Springfield High School offensive lineman Tyler Long, left, is Toledo’s only local recruit for 2018. THE BLADE/JEREMY WADSWORTH
After compiling the top 2017 recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference according to multiple services, the University of Toledo football team has continued to gain steam on the recruiting trail.
While the Rockets have focused their efforts on the Midwest, they have a diverse 14-man 2018 class. With most of the positions represented, Toledo has received commitments from players from eight different states, including three from Florida.
“I think the name Toledo has always carried some weight and they have always done a good job of recruiting,” said Allen Trieu, a Midwest recruiting analyst for Scout.com. “They regularly finish towards the top of the MAC in our rankings. But I think you are starting to see more kids from outside of the traditional footprint they would recruit in either commit to Toledo or at least come up and visit Toledo and consider Toledo. They are recruiting well as always, but I think they are diversifying the areas they are getting kids from a little bit.”
According to 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, which take into account quantity as well as quality of each recruiting class, Toledo’s 2018 class currently ranks 59th in the country and is second in the MAC behind Western Michigan.
The average player score for Toledo is 80.42, while Western Michigan has 15 commits with an average score of 80.39.
The 14 commits have provided a foundation for 2018, but the Toledo staff still needs to round out the class.
“I think they are probably looking at another wide receiver and filling the slot receiver position,” Trieu said. “There is no running back currently in the class, so that is another position of need for them. I think there are never enough big guys up front, so it wouldn’t surprise me for them to add more guys on the offensive and defensive line.”
Standouts in the class include: Cross Wilkinson, a pro-style quarterback from West Virginia; Jalin Cooper, a talented wide receiver from New York; and linebackers Jackson Barrow and Dyontae Johnson.
Wilkinson could be the quarterback of the future for the Rockets.
“One position that I would have a lot of confidence in Jason Candle with is quarterback,” Trieu said.
“He has shown a good eye for that position. I think they’ve done a good job of identifying kids that don’t necessarily have big time offers and maybe have a ton of big rankings. But this kid, if you look at what he accomplished in his high school career, he has been very, very productive. He’s comfortable running their system and I think that is really important.”
Cooper is the highest-ranked Rockets recruit on 247Sports and had other Power 5 offers before committing to Toledo.
“He’s a very tall, rangy kid,” Trieu said of Cooper. “He’s going to be an outside receiver for them. I think he’s a kid whose best football is ahead of him. He still has some filling in to do. He can get stronger and faster. He definitely checks off all the boxes as far as having the type of frame and developmental tools you want in an outside receiver. They’ve developed that body type before.”
Johnson and Barrow offer a lot of potential on the defensive side of the ball.
“Dyontae Johnson, the kid from Detroit, stands out to me. He was a kid who had a Power 5 offer from Iowa State. He’s very athletic and long and has giant hands. I actually think he has some of the biggest hands in this class and can drop back into coverage and be really comfortable. Then Jackson Barrow from Indianapolis Cathedral, a really good football program, is going to come in ready to go. He’s played a high-level of competition and understands how to work hard and how to win.”
Springfield High School senior Tyler Long is the lone local recruit in Toledo’s class so far. Long is a standout offensive lineman for the Blue Devils.
“Tyler is a really good football player,” Trieu said. “He’s just a tough, hard-nosed type of kid. He went to some camps this summer and you thought maybe he would be the type of kid that would be better with pads and not necessarily a shorts and t-shirts guys. He did really well at those events and moved up quite a ways in our rankings after we had a chance to see him do that.”