Monday Skull Session

By Jason Priestas on January 28, 2013 at 6:00a

With nine days until National Signing Day, staffs around the country are running out of time to sell the virtues of their schools to 17 and 18-year-olds that have pretty much heard it all by this point.

Ohio State's staff concluded a big weekend of its own with two in hand and two in the bush, so to speak.

The two in hand, linebacker Trey Johnson of Lawrenceville (GA) Central Gwinnett and running back Ezekiel Elliott of St. Louis John Burroughs, took visits to schools not named "Ohio State" causing a bit of consternation among Buckeye recruitniks.

Johnson, a consensus top-five inside backer that publicly pledged for Ohio State three weeks ago at the Under Armour All-America Game, took somewhat of a stealth visit to Tennessee to visit with new coach Butch Jones. I use the term stealth because on Friday Johnson told us (he retweeted the linked tweet, FWIW) that he would not be taking an official visit to Tennessee, yet he made his way to Knoxville, anyway.

Johnson has a pretty strong relationship with Vols linebacker coach Tommy Thigpen, who had previously recruited him to Auburn, where he was committed before flipping to Ohio State after Gene Chizik was fired. Johnson's father downplayed the visit ($), telling ESPN that his son took the trip to to "hang out" and "talk football."

We're hearing the trip caught Ohio State's staff off guard, but they do have an in-home visit lined up with Johnson on Tuesday, so they'll get their chance to firm up the commitment.

Elliott, the best player in the state of Missouri, took a planned visit to Columbia to over the weekend to meet with Gary Pinkel and his staff:

Back in November, a source told that the door may not be totally closed for Mizzou. The source said Elliott, whose parents both went to Mizzou, would probably listen but was concerned with the backlash from the Ohio State fan base, if he did indeed look around.

Elliott made his official visit to Mizzou this past weekend and according to his father, it couldn't have went better. The highlight for Elliott was the "M-I-Z, E-Z-E" chant at the basketball game.

Mizzou is trying to sell Elliott on the Jeremy Maclin story. Maclin was originally committed to Oklahoma before flipping to Missouri and we all know how that turned out.

Elliott's father, Stacy, went on to tell that his son's "head is spinning and he slept the entire car ride home," for whatever that's worth. You'll recall that Mr. Elliott is the same guy that brought the epic Kerry Coombs recruiting pitch to the world.

It's recruiting, so anything can happen, but from everything we've heard to this point, we'd be surprised if Urban Meyer lost Johnson or Elliott. I'm just glad Ohio State's staff doesn't pout and pull offers like our frenemies from the North.

THE TWO IN THE BUSH (AND ONE FOR '14). One reason Elliott may have decided to visit Missouri was because of a late push from Ohio State to land DeSoto (TX) running back/slot receiver Dontre Wilson, Rivals' #5-rated all-purpose back in the 2014 class. Ohio State had backed off of recruiting Derrick Green, a lifelong Ohio State fan that is considered by some to be the top back in the class, with some assurances that Elliott would be the only back taken and the offer to Wilson may have rocked a boat or two.

Wilson had been an Oregon commit, but when Chip Kelly left to take the head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles, several schools, most prominently Ohio State, swooped in to pillage.

As Vico pointed out yesterday, fellow Texan and early enrollee J.T. Barrett showed Wilson around and things went really well. Wilson may visit Oklahoma State next weekend, but it's shaping up as a battle between Ohio State and Oregon for the burner's services.

Also visiting was wide receiver James Clark of New Smyrna Beach (FL), a four-star prospect with offers from Notre Dame, Florida, and Miami among others. Evidently, offensive coordinator Tom Herman made a solid imperssion:

Clark will take an unofficial visit to Gainesville next weekend to see what Will Muschamp is cooking before deciding between Ohio State and Florida on National Signing Day.

Finally, Ohio State offered Kyle Trout, a 6-6/280 lbs offensive tackle from nearby Lancaster over the weekend. It's Trout's biggest offer to date.

As we inch towards National Signing Day, things will, by nature, get nuttier. Stick with us to guide you through the insanity and be sure to tune in next Wednesday for Signing Day coverage you won't find anywhere else. Seriously. We'll have a live blog, interviews, a special edition of the Eleven Dubcast. And explosions. EXPLOSIONS.


BO PELINI IS GOING TO EXPLODE. Nebraska lost not one, but two previously committed recruits over the weekend.

The first to flip was Dominic Walker, a wideout from Orlando. He spurned the Cornhuskers for Auburn, prompting Pelini to get all awkward on the phone when Walker phoned the Nebraska staff to inform them. Two days later, Marcus McWilson, a four-star safety prospect from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, tweeted that he was back on the market with Kentucky emerging as his likely destination.

If Pelini was salty about losing Walker to Auburn, we can only imagine how purple he became when he found out McWilson had decommitted. Northeast Ohio, particularly the Youngstown area, has treated Pelini well thanks to his many connections growing up in the area and starring for Cardinal Mooney in the mid-80s. Kentucky's new coach Mark Stoops, himself a Cardinal Mooney alumnus, has set up shop in Youngstown and will battle Pelini on his turf for recruits that Urban Meyer doesn't want and possibly one or two that Meyer will want.

On a macro level, Kentucky – KENTUCKY! – is now able to sell recruits on playing in the SEC to win head-to-head battles with Nebraska. Raise your hand if you ever saw this day coming.

ETC. Live by the troll, die by the troll... Franco Harris still doing Franco Harris things... Denard Robinson Senior Bowl highlights will induce yawning... Two Three lonely states ♫♪ we were strangers on the map... Edge: Baltimore... Steve Spurrier is now paying journalists... These can't be new Wisconsin helmets, can they?



oregonianbuckeye's picture

Thanks for the updates, but yikes! NSD can't get here fast enough. 

popeurban's picture

I don't like Stoops stealing Ohio kids, and I am sure a strong Kentucky is not good for Ohio State or other B1G schools.

KENTUCKY! – is now able to sell recruits on playing in the SEC to win head-to-head battles with Nebraska. Raise your hand if you ever saw this day coming.

BuckeyeRick's picture

Kentucky has no option other than recruit out of state. They don't have the population base or the high school programs in the state to sustain themselves. The entire state only has three 4-star recruits this year, and no 5-stars. Plus, Kentucky has to fight Louisville for those. They cannot compete in the SEC like that, so I don't think there is anything to worry about.

NC_Buckeye's picture

When you look at the population map below, much of the SEC is not very populated.

I suspect that a lot of their S-E-C speed comes from prevasively and agressively recruiting on a national scale. Statistically, a smaller population base shouldn't inheritantly produce better (faster) athletes than a larger population base. Of course, Florida and now Texas might make up for some of that.
This also confirms for me that Delany and company are on the right track as far as expansion.

Jugdish's picture

It is really funny that Meat Chicken will be fighting with KY for Ohio kids. I am glad that most of the football players in Ohio love tOSU.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

buckeyestu's picture

it is my hope that any ohio kids that stoops gets, will be the ones that would otherwise go to the team up north or the golden domers. i am not worried about urban getting the ohio players he wants.

kevinfrenchfry's picture

thos wiscy helmets are hideous, its so jumbled up and disoriented looking

buckz4evr's picture

They look more like shoes than helmets

Doc's picture

That helmet is a visual dumpster fire.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Chief B1G Dump's picture

At least we are keeping it interesting - getting some nerve wracking happenings as NSD closes in.

Kurt's picture

That's rough for the B1G that an Ohio-native is down there working up a program like UK.  Good side of it is that after 1 or 2 above average year's there and he'll move on.
Also, not to nitpick but 3 states on that map, Te'o's native Hawai'i also voted for him.  

Jason Priestas's picture


Kurt's picture

Hahaha...the loneliest state.

bukyze's picture

What's surprising is that half the people (49%) in his own state (IN)wouldn't even want him.

Dougger's picture

Did not know trey Johnson visited. I fully expect the staff to seal those loose ends, especially since these guys are essentially in our camp anyway. Any news about Donovan munger? I hope NSD is crazy for everybody else - not tOSU, unless we pick up an extra guy.

I like football

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Munger said he's solid to Ohio State.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I'm not against Bo like everyone else is. It's not as if he called him a racial slur or anything close to that..

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Drayton and Herman to visit EZE today. 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

This needed to happen big time... I really think Urban should make the trip to solidify things too.  I don't really understand why Zeke is upset tho.  Wilson is being recruited for a totally different position.  If Zeke flips, I think Urban and the staff should try to flip Derrick Green.

btalbert25's picture

We don't even know if he really is.  The quote said a source close to USA Today said he was.  That could of just been some clown reading comments on 11w. 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Send coach Coombs.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Hovenaut's picture

Another good read, think when the smoke clears OSU comes out ok on NSD.

All was well until I had to check out the Wussconsin helmet.....good lord. The horror....the horror.

btalbert25's picture

I really don't know that Stoops is working Kentucky up that much guys.  He's landing a few recruits, but he's not pulling in a huge class of stud recruits.  He's landed a few guys that UK wasn't in on.  I'm not ready to crown them a contender in the SEC or anything like that.  He may get the program back to the success that Rich Brooks had, but who knows if he'll be around long enough to even see that through anyway. They'll have some improvement next year maybe, then win 7 games the next year and he'll take off for a better job.
I'm not jumping on that UK bandwagon.  Hal Mumme got great recruits and the best he ever did was a 7 win year.  Rich Brooks was able to recruit and had the 2 best back to back seasons in probably 40 years if not ever.  I'll wait til UK actually wins more than 1 or 2 conference games before I buy into the OMG Stoops is Awesome and UK is going to steal all the B1G recruits.

okiebuck's picture

Agree with your thoughts; what is really surprising right now in the SEC is the "Juice" that Ole Miss has going right now on the recruting trail. 

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

thatlillefty's picture

"Frenemies" ?... you're too kind, Jason.
So is Dontre Wilson class of '13 or '14? I thought it was the former.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Wilson is in the 13 class, meaning we will know where he is going very soon.

BuckeyeRick's picture

I lived in Lexington until this past year, so I know how Kentucky football works. Stoops will be a big asset to a program that would win only 1 or 2 SEC games a year, he might get them to 3 or 4 SEC wins each year, but that jury is still out. Teams like Nebraska will have to compete with him, but Ohio State shouldn't have anything to worry about when it comes to the top recruits. Kentucky has nothing to offer a top recruit. They have a much smaller stadium, more than half of their games are only on local TV, their facilities are smaller and inferior, they put all of their money into their basketball program, and they don't have a big football fan base. Most importantly, while we (Ohio State) play to determine which BCS game we're going to, including the National Championship, they play in hopes of just making a bowl game. The BBVA Compass bowl is a fantastic season ender for their fans.
I firmly believe the top recruits want to play and WIN in the spotlight, not be an SEC tackling dummy.

MattyBeingMatty's picture

Pelini was long gone from Mooney in the mid 90's... He played for Earle Bruce so I'm guessing you mean mid 80's? Just throwing that out there...

“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

Jason Priestas's picture

Good catch. Typo on my end. I know he arrived at OSU in '87.

acBuckeye's picture

For the love of God, will schools EFFing leave their helmet designs alone!

kalabuckzoo's picture

Seriously, if you're not mid-major just shaking things up or oregon stick with some tradition.  I'm sure to be in the minority here but I could do without OSU doing any pro combat uni's, especially during the game. 

btalbert25's picture

I used to agree, but the uniforms have changed several times over the years, so what exactly is tradition?

kalabuckzoo's picture

Yes, but updating uni's with stripe changes etc. is a far cry from what others like maryland has done.

acBuckeye's picture

I agree. OSU's regular unis look so damn good already, they don't need to mess with them anymore, ESPECIALLY for The Game. Ohio State is not a half-a**ed program that needs to do things like this to try and charm an 18 year old. The history, tradition and excellence speaks for itself.

bowthrock's picture

You had me at EXPLOSIONS!

"Lets beat the shit out of Michigan".... Urban. Frank. Meyer.

kalabuckzoo's picture

...and inexplicable pyrotechnics. 

gobucks96's picture

any word about Poggi flipping to Bama? Saw something noting it earlier and couldn't tell if it was true or not.

WayCraKen's picture

UK's recruiting class at the moment is rated #35 and projected at #25 when all is done. And that did not include McWilson. 
Im still calling for 8 wins with a win over Louisville to start things off. 
The defensive class he has coming in looks strong. If he lands Hearns look out. 

BuckeyeRick's picture

Starting with a win over Louisville...that might be pushing it. It is a rivalry so anything can happen. I'm more inclinded to think that UK will have a completely new offense and a completely new defense, plus only fall practice with the new higher quality athletes, therefore they will not start off the season very well. I'm looking for 5-6 wins at the most, but the team will get better over the season.

buckeye4life050233's picture

Still disappointed about green.  with a couple spots opening up and him being a longtime fan you have to find room for those type of players.  even with a loaded backfield you just never know. 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I agree with this... We should've taken him and Zeke.  If Zeke didn't want the competition we could've taken Dontre and Green.

German Buckeye's picture

Within the next two years, Luke Fickell will be a head coach someplace (probably a MAC school) and Bo Pelini will be a coordinator for Ohio State - what he'll be coordinating, I won't venture a guess but he'll be on staff in some roll.