the nation to the Gainesville campus. Several universities have adopted this idea, including Ohio State, as Meyer has now brought his "FNL" to Columbus, and it gets under way this Friday evening.
The camp has been a recruiting boon for Meyer while at Florida, as players got to experience the stadium at night, and with prospects who had already committed to Meyer in attendance, peer pressure to commit is at an all-time high.
One of the unique aspects of FNL is that it is free and open to the public. This gives fans a chance to be used as a recruiting tool by Ohio State, which they likely won't mind.
Buckeye fans have numbered tens of thousands for open practices in the past, and over 95,000 for a Spring Game, so it will be interesting to see what the number is for a football camp featuring some of the top 2013 and 2014 prospects in the nation.
The attendance numbers won't approach the tens of thousands this year simply because Ohio State doesn't publicize the event, but you can bet that the Buckeye coaches are hoping for as many fans as possible to show up and do their part to impress the recruits.
While the camp is open to all 10-12th graders, the focus will be on the four dozen or so prospects that have Ohio State offers or are working for those offers.
If those players on the cusp of an offer perform well, at a time when they need to most, then that will be the type of performance that carries more weight with Urban Meyer than other camp performances.
If you are still on the fence about attending, just remember that the Ohio State coaches want you there, and from what Meyer has shown in his limited time in Columbus, if fans are in attendance, he will do what he can to make it interesting and entertaining for them. Remember the indoor practice? Or Braxton Miller versus Kenny Guiton in the circle?
History says you'll want to be there, even if you'll have no way of knowing who is who.
Schedule of Events
5:30-6:30 pm - Registration
6:30-7:00 pm - Welcome by OSU coaching staff
7:00-8:00 pm - Strength and Conditioning/Speed Training
8:10-9:10 pm - Individual Drill Instruction
9:15-10:00 pm - 1 on 1, Pass Rush, Skill vs Skill workouts
10:05 pm - Dinner
Caleb Henderson (6-3 220), QB Burke, VA — Henderson is the #2 pro-style quarterback in the 2014 class according to 247 Sports, and he grew up a Buckeye fan. He threw for 2,700 yards and 31 touchdowns last year while also rushing for 500 yards and five touchdowns. There is the belief that if the Buckeyes extend an offer, Henderson would have a hard time saying no. Ohio State also reportedly leads for 247's #3 pro-style QB William Crest out of Baltimore, Maryland. Crest, however, already has an offer from the Buckeyes according to the recruiting services.
Deshone Kizer (6-5 207), QB Toledo, OH — Kizer attends Toledo Central Catholic, which is the same high school that produced Dane Sanzenbacher. Kizer is rated the #3 dual threat quarterback in the 2014 class per 247 Sports. Nebraska and Illinois are the only Big Ten teams to offer at this point, but Michigan is also in contact. Kizer likely needs a good performance to move up on Ohio State's board.
Deshaun Watson (6-1 183), QB Gainesville, GA — Watson is reportedly only one of two 2014 quarterbacks offered by Ohio State to this point, but he is already committed to Clemson. However, how committed can he be if he is attending another school's FNL?
Derrick Green (6-0 215), RB Richmond, VA — Green is Rivals' top running back in the 2013 class. He had been an Ohio State lean for a long time, but the Buckeyes have certainly had to work harder of late to stay in the picture. Having him on back on campus yet again will certainly not hurt.
Tyquan Lewis (6-3 225), OLB Tarboro, NC — Lewis is still mulling over his Ohio State offer and is apparently torn between the Buckeyes and his home-state Tar Heels. However, there are current Buckeye commits who feel it's just a matter of time before Lewis joins them in the 2013 class.
Shelton Gibson (6-1 175), WR Cleveland, OH — Gibson is the top 2013 receiver in the state and was Urban Meyer's first in-state offer as Ohio State head coach. This has been a battle between the Buckeyes and Auburn for a while now, but most assume that if he's able to commit to Ohio State, he eventually will.
Devon Allen (6-1 190), WR Phoenix, AZ — Allen might be the fastest receiver left on Ohio State's 2013 board, and he plans on running track in college as well. His father played baseball at Ohio State, so the Buckeyes are certainly in the running here. He also has offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Stanford, and will be visiting Michigan this weekend.
Clifton Garrett (6-2 215), LB Plainfield, IL — Garrett is rated the #2 outside linebacker in the 2014 class by 247 Sports. It was thought that Ohio State led for his services, but a trip last week to East Lansing may have put some doubt in Garrett's mind. FNL will go a little way towards swaying him, but there is still a long way to go here.
Raekwon McMillan (6-3 236), LB Hinesville, GA — McMillan is 247's #2 inside linebacker in the 2014 class, and despite his southern roots, the Buckeyes are certainly in play here. It doesn't appear that McMillan will be competing at camp because he already has an offer. Instead he's just going to be hanging out, which says a lot for how he feels about the Buckeyes if he's making a trip just to make it.
Donovan Munger (6-4 290), DT Shaker Heights, OH — Munger, a 2013 recruit, has had an Ohio State offer for a while now, and it's getting pretty close to crunch time for him. If the Buckeyes get a commit or two this weekend, he may want to hurry up and commit while there is still room for him.
This is far from an exhaustive list, and it should also be noted that the list is tentative as anything can happen between now and the camp. But this at least gives you an idea of the level of prospects that will be in attendance.
Will you be there?
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