11W Recruiting Roundup: What To Look For At Friday Night Lights

By Jeremy Birmingham on July 24, 2013 at 4:00p
Friday night just got a lot more interesting.

This Friday, the Buckeyes will host their second annual "Friday Night Lights" camp in the Horseshoe in front of a throng of adoring fans, thirsty for any bit of real-life football action that they can find. With this year's slate against Michigan taking place in Ann Arbor and the Ohio State spring game taking place in Cincinnati, Friday's camp becomes one of the year's biggest recruiting showcases for Urban Meyer and his coaching staff; with only the Saturday night showdowns against Wisconsin and Penn State looming larger.

Over the last few weeks, we've kept you apprised of everyone who is anyone with a plan to attend, and that list has seen a bit of a change the last few days, including the disappointing news that two of the country's top 2015 defensive lineman, Florida's CeCe Jefferson and Minnesota's Jashon Cornell, would not be attending, eschewing the Buckeye visit for Florida and Iowa visits, respectively.

What should fans expect from this year's version of Friday Night Lights? Let's take a look.

As one should expect of any Urban Meyer-led Buckeye event, passionate competition is the hallmark of this year's event. Meyer and his staff thrive on seeing players and coaches pushed to the limits and Friday Night Lights is no exception. It may be the final camp of the year for most attendees, but this is no vacation day for players hoping to earn their stripes in Ohio Stadium. It's an opportunity for players from the classes of 2015 and 2016 to make their first impression with Meyer and a chance for would-be high school seniors to make a final presentation for the Ohio State staff as they head into "real" fall camp with this year's Buckeye squad.

A major contingent in attendance this weekend will be the Buckeye's current commitments. The "Dream 2014" group continues to solidify their friendships through various social media implementations and this Friday night will give them a chance to spend some face-to-face time with other key Buckeye targets. Damon Webb, Marcelys Jones, Jamarco Jones, Sam Hubbard, Lonnie Johnson, Kyle Trout, Terry McLaurin, Kyle Berger, Dylan Thompson, Dante Booker Jr., Parris Campbell and Sean Nuernberger are all scheduled to be on hand as the Buckeyes' staff turns to their future leaders to help lure in the likes of five-star talents like Georgia's Raekwon McMillan, New Yorker Curtis Samuel and Cleveland Glenville star Marshon Lattimore.

It is McMillan's visit that looms largest for the Buckeyes as we've talked about previously. Attending the event with his entire family present, McMillan will get a shot to show the people closest to him why he regards Ohio State so highly, and the Buckeyes will get their first shot at "selling" the university and all its charms to his family. Ohio State still leads for McMillan, the five-star inside linebacker widely considered as the nation's best, and this trip is the best chance to seal the deal.

While the exact number of prospects in attendance won't be known until post-event, the wide receiver group is one area that will garner special attention from Buckeye coaches and fans alike with Samuel — one of the stars of Nike's recent The Opening — as a primary focus. Already with a Buckeye offer, the 6-foot, 185-pound speedster's recruitment has been personally handled by Meyer, a surefire sign that his pledge is one most coveted by the Buckeyes. Another key visitor at wideout, Durham (N.C.) Hillside High School's Trevion Thompson, is coming north with his mother, and mom's usually don't make 1000-mile trips without a serious reason for doing so. Thompson has consistently had the Buckeyes in his top group of schools, even mentioning them previously in his top two with Clemson. The Tigers have received commitments from Florida's Artavis Scott and Georgia's Demarre Kitt, so the Buckeyes could make a serious push if Thompson, a high school teammate of Buckeye defensive end/linebacker Jamal Marcus, is able to make the trip. 

One player that has not been talked about for a while in connection with the Buckeyes is Raleigh (N.C.) native Braxton Berrios. Berrios, from Leesville Road High School, was exceptional at Nike's camp and told Eleven Warriors yesterday that he was making the trip to Columbus for Friday Night Lights for the second straight year. Berrios impresses everywhere he goes and he's hoping to make the most of his final appearance in front of Ohio State coaches. With offers from Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Miami (Fla.), Kentucky and others, Berrios is an interesting prospect and an impressive performance in the Horseshoe for the second time could be enough to get him an offer. Why make a second trip? For Berrios, the question is more accurately "why not?"

"I made the decision to come back last week," Berrios said. "I've been getting a good vibe from the Buckeye coaches so I figured why not? Last year was electric to be honest. Definitely a first to see that many fans just at a camp. We'll see if the offer comes."

Berrios Is Hoping To ImpressBerrios will attend Friday Night Lights for the second time.

Looking ahead to the class of 2015, a player sure to stand out is Canton McKinley's Eric Glover-Williams, an explosive playmaker who is very high on the Buckeyes and vice versa. Williams is a certified speed-merchant and he will draw plenty of "oohs" and "ahhs" from the faithful in attendance. Other key targets from the class of 2015 include Huber Heights defensive back Tyree Kinnel, who is looking to earn a Buckeye offer, an offer that would certainly catapult the Buckeyes towards the top of his short list. Running back Andrew and wide receiver David Dowell, rising twins that were featured on Eleven Warriors from Lakewood St. Edward's High School, are fresh off a busy summer that saw them gain their first offers. Could Ohio State take the plunge on the tandem? 

Detroit Cass Tech has been good to the Buckeyes in 2014; but can Damon Webb help the Buckeyes secure top talent from the traditional Maize and Blue feeder program in 2015? If the Buckeyes are going to make a dent for top talent like running back Mike Weber and defensive lineman Josh Alabi then Friday Night Lights is the time and place to do it. Webb has been working hard to get the duo, along with quarterback Jayru Campbell to make the three-hour drive with him, although it seems unlikely that Campbell will attend. Weber and Alabi have offers in tow from the Buckeyes already.

A couple under-the-rader 2015 prospects that could draw your attention include North Carolina's Reggie Gallaspy, a bruising tailback originally from the Flint (Mich.) area and Lawrenceville High School (Lawrenceville, Ga.) athlete Adonis Thomas. Gallaspy caught the eye of Ohio State's Stan Drayton after a solid performance at Ohio State's late June camp and was personally asked to return for FNL by Drayton that afternoon. Thomas, 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, reportedly runs a 4.4-forty and could play wide receiver or linebacker and is just starting to see his recruiting take off according to coach Todd Wofford, who also coached Buckeye freshman linebacker Trey Johnson. Thomas has picked up offers in recent weeks from Tennessee an South Carolina. 

The event starts Friday night at 6 p.m., but expect the action to kick into high gear around 7 p.m. Eleven Warriors will have comprehensive coverage from the free to the public event all weekend long. There are literally hundreds of highly-touted prospects that could show up, and we'll do our best to keep you updated on each and every one.


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AGL's picture

Nice read,  thanks


DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Jeremy, do you see us getting any commitments  this weekend?

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Not likely, but Samuel is there for business purposes. It's an important trip for him and the Buckeyes.

Alpo's picture

Is Samuel going to compete or is the visit just to see the school and program? Already having the offer he doesn't really need to.

3technique's picture

Great info.. Ready to put last weekend behind us...

Hovenaut's picture

After the events of this past weekend, FNL couldn't come at a better time.

I look forward to the coverage, thanks in advance 11W staff.

3GB's picture

Any chance that Berrios gets offered in the near future or at all? 
He just reminds me of one of receivers who could be an extremely solid player, with the type of production where oppenents will say "I swear that guy has been at Ohio State for like 7 years!  When will he finally be gone?!"

BKLYN_Buckeye's picture

Should we be reading more into the Cornell cancelation or is it just bad timing?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Transportation issues, nothing more.

Buckabroad's picture

Thanks, as always, for a great update.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

JasonR's picture

I took my 3 year old daughter last year, and we'll be there again for our second annual daddy-daughter FNL date.
One question though...is there a way to figure out who is who, other than knowing what they look like? I know they all wear numbers and it's probably unlikely that fans can get a copy of the roster. But it was difficult to figure out who's who last year so I'm hoping for some help.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Best bet? Sit next to someone informed. They definitely don't make it easy to pinpoint who guys are.

zjhousley's picture

Anyone know how much it cost to get into this event?? Thinking about coming up...

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Just gas money...

tennbuckeye19's picture

Jeremy - Will you be attending and posting updates/photos?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Jordan, Mike and myself will all be there. There is no media allowed on the field, so we'll be in the stands like everyone else.

Bucks's picture

Did you hear that everyone! Jeremy just volunteered the 11W crew to be surrounded by people in the stands and answer every "who is ____" as it is shouted out! That's what I read anyways.

Jordan Wagner's picture

Would anyone be interested in a 11W Fan Guide for Friday Night Lights? Obviously I have no clue what numbers they will be wearing, but I can sort our visitor list by position and attach some information such as picture, HS, offers, height, weight, etc. Everyone prospect in attendance won't be included, but at least you'll know some of the players and we (and others) can help you in person as well. 

I'm all for helping out our premium members. 

Bucks's picture

I was completely kidding. No need to add even more work to what you all put in already!
If you do though, send it through the Buckeye Leaf tab for premium.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think this is a splendid idea. Make it a Google Drive document and then spread the love.

Bucks's picture

I will be attending for sure. Hoping this event is just ridiculously packed.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

I agree! I can only imagine what kind of impact it would make on a potential recruit to camp in front of 100K Buckeye fans. Gonna do my best to make the trek to the 'Shoe!!

Bucks's picture

Hope you make it!

route4buckeye's picture

Great write up Jeremy. Really enjoyed it.

Savage45's picture

I'm going again, there were maybe 1000 fans there last year, but it rained so I think more will attend this time.
It really is kind of fun if you love Ohio Stadium as much as I do. They play some music  (mostly hip-hop) and though there is no scrimmage you do get to see some footballs flying through the air!

GH_Lindsey's picture

It seems like we've been the leader for McMillian forever, when do we expect him to commit (barring anything unforeseen)? Could we officially pick him up this weekend?

Savage45's picture

Don't know when he'll commit, but I think he plans on announcing at the UA game in January so hopefully he'll be icing on the BCS Championship cake! 

pjtobin's picture

So what all goes on at this event? Is it like the Nike elite that we just seen? I would love to take the family. Which seats might be the best?

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Savage45's picture

I don't remember any full scrimmages or teams put together, but the qb's throw to receivers while db's try to cover, and the o-line goes against the d-line for a while.
Last year the throwing was on the south half of the field, and the big uglies were in the north, I prefer to watch qb's more so than lineman so I'd sit there, but you can move around to a new seat every minute if you want.

brobbins's picture

I feel like OSU is losing battles for Offensive line man... Jermaine eleumenor leaning to ARK, Mavety has interest in FSU, Knox has interest in TCU and UCLA. Someone help my nerves here


ATXbucknut's picture

Agreed. I would like to hear more positive news about '14 and '15 OL prospects!