11W Recruiting Mailbag: Spring Finale

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 17, 2013 at 4:30p

It's Wednesday afternoon, it's 4:30 p.m. and moving forward that means that you're stuck with me. I'll be your humble host on a journey that will take us all over the landscape of Buckeye recruiting. We'll traverse the highs and lows and we'll roam from coast to coast trying to make sure that you, our faithful readers, want for nothing when it comes to Buckeye recruiting news. 

Every week I'll try to bring you something different but this feature – the mailbag – so wonderfully executed in the past by Alex and Derek, will be a regular and recurring column. The feedback and number of questions I've received in the past day has been overwhelming, and it's clear that there's no end to your ravenous recruiting appetites, so I will do my very best to satiate you monsters.

This particular version of the mailbag will focus on where the Buckeyes stand with a number of their key targets as we reach the midway point of this recruiting cycle. The recent commitments of Cleveland St. Ignatius standout Kyle Berger and Cincinnati Moeller star Sam Hubbard pushed the Buckeyes to seven commitments in a class that could number no more than 16-17, so it stands to reason that you'll see the normally aggressive Buckeye coaching staff playing it close to the vest in the coming months.

Now that we've got the pleasantries and how-do-you-dos out of the way, let's cut to the chase. 

We'll get started with a question from Twitter user @Buckeye1421, who has a two-piece question about the 2014 wide receiver situation in the wake of a trio of Buckeye targets – Michigan's Drake Harris (TTUN), Springfield's Thaddeus Snodgrass (UK) and California's Dallis Todd (Oklahoma) – committing elsewhere.

How do we lose a player like Snodgrass to Kentucky? With him and Harris off the board, who are the top WRs left?

Snodgrass was a player who wanted to commit to the Buckeyes late last year, but the Buckeyes were not ready to take his commitment and because of that it seemed that two sides went their separate ways. He's an excellent player, but Ohio State had other targets in mind and he went elsewhere. Kentucky is getting a heck of a player, but the Buckeyes are not lamenting the loss. Harris is a different story – he is a talent that would have been "waited" for until signing day – and the Buckeyes gave it their best shot but there was too much drawing him to Ann Arbor. Dallis Todd was scheduled to visit this weekend, but after his pledge to Oklahoma on Monday, he's off the list as well.

Now the Buckeyes will turn their attention to securing Demarre Kitt, who has a big visit to Tennessee looming this weekend, Cincinnati's Derek Kief and Scottsdale WR Mark Andrews (visiting Thursday) to fill two outside WR spots. They will be in it until the end for Cleveland Glenville's Marshon Lattimore and would have to be the favorite to secure his commitment when it's all said and done.

Other players to keep your eyes on would include Durham (N.C.) Hillside's Trevion Thompson, the interesting Lonnie Johnson, Middletown's (Del.) Chris Godwin and a handful of others that could include Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian's Isaiah Ford and Braxton Berrios, a slot-type WR from Raleigh (N.C.) who has been in steady contact with the Buckeyes and would be thrilled to eventually get an Ohio State offer.

Did Clifton Garrett really drop the Buckeyes?  Buckeyes125 

Clifton has not officially dropped the Buckeyes, but it does appear that his recruitment is trending away from Ohio State. There has been speculation that he's turned off by what he perceives as the Buckeyes' LB strength (Mitchell and Johnson last year and the commitments of Berger and Hubbard, combined with the notion that Raekwon McMillan and Dante Booker are leaning scarlet and gray), but he flatly denies that any competition is going to scare him off.

He did admit that he's "really liking the SEC right now and a few schools on the West Coast." He will be checking out LSU this weekend for their spring game, and while I don't expect him to commit this weekend, I do expect him to be utterly blown away by the experience and would not be surprised if that was his eventual landing spot, despite popular belief that Ole Miss should be considered the favorite. Bottom line straight from the horse's mouth? 

"I've not eliminated the Buckeyes, but we've not really had much contact lately."

What's the deal with Derek Kief? Great question.

Watson is the obvious #1 target at QB, and then? If he doesn't flip, is there a chance the Buckeyes don't take a QB in this class?  TennBuckeye19

At this point, the Ohio State recruiting situation is about as mysterious as it could possibly be. Yes, the common thought is that Watson is – and has been – the number one guy for some time and that's accurate, to a degree. That being said, there's another committed QB who the Buckeyes would be thrilled to hear from in the event that his situation changed, as unlikely as it is.

I think the coaching staff is intent on taking a quarterback no matter what, and they will go one by one down their list until they find the guy who fits the system the best and wants to be a part of their program. They are not in dire need at the position, thanks to the improvement of Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett waiting in the wings, but I think ideally they'd have five in the system.

Is Hubbard being recruited as a LB? He seems like a TE to me.  DanBrown7665

I'm with you, I see Hubbard as a TE – or maybe a defensive end – but I don't think he ends up at linebacker for a few reasons. The most important of those reasons is that I have it on good authority that the Buckeyes are taking three linebackers this year, and that they still are trying to find two more. Logically then, with Berger in the fold, they believe that they currently have one linebacker committed.

One 11W user, Danify, took a shot at getting a number of queries answered at once. I'll answer two, because this is not the Danify show, after all.

With Jeb Blazevich not visiting, what other tight ends do you see the staff focusing on? With Caleb Henderson recently committing to North Carolina, what QBs (without offers) are the Buckeyes focused on? 

Blazevich is one of my favorite players in this class, because I think he's a great example of a kid doing things the right way, and while I am not ruling out OSU as his eventual destination, I think it's more likely that he stays a bit closer to home. If that happens, the Buckeyes will hope to get good news from Indiana's Austin Roberts in May, and if he ends up spurning them for another school, I could see them "settling" with Hubbard at TE, but that could also open the door for Daniel Helm, who visited last week, to get a longer look as well. 

I briefly talked about – and with – Bossier City (La.) quarterback Brandon Harris yesterday and the Buckeyes are suddenly one of many schools hot on the trail of the junior QB. I don't know the "order" of things from the coaching staff's perspective, but I think it's clear that they did not have exactly what they're looking for in the popular trio of Kyle Allen, Caleb Henderson and Drew Barker, so they are continuing to look beyond Watson. Allen has not been in contact with the Buckeyes lately, Henderson has committed elsewhere and Barker has turned his attention to the schools that have offered him (understandably) and might not have the same "love" for the Buckeyes that he once had.

One thing is for sure: the Buckeyes will find a QB to fit their system. Remember, Kenny Guiton and Troy Smith were virtual afterthoughts in the recruiting process.

Of the Georgia players Myles Autry, Raekwon McMillan, Deshaun Watson and DeMarre Kitt, who do you think is the most likely to land at OSU?  Poison Nut

I think in order of greatest possibility, it would have to be McMillan, Kitt, Watson and then Autry.

Which current commit or possible commit is/would be the best to help recruit other talent?  45oh4io

I'm a big believer in the tenant that your on-the-field leaders are generally your off-the-field leaders, and so in that vein, a commitment from a quarterback or linebacker that is an assertive, charismatic, extrovert is what I think best helps draw in other players. At present, the Buckeyes are not close to getting a commitment from a signal-caller, so I'll suggest that Kyle Berger (among the current commitments) and Raekwon McMillan (among players who could eventually choose the Buckeyes) would have the biggest impact. The Buckeyes have a great – and active – group of players already committed that are aggressively attempting to help recruit, so don't worry about that.

Where do things stand with Derek Kief?  Ahh Saturday

Kief is an interesting player, and I've been told a number of times that his offer is in fact committable, but something seems to be keeping him from committing, despite numerous smoke-signals surrounding him and a pending decision. Whether or not that delay is a result of Kief being uncertain of his decision or the possibility that he's this year's Ryan Timmons, one thing is clear: he's a big-time talent with a lot of very good offers and the Buckeyes have not shied away from keeping tabs on him. It's almost as if he is perpetually on the "next to commit" list but is just as likely to never get the chance. 

What is the latest at RB?  Squirrel Master

The Buckeyes are filthy loaded at running back, and I just don't think that they have a desire to really expend too much energy and time recruiting a position that is not of need at this time; they have a number of other spots (LB, OL, WR) that they believe are much more pressing. Would they have turned down commitments from Jalen Hurd or a Joe Mixon type? Of course not. Will they discourage a player like Derrell Scott, a speedburner from Havelock (N.C.) who lists the Buckeyes firmly in his top five without visiting, from doing so? Again, of course not. They will take an elite-level running back if one comes knocking, but they won't be disappointed if they don't this season.

Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde depart after this year, but Rod Smith, Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball, Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson are waiting in the wings, so don't be surprised if they look to 2015 – where Urban is already aggressively courting Orlando sensation Jacques Patrick – to make their next running back splash.


Comments Show All Comments

SilverBulletNYC's picture

Jeremy, great work! I'm glad to have you back on the team. Quick question: in your article, you said "the recent commitments of Cleveland St. Ignatius standout Kyle Berger and Cincinnati Moeller star Sam Hubbard pushed the Buckeyes to seven commitments in a class that could number no more than 16-17." With attrition this spring as well as next offseason, as well as players possibly leaving early (Roby, Shazier, Miller), do you not think the class will go above 20?

The South will NOT rise again!

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think that the likelihood is the class will grow to 19-20, but never like to count chickens before they're hatched.

otrain2416's picture

I think the class will be above 20 we were saying around the same numbers for last years class this time and we ended up taking 24

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

millertime2011's picture

Who is the other committed QB you're talking about? Heard from texas?

Triv's picture

Could Mack Brown's potential departure cause him to reconsider?

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Without direct knowledge of that being the case, I'd not want to conjecture too much - but I believe that's what the staff thinks.

millertime2011's picture

Thanks. I know you say that it's unlikely, but if Texas has another underachieving season and Brown steps down (read: forced out) is this the kind of kid that stays anyway because it's his home state or does he look elsewhere?
Edit: And I'm again too slow

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Because Heard committed so early (and to the hometown school) I've never spoken with him, so I can't speak directly on what he's thinking. I know that Herman made - and has always had - some serious in-roads into Texas, and if even a sliver of hope is determined he would flip, then Heard will get the full-court press.

Triv's picture

2 questions:
1. You only see the class at 16-17? There will be 14 graduating seniors, Roby is as good as gone, And Shazier could leave as well. Do you not see much attrition coming this year? Typically anywhere from 3-5 guys leave for one reason or another.
2. Who is said other "committed QB" OSU wants to hear from?
Edit: This is awkward, my two questions were asked by the only 2 posters in front of me as I typed my post out

Sorry Urban, Woody is still my favorite

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Answered both of these above.

Royball's picture

Great insight Jeremy, glad to see you back at 11W!  I'm guessing the committed QB you're talking about is Grier?

4-6 seconds of relentless effort

lljjgg's picture

Good stuff, Jeremy!

Why are you bearish on the possibility of Autry being an OSU commit, if I may ask? I don't ask that because I disagree (he definitely seems to be trending SEC/ACC, i.e. more towards staying in the southern region), I'm merely wondering if you've heard anything regarding whether he is moving in that direction/why he's moving in that direction?

His recruitment has been interesting. For about 6-7 months I noticed everything he posted was OSU, maybe even more out there in his OSU support than McMillan is now (which is a LOT). However, I also noticed it coincidentally kind of taper off a couple of months ago around the time we got the surprise Dontre Wilson commit. He still shows some OSU love on twitter, but it's pretty rare. Makes you wonder whether he's sort of backed off of OSU because of the newly-perceived depth at the "Percy position." 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

With Autry - it comes down to the RB need - and I think the depth at the position means it's much lower on the priority board for the coaches. If he wants in, and they have room, sure - but they won't be saving a spot for a RB unless it's someone very, very special.

lljjgg's picture

Awesome, appreciate the insight! Kind of interesting to see the way Coach Meyer uses the tools at his disposal. I was watching the Oklahoma v Florida BCS Championship game again the other night, and it struck me how different our RB situation is here. If Meyer were still running his offense the same way, he'd be looking to take every Dontre Wilson/Myles Autry he could get -- in that game alone they used 3 different 5'10/180ish speedster RBs. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I would not be surprised if last year changed Urban'd mind a bit on exactly what he is looking for at RB in the Big Ten. He's got some pretty big dudes in the backfield and I think we'll see the Buckeyes continue to look in that direction still - which goes against what people thought he'd look for. Yes, there is a need for the "Harvin" but I bet he sees the value in a "Hyde" as well.

dbit's picture

Thank you for "satiating" us " monsters"!

BuddhaBuck's picture

Impressive work Jeremy. Now my work day is complete and it's time to go home.
Did anyone ask what the over/under is (days or months) until the next gray box appears on 11W?

Don't text while driving.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Nope, no one asked that question, therefore I can't answer it by law. 



BuddhaBuck's picture

Haha, until the next Mailbag.....

Don't text while driving.

Hovenaut's picture

Appreciate the updates, especially on Kief and the Georgia Four.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

You're welcome.

Poison nuts's picture

Thanks for the answers & great job with them. I'm pretty sure I read another thread recently where you indicated you didn't think Kitt would be a part of this class. Curious as to why you were thinking that? Thanks again.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Nappy's picture

Good to have ya back

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

Buckeyes125's picture

Thanks for answering my question. Appreciate it!

TheBadOwl's picture

Thoughts on Jonathan Haden?

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

b_pbucksfans's picture

Great mailbag Jeremy! Concerning the RB position, you are the 2nd recruiting aficionado that has included Dontre Wilson in the RB group. Is Dontre going to play RB or slot? How will/does this effect EZE? Thank you kind sir!

jackson's picture

the coaches today had little press today they would start at dontre at rb and now with the diamond package wilson and eze back there with the other backs hyde look out

otrain2416's picture

Great stuff Jeremy! Only guy I think you over looked for the "leader" of this class is Kyle Trout. I know its easy to over look him cuz he's an offensive lineman but it seems like he's been at OSU every big recruiting weekend they've had since he committed including the spring game. He also seemed to be recruiting Berger and Hubbard hard before they committed. I mean obviously things could change in the future but Trout has by far been the leader of this class up til now IMO.

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Not overlooking Kyle at all, he's definitely a leader in the class and I will have a feature on that very topic later this week. 

otrain2416's picture

awesome can't wait to read it thanks again for the update great stuff!

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

MN Buckeye's picture

IF the class ends up at only 16-17, we are nearly half-way there.  Are there concerns about not getting some of the 5* that have us highly regarded if we accept the commitments of others?  We must have something like 140 offers out there.

73buckeye's picture

Jeremy: I was suprised you didn't mention Jabril Peppers. Is he gonna go to the dark side?


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Peppers is going to be a battle to the end - Michigan is and has been a team of serious interest for a while, so last week's visit and subsequent admiration should not be a surprise. Buckeyes won't go away, but gotta think UM is in the driver's seat.

zbd's picture

Thanks for the great recruiting update. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thank you for reading it. 

m5987usus's picture

Jeremy, whats up pal?  What is the deal with lonnie johnson?  What about Deshaun Watson?


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

If in fact Derek Kief is this year's Ryan Timmons, then Lonnie Johnson would have to be this year's Shelton Gibson.

Watson is a simple answer: IF he visits Ohio State this summer, then I truly believe it's game on.

cinserious's picture

I was under the impression that Jabrill Peppers was mainly between OSU and Stanford. Did I miss something in the last few weeks that put Peppers leaning TTUN? I sure hope not.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

chirobuck's picture

Great stuff......one thing you didn't touch on was the Oline, could you list some of the elite lineman we have a shot with in order of likelyhood they end up here???


^ best post ever ^

73buckeye's picture

Most of you have probably seen this already, but it's a great idea and well done. Reportedly, Damon Webb and his mom put it together. This kid may turn out to be one of the most important recruits in years. That'll be especially grating to our friends up north. Here's hoping it helps reel in another great class in 2014. Are you ready for some football????



stevebelliseeya's picture

Wow! Thank you for this link...I would have never know about such a cool site.

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool