11W Recruiting Notebook: The Last Hurrah For Johnson, Elliott

By Alex on January 30, 2013 at 1:30p

One week is all that remains until National Signing Day. It has certainly been a wild finish for Ohio State and the rest of the college football world and in just seven days all of that will be put to rest.

Tisk, tisk TreyWill Trey Johnson flip to Tennessee?

Since the last time the notebook came out, Urban Meyer has seen multiple commits take visits to other schools, hosted a couple of super wide receiver prospects, saw an offensive line prospect commit elsewhere, and landed a wide receiver of his own.

When on the Dubcast with Johnny, I was asked what the biggest difference between recruiting under Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer was. While I gave a long-winded response about strategy and execution, I also talked about it from a media perspective and I can say with a lot of confidence that many more heads are spinning as Signing Day arrives under the new regime versus the old.

Keeping track of recruiting is hard enough as it is, but bring in Meyer's relentless efforts to not rest until a class is signed, and you have the recipe for recruiting analysts everywhere trading around cycles of information that seem to pop up each and every minute of the day. I know that I will certainly be relieved after Signing Day, if only for about 10 minutes before we have to start going at it for the class of 2014.

In this edition of the 11W Recruiting Notebook, we take a look at a couple of OSU verbals that are looking around, run down the current class as it stands today, and take a look at the prospects still out there that could end up in the Buckeye family come next Wednesday.

Commits Looking Around

A big story the past weekend surrounded two Ohio State verbal commitments taking official visits to other programs.

EzE stayinig or going?Ezekiel Elliott has OSU fans in a panic

RB Ezekiel Elliott was one of those players and he took a visit to Missouri, where both of his parents attended. Elliott was upfront and honest about the visit with the staff, and while they couldn't have been happy it was happening, what could they really do considering he handled the situation as professionally as he could.

I know a lot of fans are nervous about where this one will go, especially considering Ezekiel is not talking to reporters until Signing Day, but we are fairly confident that he will stick with the Buckeyes. Sure, it is a little weird he is going silent until Wednesday, adding to speculation he might be flipping, and I must admit I am a little apprehensive about this situation, but I can only go off what I am being told.

Sources close to the situation that we trust have assured us all is well between OSU and Zeke following the visit by Tom Herman and Stan Drayton on Monday, so we are going to roll with that info, regardless of any sources "not being on fire lately".

I think in the end Elliott always wanted to give Missouri one last look to make sure the school he grew up on wasn't the right one for him. The timing wasn't great, but I think he knows Ohio State is where he belongs and his parents are 100% behind that decision.

While Ezekiel was upfront with the OSU coaches, that was not the case with LB Trey Johnson who was at Tennessee this weekend. Johnson didn't necessarily lie to the Buckeye staff, but he wasn't forthcoming about the visit and even used Twitter to deceive Ohio State.

Johnson tweeted about going out in his home county of Gwinnett and about seeing his sister in Georgia on Saturday morning, as well as lied to Miles, saying the rumor of his visit wasn't true and then retweeting the following tweet displaying that information.

It turns out the four-star prospect was indeed at Rocky Top, but it doesn't appear as if it will mean anything. Both Trey's coach and father say he is "locked in" to OSU and will be signing with the Bucks next Wednesday on Signing Day.

It was certainly crazy in regard to holding on to the current commits over the last week, but it looks like Meyer and his staff have weathered the storm. We'll know for sure soon enough.

Current Outlook

East Mississippi Community College WR Corey Smith committed to Ohio State yesterday, bringing the 2013 class total to 23 members.

Smith joins the foldCorey Smith gives OSU a solid outside receiver

As things currently stand, the Buckeyes have 58 players returning from last year's roster and have 23 players coming in, bringing the total scholarship count to 81. The limit is 82 so there is technically room for 1 more player, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bucks take 2, possibly even 3 more players if they know about current members who are going to transfer before the start of fall camp.

The offensive class is full of playmakers at various positions and gives the unit a much-needed boost for the future of the Urban Era. The Bucks brought in quarterback JT Barrett to be the heir apparent to Braxton Miller, have Ezekiel Elliott at running back with a ton of versatility, and add Jalin Marshall, Taivon Jacobs, and Smith to a receiving corps that needs immediate depth. 

In addition to the aforementioned, one of the more underrated players in the class is TE Marcus Baugh. Baugh is expected to see playing time as a true freshman and brings a skill set that OSU fans have not seen at the position.

The offensive line is an area that the coaches struggled with a bit this past cycle, but both Evan Lisle and Tim Gardner are good players and you can bet any holes in that group will be taken care of with the class of 2014.

On defense the class is loaded and there really aren't any holes. Joey Bosa leads a tremendous defensive line haul, Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson are top-notch players for linebacker, and the secondary might be the strongest unit in the class, with Cam Burrows, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Jayme Thompson, Darron Lee, and Chris Worley all possibly contributing.

Things are certainly looking up for the future of Buckeye football and Meyer is making a legitimate push to have the nation's top-ranked class when Signing Day comes and goes next week.

The Remaining Targets

If Ohio State finished their class today as is, it would be a tremendous group that would be regarded as a consensus top-five class in the country. Many fans would be happy with the current haul, but fortunately Urban Meyer never settles and is on the hunt for a few more outstanding players to add to the class.

For whom will the Bell toll?Vonn Bell's recruitment is getting exciting

Remaining targets on the board include S Vonn Bell, ATH Dontre Wilson, WR James Clark, ATH Ryan Timmons, ATH Cornelius Elder, WR Darren Carrington Jr., and OL Cameron Hunt.

We got word coming out of the Under Armour Game that Vonn Bell may have slightly been favoring Ohio State. His official visit came and went with no commitment and then Nick Saban and Alabama had their crack at the five-star safety. Following that visit, Derek, Miles, and I all thought it was going to be "Roll Tide" for Bell, but we knew Meyer had not given up. 

Bell was in Knoxville this past weekend visiting Tennessee, the school he grew up rooting for. Butch Jones and his staff rolled out the red carpet for the star and it appears they made a good enough impression for the Vols to now be considered legitimate contenders for his services.

As things stand right now, the rumors are Alabama may be fading and it could be a Tennessee and Ohio State battle. I truly believe Vonn hasn't made his mind up yet, and with news coming out last night that he won't be talking to any schools after Thursday, it appears the time is now for that to happen.

I'm not going to pretend to know anything concrete when it comes to Bell, but it is my guess at this point that OSU is in good shape. I heard this morning that the staff feels good about where they stand, and although UT is making a strong push, I think the relationship that Vonn has with Ohio State may be too much to overcome. Nick Saban can never be counted out of this one either, despite reports that the Tide may not have much more room for 2013, so we will all just have to wait until 10 AM next Wednesday to find out where this goes. 

Wilson was in Columbus this past weekend for his official visit and from everything I hear it went very well, as expected. Wilson's coach told Derek that Dontre is still committed to Oregon, but right now his decision is a "toss-up" and he will make a visit to Texas this coming weekend before a possible NSD decision.

Right now I don't know how to feel about this situation, as I am not sure why he'd visit a local school in Texas if he was sure it is Oregon or Ohio State. He certainly could just want to see one more school to make sure of his choice, but this recruitment is certainly odd at this time and it will be interesting to see how things play out. I still think as of now it is Ducks or Bucks for Wilson and if I had to bet on one of them, I'd go Ohio State, but that is a pure guess and clearly Dontre is looking for something more before a decision is made.

Clark was also in Columbus this weekend and also had a good visit with the staff. He will visit Florida unofficially this weekend though, and it appears if the Gators have room for him that he will be headed to Gainesville. Anything can change, but right now the 11W staff sees OSU as number two behind UF for Clark's services.

Timmons will also visit Florida this weekend and is supposedly down to UF, OSU, Kentucky, and Illinois. If the Gators land Clark, I'm not sure there will be room for Timmons and I think his decision may come down to UK and the Buckeyes regardless.

I was not sure if Meyer would accept Timmons' pledge right this minute, as he may want to see what happens with Wilson and Clark before making that call, but it appears the heat is being turned up and an in-home visit is scheduled for today. Maybe I had this one completely wrong? We will see soon enough.

Elder was recently offered a basketball scholarship by Purdue and the sport is his first love so that may be tough to turn down. Other schools courting him for football are saying he could play hoops as well if he wants, but right now the Buckeyes are looking at him solely for the gridiron. I think, like Timmons, Elder is a backup option right now and I don't see him ending up in Columbus unless they miss on some of their higher-rated prospects.

Carrington is slated to be in Columbus this coming weekend, and if he does arrive it is "game on". The current Oregon commit is looking around and has been to Arizona and Arizona State since Chip Kelly's departure. To me, this is a kid looking for another option, and if the visit happens, the Buckeyes could certainly be that option.

Carrington, who doesn't hold an offer yet, is from San Diego, and it is my guess that without an offer in hand that he will not make the trip. Developments with other targets could determine if that happens or not, so stay tuned for more news on the West Coast star.

Finally, Hunt visited California last weekend, the program he was originally committed to. Coming out of that visit, it appears his choice could now be between the Golden Bears and Oregon, with Ohio State looking like a long shot. 

The Bucks lost out on OL Dan Skipper to Arkansas last week, so with it looking like they will lose Hunt as well, it appears the offensive line class for 2013 will close out with just two members.


Comments Show All Comments

weimerad's picture

Alex, is Coach Withers still planning on taking an in-home visit to Bell on Thursday?

Alex's picture

I believe that is the plan...at least last I heard

Gametime's picture

Yup, the Bell family said they're cutting off recruiting AFTER that in home visit. Let's hope that he seals the deal, as the possibility of a ton of GA boys & the "at home" feeling Vonn here + the chance to start early (something Bama can't offer) + the chance to immediately compete for a NC (something Tenn can't offer) makes for a very good chance we end up with his talents wrapped in S&G.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

It would be nice if McMillan and Johnson would get in his ear about heading north to Columbus.  Those GA boys would be a nice haul to have over the next 4-5 years. 

d1145fresh's picture

I don't know why (and have absolutely no facts to back this up) but I have some feeling that Urban asked Trey Johnson to go to Tennessee this past weekend to try and develop a relationship with Vonn Bell. This would explain why he was stating there would be no visit then all the sudden showed up there the same weekend Vonn was there. Again I have no reason to believe this but if there is one thing I have seen with Vonn Bell is that he holds relationships very high in his recruitment and having a growing friendship with another recruit from Georgia might help push OSU over the top. 

Codeezy's picture

That's an awesome point. Holy balls.

osu07asu10's picture

Urban is a great coach and one that is dedicated to recruiting and recruiting the best...I find this very hard to fathom.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

d1145fresh's picture

Don't get me wrong its absolutely crazy but it might be crazy like a fox. It seems like every all of the recruits of OSU have stated at one point or another that they have been told of other kids out there that they should try to target and get to know. Whether that takes place at AA games or camps over the summer. I don't think its completely crazy to look at the January Visitor thread and notice that the January 11-13 weekend (which had huge uncommitted recruits visiting) we had our biggest committed recruits visit that weekend too (Bosa, Jacobs, Baugh, Marshall, Lee). I know its crazy but kids like to play with their friends and anything might help. 

CasualBystander's picture

That's why he lied to Urban about being at Tennessee? Because Urban told him to be there...Oh the logic. IMO there is a zero percent chance Trey being at UT was some super secret ploy by Meyer to help get in Bell's ear. The OSU coaches didn't even know he was there, and I know they're some of the best recruiting strategists in the country, but this theory just doesn't add up

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." - Mark Twain

d1145fresh's picture

I don't ever remember seeing anywhere that he has lied to the OSU staff about going to Tennessee. Even in the article above it states he didn't exactly lie to the staff but might have been a little bit deceptive. He lied to the 11w staff about what his plans were but we have no clue what he may or may not have said privately to the OSU staff (and on that point what the OSU staff has said to him privately). Like I said it is crazy but who knows in recruiting. 

CasualBystander's picture

The only information we have in the matter is what is being reported (Alex) and what we know about how recruits act.
"Johnson tweeted about going out in his hometown of Gwinnett and about seeing his sister in Georgia on Saturday morning, as well as lied to Miles, saying the rumor of his visit wasn't true and then retweeting the following tweet displaying that information." **BTW, as a person originally from the area, Gwinnett is a county, not a city**
It sure sounds like the OSU staff didn't know he was there to me, and it's my experience that recruits tend to be as sneaky as they can get away with. Pharaoh Brown lost his spot in UM's class last year for secretly visiting Oregon, and the David Dawson story is widely known after he lied about Florida.
I don't think it's inconceivable Meyer had his finger in this one, I'm just more impressed he didn't flip out and cancel Trey's scholarship when he found out about the visit. He's a better man than me...

"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." - Mark Twain

Maestro's picture

Miles is an 11W staffer.

vacuuming sucks

btalbert25's picture

That's if the coaching staff was honest with those at 11W who were told it was a surprise. I can't imagine the staff coming out and saying, "Yeah, we secretly asked Trey to go on an official on another school's dime, to get him to recruit a player that was also visiting that other school on their dime."  
All that being said, I agree with you.  I know Urban is 2nd to none when it comes to recruiting, and he has made some ridiculous recruiting pitches over the years, but I think this one is more in line with the Legend of Urban's recruiting and not the actual recruiting done by Urban.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

i like where your head is at...

actionstanleyjackson's picture

My guess is:
Timmons and I think they get Bell also

Stay golden, Ponyboy.

btalbert25's picture

I really was counting Bell out of this class, and still not convinced he comes here, but I think we'll see the class end up with Bell and Timmons as the last 2 commits.  I just don't think at this point in the game, Urban makes a home visit to a kid they aren't interested in taking.

BuddhaBuck's picture

regardless of any sources "not being on fire lately"..

This jab at a previous 11W post is pure gold.

Don't text while driving.

btalbert25's picture

I agree, I was cracking up when I read that.

Buck U's picture

^Yeah, that one caught my attention also.
Keep up the good work Alex.  With the way recruiting is going down, no one can be right 100% of the time.

GoBucks713's picture

Maybe that guy meant the 3 days he's been on 11dub as "lately"?

-The Aristocrats!

BuddhaBuck's picture

Downvote accepted.  It was a known risk that I had to take.

Don't text while driving.

Gametime's picture

As long as I keep seeing this from Ezekiel Elliott's MIZZOU grad mother then I'd wager we have no reason to worry.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

Killer nuts's picture

You know interest in recruiting has reached a new level when we're using what a recruit's mother is tweeting as a lead on where a guy is going

actionstanleyjackson's picture

jbook ‏@jbook37
Per @davebiddle believes that Ohio State will land James Clark after interviewing him for Bucknuts Front Row Radio that airs tomorrow.

Stay golden, Ponyboy.

Joe4's picture

It's strange that we keep finding ourselves facing off with Tennessee for recruits.  I just hope the result with Bell is the same as it was with Corey Smith and Trey Johnson.  

toad1204's picture

Jones' previous stops (Central Michigan for 9 yrs WVU for 1 yr and UC for 2 yrs) seems to make it only natural for him to recruit Ohio.  Guessing he was in contact with Ohio schools/ players/ coaches the whole time.  Just think of those UT offers as MAC or UC offers and it makes a little more sense.  He's recruiting areas he knows.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

EvanstonBuckeye's picture

Probably speaks to the fact that we're doing well in the region (Georgia especially) and that Tennessee is on a bit of an upswing with a new coach. The more recruiting "battles" we face with the likes of Bama, Florida, and other SEC schools, the better the recruiting we are doing, IMO.

Hasbro's picture

I love this stuff. This is better than Christmas.

Mi.Buckeye's picture

I think adding Bell and Clark would be a great finish and end everything as a top 3 recruiting class.

toad1204's picture

Hoping the high profile recruitment of Bell and Johnson help for the Georgia recruits the staff is going after in for the 2014 class especially with 'Kwon visiting 'Bama last week.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

Catch 5's picture

Re:  Vonn Bell
You guys had me optimistic that Bell was coming to Alabama, but with the things you describe here, added to the commitment of Eddie Jackson to Bama today (a less-heralded WR/Ath who will play DB at Bama), it seems that they have begun to close the door on him. 
But like you say, it ain't over till 10:00, NSD.

Make their asses quit! - Nick Saban

thePITman's picture

I'll be really happy if we get just 1 of either Vonn Bell or Dontre Wilson... preferably Vonn Bell (especially with the acquisition of Corey Smith). I just have a bad feeling we're going to miss out on both. But if we GET both, then I'll be blown away!

PITmanStats.com - Northeast Ohio Sports Opinions and Numbers

DJRivera24's picture

So OSU is firmly in the chase for four guys: Bell, Wilson, Clark, and Timmons. What happens if they all say yes? I guess it comes down to who can sign their name the fastest.


Alex's picture

they won't let them all say yes....as I've hinted to I think there's clearly a pecking order amongst the recruits

TOP: Bell, Wilson

NEXT: James Clark

RISING: Ryan Timmons

BACK-UP: Corn Elder

DJRivera24's picture

That makes sense. I guess the tricky part comes with Timmons announcing the day before the three prospects above him. 


Alex's picture

Yeah but all of them will decide/tell the coaches before NSD I would guess

DJRivera24's picture

Will be fun thats for sure. Thanks Alex.


USMC11917's picture

I know everyone wants to "score" but after watching our average safeties the last two years, I'd take Bell and call it a year if I had to. Wilson, Clark, Timmons and Elder all would look wonderful in S&G but I am satisfied with the offensive talent we've pulled in thus far. If any of you offensive guys that i just mentioned are reading this, It doesn't mean the Buckeyenation doesn't want you, far from it. Things are getting tight!

kmp10's picture

In stating the obvious, I have absolutely no "sources" or any "connections" specific to football recruiting. Like most everyone else who frequents this site I simply have a "gut feeling" regarding these players. In saying that, I was VERY surprised to see Alex write of James Clark "it appears if the Gators have room for him that he will be headed to Gainesville.". I thought (gut feeling/tweets/what I've read) of all the remaining TOP targets (Bell, Wilson, Clark and Carrington) that Clark was the player most likely to come to Ohio State. I don't consider Timmons or Elder top targets (for OSU), rather I consider them to be backup options. As for Hunt, I never believed that Ohio State was a serious consideration for him. Wilson, a PAC12 kind of RB, stays at Oregon. Timmons stays in state and heads to Kentucky. Elder plays basketball at Purdue, and Hunt stays on the west coast. Clark and Bell commit to Ohio State. Carrington is my wild card. He can play for Urban Meyer at one of the five most storied, tradition laden programs in the history of college football... or he can play at Oregon, the "flavor of the month," for a first time head coach. For a kid who grew up in San Diego to make a (possible) trip to Columbus a week from NLOI day tells me he's looking for the best football opportunity. Whether that opportunity is on the west coast, or on the "north coast" is irrelevant. He seems to be all business, and thinking career and best chance to showcase his ability. If that opportunity resides in Ohio then so be it.

Alex's picture

could be completely wrong on Clark and you could be right...I think OSU is #2 right now but the fact he is visiting Florida this weekend speaks volumes to me, considering he's been there five other times...it's an unofficial too, so all on his own dime

thePITman's picture

Some comments from @jbook37 on twitter regarding James Clark:
 - James Clark tells @davebiddle that the winter weather in Ohio will not affect his decision. Said if he goes to the NFL he has to play in it.
- James Clark tells @davebiddle that he has a great relationship with the staff & Corey Smith commitment will not affect his decision.
- Big thing that stands out in the James Clark interview is he mention that Florida is already bringing in 5 WR's already & he looks at depth
Just a thought. And then @jbook37 posted the highlight video to Clark that I hadn't seen yet... Clark has some of the best breakaway speed I've seen on a highlight film since Ted Ginn, Jr and Brandon Saine. He wouldn't be a bad 3rd choice if we don't get Bell/Wilson. http://www.hudl.com/athlete/551318/highlights/32901421

PITmanStats.com - Northeast Ohio Sports Opinions and Numbers

Joe4's picture

Re: Bell, I can't tell if I think this is ultimately positive or negative:  “It is a real blessing to be able to possibly have an impact like Eric Berry had at Tennessee,” Bell said. “He is a phenomenal player, and although I think I would make a big difference, it takes more than one person. You have to have an offense, special teams and bring it all to the table. So we will see how they end up and what happens with them over the next week.” 

BuddhaBuck's picture

As aspirations go, I'd love to see Bell commit to tOSU and be the next Donte Whitner or Malcolm Jenkins.

Don't text while driving.

AcrossTheField11's picture

...Or Winfield, Doss, Springs et al.  We are definitely DB U.  
Here's to hoping he doesn't turn out to be the next Eugene Clifford if he does indeed commit to the S&G.  

Time and change will surely show how firm they friendship... O-HI-O.

buckeye76BHop's picture

You forgot my all time favorite DB for OSU...Jack Tatum.  Unfortunately he'd be pentalized over 5 times a game these days....he's still my fav.  You should watch that link...it's great stuff from Tress and Co from back in the day about Jack.  Good things...

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I think his heart is with UT, but he knows he won't be able to win titles there.  He is a young man who has a shot to play for a team that can win conference and national titles.  He knows UT isn't going to have the players to do that in his time in college.

BuddhaBuck's picture

Players and/or coaches for that matter.
Hold up, phone's ringing, it's Urban on the line.

Don't text while driving.

buckeye4life050233's picture

I really hope we can snag Bell he is the icing on the cake this year with Wilson a close second.  We need guys in space that make a 2 yd play go 15-20

Dougger's picture

i see you channeled your inner Kirk Herbstreit there...well done

I like football

partisan's picture

Just read that Meyer has an in home visit tonight with Timmons.   If true, that's gotta mean we're on the outs for clark/wilson

Bj Mullens over Sully's picture

Don't think it nessicarily means that, I think Meyer is making sure he leaves himself with all the options he can.

Favorite Buckeye: Obviously BJ Mullens