11W Recruiting Roundup: What's The Hurry?

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 24, 2013 at 4:30p

The game of football has changed. A lot.

Drew Barker has continued to wait on the BuckeyesBarker has waited patiently, is he over it?

Those changes have been for the good in some cases – like the commercialization of the sport which helps mid-major colleges gain television exposure they never would have had access to in years past – and bad for the game in some cases, like the commercialization of the sport which has taken college student-athletes and turned them into celebrities to the nth degree. 

As the game has changed on the field, and the attention paid to it off the field has increased, the attention paid to recruiting and recruiting websites (thankfully) has also increased exponentially, prompting thousands of fans and prospects alike to flock to Twitter, Facebook and whatever other medium that can be found. Day in and day out, overzealous fans pimp their favorite programs, hoping to somehow lure the nation's elite to whatever college campus serves as the home for their glory days. At the same time, recruits and their families work tirelessly to promote themselves and their talents so that they can land whatever offer they covet the most. 

It's actually kind of beautiful. The passion, the intensity, the love of the game; but the rush ends at some point, the appeal of non-stop attention ends at some point and when it's all said and done, the recruit who was so fawned over during his recruitment becomes just another small potato at a football factory pushing out order after order of large fries. It's a constant push for attention and affection from schools that offer much with little guarantees, and the players eat it up, often without truly considering half of the schools that offer them a scholarship, yet each offer is met with screams from the mountaintop.

One prominent Midwest high school football coach can't really understand that concept. Why clamor for offers and yet not truly consider every school that's willing to pony up hundreds of thousands of scholarship dollars for your services?

"Why do they want offers if they never take visits?" he said. "I don't understand it. How do you truly know what you want? I just wish kids would make sure. If you've waited your whole life for one school, then jump on it, but it's folks who never explore their options that I worry about. I'm just trying to make sure our kids see more schools, it's good for everyone."

The Case of Drew Barker

Some players, like Hebron (Ky.) quarterback Drew Barker, garnered so much positive attention for the affection that he had for Ohio State early in the process – he visited the Buckeyes upwards of six times in 2012 – that the perceived "slighting" from the Buckeyes (read: no offer – yet) has many people shaking their heads and wondering why Ohio State would not have secured his pledge early. With scholarship offers from 14 schools spanning the SEC, Big Ten, and ACC and recently named an ESPN Top-150 player, Barker wanted to get his recruitment over with quickly, wanted to start the ball rolling as a leader in his class.

The simple answer is this: there's no simple answer, and more importantly, it's really not been "that long."

All things considered, Barker and his 2014 classmates are not finished with their junior years of high school. The old days of recruiting, when players got recruited as juniors and seniors has been replaced with a new, accelerated calendar that sees commitments from 15-year-olds and scholarship offers to 8th graders. Barker has seen his name tossed around recruiting circles, and especially Buckeye circles since the end of his sophomore year, so two full years of being "slow-played" by the team that was his longtime, and admitted, favorite has no doubt seemed like twice that long.

The Buckeyes have extended two offers to quarterbacks in Barker's class, so while it's apparent that he was not one of their top two choices at the position, is being the "third" choice (if in fact he is, which I can't verify with certainty) at the school you've dreamt of playing at your life enough of a reason to push you to another college? Barker has waited, but has he waited long enough for his own contention? The scuttlebutt surrounding his recruitment is that perhaps he has, and that a decision could be pending (South Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky being rumored as the leading candidates). Barker admits he's been frustrated at times, and that the Buckeyes haven't been in touch as often recently, but that he was asked to give the staff a call this week. Is there still hope for Barker? If the Buckeyes make the call four months from now, is it too late?

Why wait? Why hurry? Tough decision for a 16-year-old kid trying to make a life-altering decision. Are the Buckeyes wrong for not offering a player who might not be the perfect fit for their system when there's still nine months to signing day? It's a complex situation.

The Case of Demetrius Knox

As a 6-foot-4, near 300-pound kid, it's kind of hard to do anything and not get noticed. Demetrius Knox does not – and has never been one to – mind the attention.

When the offensive lineman made his commitment to the University of Texas in November, it was not without some disappointment from the Buckeye staff and droves of recruitniks on the internet.

It was the right time for Knox, an Ohio native living just outside of Dallas, to pull the trigger and pledge "Hook 'Em," and he got the added bonus of knowing that he was going to play college ball with his good friend, teammate Daniel Gresham, a fullback that the 'Horns had also brought on board. The commitment of Knox was one that was a bit surprising, because many expected him to ride out the process a bit, and Texas coach Mack Brown has a notoriously stringent policy against issuing a verbal commitment to Texas and subsequently visiting other schools. Long story short? Mack no like it. Mack no like it at all.

So, it was with some consternation amongst Texas fans when – despite the knowledge that Mack no likey – Knox planned to check out the Buckeyes, still actively recruiting him despite his commitment to Texas, on a trip to Ohio in April. Ohio is, after all, "home" for the lineman known as "Meechy" and a visit was nothing more than cursory. He was forthright with Texas, ensuring that Brown knew of the trip, but that was not enough to calm the storm that followed. After his visit to Ohio State, Knox went back to Texas and reiterated his commitment to Texas, actively recruiting for the Longhorns, but never denying that he was always going to be a Buckeye fan. That did not go over so well with the fans who had rooted him on for months, and the divide between him and Texas grew to uncomfortable levels, culminating in his decision to re-open his recruitment last Thursday.

Demetrius Knox was thrilled to meet Braxton MillerKnox made an early decision - it didn't last.

"I decommitted Thursday because I felt like I was growing more and more away from (Texas)," Knox said. "The fans didn't seem like they had much love for for me anymore, so I thought I might as well give them what they want (and decommit). I had to do what was best for me, and I let Coach Brown decide when he wanted it to be public."

Now, Knox has decided it's in his best interest to wait until January to make a decision again. He sees this as his moment to be in the spotlight and doesn't see a reason to shy away from it. You only live once, right? 

"Ohio State fans have always shown me love," he said. "I don't know for sure if I will make an official visit there, but I'd like to get there for the Penn State game. I've never been to a game at Ohio State, but I have always wanted to and I want to see my boy Braxton again."

For Knox, the situation is simple. Why decide now? He's seen the ugly side of the recruiting cycle and wants to make sure that he gets to see what he wants to see. It's his decision, his recruitment and his time.

"I don't have any favorites at this time though. I am wide open," Knox added. "People were saying Ohio State, UCLA and Miami are my top three, but that's not accurate; they are just three of the schools recruiting me the hardest right now."

Buckeye Targets Heading Elsewhere & Other Notes

There was a flurry of commitment action yesterday, specifically at the tight end position, and none of it was positive for the Buckeyes. Three different tight ends that had varying levels of Buckeye interest all made their decisions, and all three chose other schools. The highest-rated of the three, North Carolina's Jeb Blazevich, let 11W know last week that a decision was coming, and he ended up making an appearance on ESPNU, choosing the Georgia Bulldogs. He did however, have even more parting compliments for the Buckeyes and their coaching staff.

"I called the Buckeyes in the morning, before making the final decision," Blazevich said. "The call went well, and I have even more respect for Coach Hinton than ever. He's an incredibly classy guy. 

Hinsdale (Ill.) product Ian Bunting decided to make his choice as well, issuing a verbal commitment to Michigan and Glen Elyn's (Ill.) Daniel Helm, who visited the Buckeyes recently but left without an offer, became the second tight end in two weeks to verbal to Tennessee and Butch Jones.

Middletown (Del.) has now seen two players that were garnering Buckeye attention commit elsewhere. Quarterback Darius Wade visited the Buckeyes two weeks ago and then promptly committed to Boston College after a visit there the following weekend, and now Wade's top receiver, Chris Godwin, has made a decision to attend Penn State. 

Another target at the tight-end/H-back/big wide receiver spot for the Buckeyes, Carmel (Ind.) prospect Austin Roberts, has been rethinking his decision to announce his school choice in mid-May, a timeline he announced roughly a week ago. He's recently received an offer from Florida State, and Roberts – a Florida native – just thinks he needs more time to properly evaluate all his choices.

"I've got a lot of options and I think they all deserve a full look," Roberts said. "My dad agreed that I should hold off a bit on the decision, also." 

Ohio State defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs is slated to stop in and check on Roberts later this week.

Speaking of players making their decisions "early", I talked briefly with Caleb Henderson and C.J Reavis, two Virginia juniors. Henderson is another QB prospect that the Buckeyes had been eyeing for the past year that was long-rumored to be leaning towards Ohio State if they were to offer, and he recently committed to North Carolina. His reasoning?

"Why keep looking when you find what you're looking for? UNC has everything," Henderson told me. "It's a good school, the players are all very cool, Coach Fedora is cool and it's a great family atmosphere."

Reavis, a four-star safety who was offered by the Buckeyes in February after two visits last summer, chose to stay in-state and pledged to Virginia Tech, who was the first school to give him a scholarship offer.

"I just felt really at home there and they were the first school to offer me so it was like love at first sight," Reavis said. "Why wait and take away opportunities from other recruits looking to get offers by holding out when I already knew where I wanted to be?"

Ohio State continues to be the front-runner for Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary's Dante Booker according to most in the know, but a second visit to Notre Dame has some wondering if that footing is less solid than once thought. Ohio State has continued to offer linebackers throughout the country, and with the long-held belief that Booker and Hinesville (Ga.) star Raekwon McMillan had their "spot" in the class secured, one could wonder what the additional offers going out are for. The Buckeyes, I've been told, only intend to take three linebackers in this 2014 class, and McMillan and Booker, along with Kyle Berger all fit the spots. Better safe than sorry for the Buckeyes?


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ATXbucknut's picture

Intriguing stuff. Thank you for posting!

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thanks for reading.

FitzBuck's picture

You're welcome?
how do you know when you belong to a great site.
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3.) they thank you for reading the free content that you enjoyed.
....and THANK YOU

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

TheBadOwl's picture

Assuming the staff takes Roberts as a tight end(keeping Hubbard on defense), do you think we say yes to Booker and Winovich, with Berger and Hubbard already in the fold and McMillan looking pretty solid?

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.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think even if Hubbard stays on defense that he's a DE - not a linebacker - so I am not sure it impacts Booker or Winovich - if the staff is willing to accept a commitment from Winovich now (which I've heard they are) then they would probably be happy to accept Berger, Winovich, Booker and McMillan. 

The hope then has to be that Raekwon isn't then feeling they are "too crowded" - even though he's the only Mike in the group.

luckynutz's picture

So what is you feeling as far as clifton garrett is concerned? He seems to be drinking the SEC kool aid here recently, after having OSU seemingly be in the drivers seat for a while. Is the winovich offer in response to garretts interest in OSU diminishing?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think Garrett is going to be a great fit where ever he ends up, but there's some reason to believe that he's allowed people to get in his ear about the "depth" of Ohio State's linebacker core. Also, some guys want to be the big fish, and with a talent like Clifton, it's not always easy to sell him on the idea of being part of an ensemble.

GV9's picture

I for one will be very happy if we land Chase Winovich.  I don't view him as a consolation prize at all.
One play from his tape plays over and over in my mind where he blitzes to the QB but there's a quick out to what looks like a very fast wide receiver who then races down the sideline in full break with C.W. in pursuit.  He chases that guy for literally 50 yards until finally making  a shoestring, touchdown saving, tackle from behind, . Amazing highlight!
His instincts, speed, and competitive drive appear second to none.  Size could turn out pretty well too once he fills out his rangy frame.  
I'm hoping to see a commit from him and Jamarco Jones SOON.    Oh, and Kief or Kitt too!  

BuckinBama's picture

After watching his tape, I too like Chase W a bunch, and I watched that chase down play over and over, and over again. I love that never quit mentality.

m5987usus's picture

Great article.  Do you think that Booker is a buckeye? What about roberts?  Nelson?


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

If I had to base a "guess" off of where those three stand today?


Yes. No. Yes.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

You really think the Buckeyes are going to offer Barker?  I just don't see it happening.
1.)  Who's the other QB offer and was it a QB or ATH offer?
2.)  Do you actually see Barker getting an offer anytime soon or do they continue to slow play him?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Jerrod Heard and DeShaun Watson are the only QBs that have actually received offers.

I have LONG been a fan of Barker and think that he's the type of player and person I'd be comfortable building a team around, whether or not he's what Urban is looking for exactly, that's obviously still up in the air. I imagine that the Buckeyes will not make any decisions about their QB position based on pending commitments from players who WOULD commit if they had an offer.

Basically, if Barker wants to commit elsewhere, that is on him - but the Buckeyes will offer him if and when they are ready, not on his timetable. They'll hope that the draw of playing for Ohio State - whenever that chance comes - would be enough to change his mind.

m5987usus's picture

Are there any big 2015 recruits we can say are all buckeyes or are looking good for the bucks?


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

The state of Ohio will be very good to the Buckeyes in 2015.

m5987usus's picture

What about mcmillan?


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

If the recruiting cycle ended today, the odds would be good that Raekwon is a Buckeye.

Long way to go, though.

tdible2132's picture

Has there been anything going on with Malik McDowell lately? Is he planning on visiting OSU at any point or are we basically out of the picture?  Word is he's a heavy Michigan lean but I sure hope that's not the case and that the door is still open with him.  Seems he plays the recruiting process very close to the vest.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

He's quiet - doesn't say much and handles his recruitment very privately. Michigan is obviously a major contender, but sometimes I wonder about why - if a player of his caliber knows he wants to go to the homestate school - why not just commit? Maybe he goes all Nick Perry and ends up heading somewhere warmer.

GV9's picture

I thought Notre Dame was a big possibility too.  

tdible2132's picture

Also, Jamarco Jones still leaning Buckeye from what you've heard?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Everything I've heard about Jones is that it's likely an Ohio State vs Michigan battle with the Buckeyes slightly out in front.

tdible2132's picture

That would sure suck to lose him to Michigan.  Considering how many OL they've taken recently and the need we have at the position, it seems like a no brainer that he'd want to go to OSU over Michigan.  I hate to say it, but Michigan is KILLING it on the recruiting trail right now. They could potentially land every single one of McDowell, Hand, Peppers, Artavis Scott to go along with this torrid start they've got going.  What do you think is the main factor in all this success Michigan is having with recruiting?  Considering they went 8-5 last year and we went undefeated, it just seems hard to believe that they are in this position rather than us (Although we are still in a good position as well, they seem to have the upper hand at this point).

buckeyechad's picture

I'd have to say, seeing as basically all those big name guys are defensive, it's because they want a chance to play for Mattison. At this point with how quickly he improved their defense, to all the big name defensive players they are getting/might get, the Mattison hire was just as important as Hoke for Michigan.

otrain2416's picture

assuming we take 20 guys what do u think the positional breakdown would be?

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

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

1 QB (Watson)

1 TE (Hubbard)

4 WR (Campbell, Lattimore, Kief and Kitt)

5 OL (Trout, Jones, Jones, Nelson and ?)

3 DL (Thompson, ?, and ?)

4 LB (Berger, Booker, McMillan and Winovich)

3 DB (Webb, ? and ?)

Maybe a punter if they can squeeze in 21 players?


That's a guess - one thing with this staff: the offers will not stop coming in until the class is full or signing day passes.

otrain2416's picture

awesome thank you!

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

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

You've got Watson listed as the QB, but in another question you said you don't see him flipping. Realistically what QB do you think we end up with?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I have him listed the guy they know they want. There's still a chance that no Watson = no QB, but I am a believer that you should take a QB every year.

Watson or Heard fit the system well, but if neither of those two are on board, I've been on record saying Barker is my guy for the last year, and that's what I still believe.

weimerad's picture

Jeremy if there is the possibility that McMillan may feel it could be "too crowded" by the time he makes his decision, why would the staff accept a commitment from Winovich before McMillan. They can't possibly lose out on McMillan by letting that happen

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think they trust their relationship with Raekwon enough to keep him happy knowing that he plays a totally different LB spot than any of the other players they're recruiting.

johnblairgobucks's picture

my only questioning thought on Raekwon isn't about his interest in the Buckeyes , it's about what may happen if Curtis Grant plays to his High School ranking .... a high level, this fall.  If Grant takes ownership of the middle, and plays at an All-Big 10 level (totally hypothetical), will Raekwon want to come to OSU an possibly sit 2 years behind Grant?  If Raekwon is enrolling early, I assume he has desire and plans to come in and play relatively early.

buckeyechad's picture

I really hope that is an issue.

avail31678's picture

Yes, that'd be a great problem to have. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

It would be one year since Grant's a junior this fall, and I have the inclination that IF Curtis plays well and the Buckeyes meet expectations as a team, that Curtis could very well bolt for greener pastures.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Where does Trey Johnson come into play? Isn't he a MLB?

Crimson's picture

No.  WLB I believe.  Only the scouting services said MLB; staff has always said otherwise.

weimerad's picture

I'm sorry but I have to respectfully disagree with you there.  There is no way that Grant will leave after only one year of true productivity.  He'll stay for his senior year

tussey's picture

Great stuff Jeremy.  My question would be based off the trend of the recruiting process starting much earlier and players giving their verbals much much earlier, do you think we will ever see an earlier signing period? Say the end of the summer heading into their senior years?

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Jeremy... How confident are you that we can flip Watson?  Percentage? 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I do not think that Watson will change his mind, so I guess my confidence level is zero.

Clemson is where he's been committed a while now, he had no real "reason" to commit so early. Boyd is gone after this year and they're a program that plays good football in a beautiful part of the country and has less "pressure." He's in good shape there. Unless Swinney and Chad Morris were unceremoniously discarded I don't see anything changing with Watson if it has not already.

UncleBuck's picture

What if Morris took a head coaching job?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

From all accounts that would change things significantly.

avail31678's picture

Jeremy - great read.  And I am wow-ed by how many comments/questions your responded to.  Above and beyond, in my opinion.  THANK YOU.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thank you very much, I appreciate you reading the site.

740 BUCKEYE's picture

Jeremy sir, your stock is rising. Great job.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Mighty kind of you, thanks for the nice words!

Dublin68's picture

Thank you Jeremy, great write up

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thanks for reading it, glad to have you on board.

ATT2121's picture

Very informative and greatly appreciated. Thanks!


"It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it's close."
Jesse Owens