Things are down to the nitty-gritty for Ohio State on the day before National Signing Day, and the Buckeyes are focused on two targets that are both facing decisions.
WHY Michigan State: What we know is that Jones has been committed to Ohio State for months, but took the visit to Michigan State this past weekend against the wishes of both the Buckeye staff and his own mother. That shows real, live interest in the Spartans, and not a trip to spark attention to his recruitment. That the visit was going to be a secret, and not communicated to the Ohio State staff is also a concern. He has several friends playing at Michigan State, both in football and basketball, so he is comfortable with the school. But does he have the relationship with the Spartan coaching staff? He did ask the Spartan staff to send him an LOI, so he will have the opportunity to sign with Michigan State.
WHY OHIO STATE: Jones committed to Ohio State a while ago, and does have friends among the commits, notably Kyle Berger. That provides comfort with the program. He picked the Buckeyes for a reason, and those reasons are still true except for one factor. The departure of Mike Vrabel to the NFL, even though that was not his position coach. If Vrabel was his main contact, and not position coach Ed Warriner, Ohio State could be in trouble from the relationship standpoint. It's always better to have the player committed, and not be the school looking to flip the player, so Ohio State has an edge there. There is also mom, who is squarely on the Buckeye side of the ledger.
THE DECISION: Should be announced Wednesday, sometime after noon Eastern. Jones will more than likely put it on his Twitter page when he's ready to announce.
THE PREDICTION: Hate to play it in the middle, but this one is a REALLY tough call. I'm going to call it for Ohio State, but by a late field goal, not in a blowout. But all that matters is getting the fax ma'am, just the fax.
WHY ANYONE ELSE: McDowell probably wants to go to Michigan State, but his parents are fighting that decision to the death. And fighting it publicly. Don't see the Spartans getting McDowell. Parents want Michigan, but the player is not having any of that. Something poisoned the Wolverines to McDowell, and he does not want to go to Ann Arbor.
What about Florida State? For protective parents, the likelihood of them approving a school 1,200 miles away is not likely. Malik is close to a grandparent in Michigan, so this would provide more separation from family? I also don't buy the argument that everyone picks up and moves to Tallahassee to be one happy family. The player and family liked Florida State, but distance could kill that one.
WHY OHIO STATE: Life is about compromise, and college football is all about comfort and relationships. Urban Meyer and assistant coach Larry Johnson could make Floridians feel comfortable moving to Siberia, and they would build that relationship to make you think it was the place to be. Simply put, they have won these battles for years and years, and I do not see that ending with the McDowell family.
They can get everything from Ohio State that can be found at Florida State, plus you get to stay close as a family. It just makes sense in so many ways, and it would seem Ohio State could be the one standing after all the objections are discussed, and the family makes the plus/minus chart.
THE DECISION: McDowell will announce on Signing Day at 9:30 a.m. at his school.
THE PREDICTION: Have been on the McDowell-to-Ohio State bandwagon for over a week, and there's no reason to get off. I do think the Buckeyes will be signing Malik McDowell this Wednesday, and he will play college football at Ohio State.