ORLANDO — As he walked off the plane, Marvin Wilson didn’t know what to expect.

He didn’t expect his mind to be changed by the end of the weekend. Considered by many as a strong LSU lean, the five-star defensive tackle was taking his first visit to a school north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The Bellaire, Tex. recruit knew that a late-November game in Columbus would be different than any other official visit he had taken.

Was it ever.

“Man, it caught me off guard,” Wilson said. “When I went out there, I was scared for the cold. I got off the plane and it was cold, but it wasn’t that bad. It was doable.”

But more important than the weather, Wilson witnessed arguably the best game in the history of college football’s best rivalry. The No. 3 overall recruit watched Buckeye fans rush the field after Ohio State rallied for a double-overtime win against Michigan.

Needless to say, Wilson’s expectations were exceeded.

“When I got up there, I absolutely loved it,” Wilson said. “It was probably my best visit. It was by far the best college game that I’ve been to since I’ve been recruited. I encourage everybody to go to that game.”


Obviously not everyone has that luxury. The top-rated 2017 defensive lineman has his pick of anywhere. Ohio State, along with Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma and South Florida, are Wilson’s final choices.

Wilson will take an official visit to LSU and USF before announcing his decision on National Signing Day. Five weeks ago, it didn’t even look like OSU would have a seat at the table. Now, the Buckeyes could be a sleeper to land the 6-4, 329-pound defensive tackle.

But can a game like that really make the difference in a college choice?

“Yes and no,” Wilson said. “Every school has their big game. LSU and Alabama. Everybody has their “it” game. I just went to (Ohio State’s) “it” game. That’s what really made a big move for them.”

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Ohio State wouldn’t mind making one more big move in the final month before signing day. As the current 247sports class rankings stand, the Buckeyes are at No. 2 behind only Alabama.

Surely the addition of Wilson to an already-historic OSU recruiting class would put the Buckeyes over the top. Wilson heard about that once or twice from other OSU commits on his trip to Columbus.

“They told me ‘Just look at their recruiting class. Look at how you can put us over the top of Alabama,’” Wilson said.


Inevitably, Wilson will get pitched that message from OSU’s two top-shelf Texas recruits, five-star linebacker Baron Browning and No. 1 all-purpose back J.K. Dobbins. As long as he’s in Orlando for the Under Armour All-America Game, Wilson will likely get that message from OSU commits Trevon Grimes and Isaiah Pryor.

A year ago, five-star defensive lineman Nick Bosa was also an Under Armour All-American. After one year at Ohio State, he’s already a true freshman All-American and a key member of the Buckeye defense.

Wilson saw the impact Bosa made in his first season in Columbus. He wouldn’t mind repeating it.

“Off that bat, I just see myself coming in,” he said. “If (Bosa) can do it, I think I can do it, too.”

In the meantime, Bosa and the Buckeyes will compete for a chance to play for their second national title in three years. Recruits like Wilson will be watching OSU square off with Clemson on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes have an advantage on the rest of Wilson’s final five. Not only were they his last official visit for a game weekend, they’re also the only finalist that can cap their season with a national title.

Would winning it all make a difference for Wilson?

“It can get them some points. Not gonna lie to you,” Wilson said. “But at the same time, I’m just looking to see how they battle.”

The battle for Wilson got real on Nov. 26. It doesn’t look like it’ll stop until Feb. 1.