Football Recruiting: Mailbag

By Jeremy Birmingham on December 3, 2013 at 7:30p

We're deep into the "stretch run" of Ohio State's 2014 recruiting class, and within the next two weeks we could see as many as three of Ohio State's (assumed) final six spots filled as key targets Chad Mavety, Johnnie Dixon and Raekwon McMillan are set to announce their college choices. Ohio State finds themselves in the final three for McMillan and Dixon, and the final two for Mavety, the Nassau Community College star.

Tonight's mailbag will of course take a best guess at how the Buckeyes' 2014 class will finish out as well as questions about new 2015 commit Jamel Dean and who could join him in his class. Overall, I'll try and attack as many of your questions as I absolutely can. So, you know, enjoy it or something.

On with the show my friends.

2015 - Baker, Hilliard, and Crawford - can we land all three? Also chances with JD Crabtree from Massillon if he gets an offer? - Odeez330

Absolutely the Buckeyes can land all three, but they could just as easily land none of the above (the main three.) Jerome Baker is the closest to a "sure thing," but even he's still got questions about his recruitment, namely what position he'll play and he has questions about the numbers of linebackers Ohio State is taking in 2014 and beyond. Justin Hilliard's recruitment has been uphill from the start, but the Buckeyes have made up a ton of ground, almost to the point where I'd call them the favorite at this point. Ohio State's competition for Hilliard is wide and varied, Michigan, Iowa and Notre Dame as well as — of course — Alabama and LSU will be a factor in things before it's over for him. He's not a native Ohioan, so there's a bit more of a struggle there than they would "normally" have. Shaun Crawford, who has been a Michigan commitment for a few months and picked up a Buckeye offer two weeks ago, states publicly that he's a "100-percent committed" to Michigan, and you should not expect him to ever say anything else. If he visits Ohio State, ever, then things change in a big way. If the visits, it's pretty commonly thought that he'll flip to Ohio State.

If J.D. Crabtree were to camp or play himself in a Buckeye offer, he'd commit before the coach offering could finish the sentence.

What is the upshot of the Glenville Three's visit to Alabama? - Sharks

I know there have been a few surprises in the past few years regarding Glenville guys (Cardale Scott, Aundrey Walker) who have spurned the Buckeyes for what they perceived as greener pastures, and while it's reasonable to worry about such madness with Lattimore, Smith and Jones, I truly don't think the three are going anywhere other than Ohio State. Yes, they speak glassy-eyed and emotionless, yes they talk about all schools being even and yes they don't outwardly express affection towards Ohio State. In some cases it honestly feels like they genuinely despise people who assume they'll be all be Buckeyes, and honestly I'd probably be pretty ticked off too if people kept putting words in my mouth and assuming they know my thoughts better than I do. Bottom line, it'd be a surprise if they ended up anywhere but Columbus, but people really should try and stop stealing a kids thunder, and more so, stop assuming they're incapable of thinking or making decisions for themselves. If they want to go somewhere other than Ohio State, they've got plenty of options. 

Would a national championship bring on any unexpected recruits for the 2014 class or do you see it having more effect on 2015? - Killer Nuts

Mail upon mail

Definitely could have a bigger impact on 2015 because the majority of 2014's remaining targets have been identified and recruited for months, those relationships are already existing. Could a player like Quin Blanding take a renewed look at Ohio State if they win the national title, have a serious need a defensive back and Virginia were to fire Mike London? Sure, but that's not going to happen. The real benefit is from the 2015 and 2016 crop, especially nationally, who have seen a Buckeye football program that hasn't lost a game in two years.

Johnnie Dixon seems pretty close with some of the current Buckeye players; does your gut still say that he's a Buckeye? - BuckeyeGuy0615

Johnnie Dixon is a really, really talented player and a really good kid. Friendly, personable and loyal to his friends and family. Johnnie has developed some pretty good relationships with Buckeye players, notably Michael Thomas, but I don't know if that's enough to draw him to Columbus when he decides this Sunday (the 8th). Ohio State has had him as their top wide receiver target for a long time, and he proved them right in June when he dominated camp at Ohio State. They are head-to-head with the hometown favorite Hurricanes and the machine that is Alabama. No one, and I mean no one, believes Johnnie Dixon will choose Ohio State on Sunday.

But I do. I'll ride this one out and take the hit if I am wrong, but my best sources on Dixon think Ohio State's chances have been widely understated, and I will ride it out with them. If Dixon says no, the Buckeyes will look elsewhere for another wide receiver, and at that point I think North Carolina's Trevion Thompson becomes a favorite in the clubhouse.

What's Plan B if Raekwon McMillan decides to go elsewhere? - 1MECHENG

This is the plan-B that no Buckeye fans really want to consider, but it's important to prepare for the possibility that McMillan, every Buckeye fans' choice for the most important recruit left on the board, could end up committing to Clemson or Alabama on December 16th. There are plenty of reasons for McMillan to choose the Buckeyes, and there are plenty of reasons for him to choose Clemson or Alabama, but ultimately, right now, I think it's an Ohio State and Alabama battle. I know the consensus nationally is Clemson, Clemson, Clemson, but this has all the makings of a class Urban Meyer vs Nick Saban battle and even though I will not change my pick to Alabama, it's my belief that if he chose today, Raekwon would end up in Alabama a la Da'Shawn Hand.

If that happens, I think that Cincinnati Colerain linebacker Tegray Scales could be the next guy the Buckeyes have a serious chance at, although I'd not be surprised if they made a run at Nyles Morgan from Crete-Monee, Illinois, as well. They've always held him in high regard, but it would be a serious long-shot at this point in the game. Scales is a bit undervalued in my opinion, he's an excellent linebacker from an excellent program in one of the country's most challenging football conferences, yesterday he was named co-defensive player of the year in the state of Ohio. 

General thoughts on Jamel Dean? - TheBadOwl

Dean told me last Friday, the eve of Ohio State's game with Indiana, that he wanted to make his announcement at the end of the month, following "The Game," versus Michigan. He's a very cerebral, steady kid who plays big-time football in a very difficult area in Florida. He's blazing fast, running a 10.58 in the 100-meter dash as a sophomore and he's got ideal size (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) for a cornerback in Ohio State's defense. Being committed this early means that he likely won't get much "run" in the recruiting databases and camp scenes, but if Dean wants to get more "love," he'll go out and participate just for the thrill of competing. Overall, the Buckeyes got a really good player early in the process, but his offers and interest from other schools might not reflect it because he knew where he wanted to go and didn't invite other contact.

Hjalte Froholdt to Arkansas. Huh? - JedKat

This was definitely a surprise, but not because Hjalte Froholdt didn't choose Ohio State, of course. The Denmark native recently made a trip — from Denmark   to visit one school in the United States that he had visited over the summer, and that was the University of Michigan, so him choosing the Hogs over the Wolverines caught everyone by surprise. He's a top 100 player in the 2015 class and despite the fact that he won't be back in the US until who knows when, you lose nothing if you're a big time program by recruiting and accepting his commitment now. Arkansas could potentially have another long year ahead of them, so this commitment will be tested by many factors, especially if Bret Bielema's rope isn't as long as you'd think after a winless SEC campaign.

Everybody seems to think Solomon Thomas is a Stanford lock.  Do you think the Buckeyes still have a chance? - Ahh Saturday

I don't have Solomon Thomas as a Buckeye in my "crystal ball," because I don't have hard evidence to support that idea, but my brain says a player of his caliber doesn't spend his money — twice — to come to Ohio State and then plan an official visit to the school after the season (which hasn't been officially scheduled yet per my knowledge,) unless he's legitimately interested in the school. I know that Stanford is a school he's very high on, and Texas may have saved themselves with Thomas thanks to their resurgence this season, but the Buckeyes absolutely have a chance. Thomas doesn't talk much, so what he does is very important, and what he's done is make two trips to Ohio State on his own dime. 

Who is the next 2015 commit? And when? - PCuzz1

Right now, I'm still going to pick Jerome Baker, the state's best player in 2015 (in my opinion) and the star running back and linebacker for the Bengals of Benedictine in Cleveland. Baker has been to Ohio State multiple times, isn't really in love with the recruiting process and up to this point hasn't made a visit to any school that Ohio State should worry too much about. That being said, Baker does still have interest in visiting other schools, but the Buckeyes are in great shape. I'd not be surprised if this one happened in early-to-mid January.

Alright, if your life depended on answering this question, and answering it 100% correctly to the very best of your ability, how do you see this class finishing up, who's in, who's out, any surprises etc.? - TennBuckeye19

Right now, here's how I see the Buckeyes' 2014 class finishing, as long as you all know that what I am going to predict here is based on what I feel today, and that it's possible for things to change.

DB - Marshon Lattimore
DB - Erick Smith
WR - Johnnie Dixon
LB - Raekwon McMillan 
DL - Solomon Thomas
OL - Brady Taylor

My head says Chad Mavety picks Ohio State, my heart says he selects Florida State. It's reversed with McMillan, my head says he picks Alabama, but my heart says it's the Buckeyes. Brady Taylor is my favorite offensive lineman in the state (although he's committed to Virginia Tech, I think he'd accept a Buckeye offer if it comes his way,) that is not a Buckeye commitment, and that's where I'd like the Buckeyes to turn in the event Mavety chooses the Seminoles.


Comments Show All Comments

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Great work, Birm. Thanks again for putting in the time and providing such excellent content.

Tdizzle's picture

I'm getting worried he thanks Kwon could go to bama!!

FitzBuck's picture

If it happens I hope we as a fan base handle it better than UM and hand

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

jamesrbrown322's picture

Everything I am hearing and reading has McMillan going to Bama and Dixon going to Miami. I am just hoping that the Buckeyes at least land the Glenville kids and Mavety. Otherwise, it will be quite a disappointing close to the class.
Honestly, with all of the BigTen and Ohio State backlash, I can't blame a kid for going and playing for Nick Satan and Alabama, since they will always be ranked in the top 3-5, and have the advantage of not needing to go undefeated (in most years) to play for a title. Also, he may relish the challenge of figthing for a starting position at Alabama.
Don't get me wrong, McMillan fills a desperate need, and OSU was a big leader early, but I fear they have blown this one and will lose another big time target at LB. I am not sure exactly what happened, other than McMillan being fed the "OSU is overrated and plays in the WAC" all season.
That being said, I am hoping for a pleasant surprise when McMillan announces. Also, Dante Booker is supposed to be a stud, so while McMillan is supposed to be a can't miss type LB, don't forget that Dorian Bell and Curtis Grant were supposed to be program-changing, big impact LBs as well. I still like this recruiting class, but nabbing McMillan really could have made some waves, particularly beating Alabama head to head for a prospect. However, it seems that right now, unfortunately, Alabama gets whoever they want.
Fingers crossed that I am wrong!

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

GV9's picture

They didn't get Vonn Bell.  

jamesrbrown322's picture

Tennessee was really the main competition for OSU. But I do acknowledge that Bama was interested, offered, and would have liked to have him.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

iamcbs's picture

I agree JB322, I think the Kwon ship has sailed. I don't believe it was anything that tOSU did wrong, I just think distance and negativity are huge factors. I don't follow Recruiting anymore, since the whole Stefan Diggs debacle. I refuse to worry about the vagaries of the decisions of 17 and 18-year olds. However, I concur and your conflation of Kwon to C. Grant and Dorian Bell are spot on. I hope Kwon has a great career wherever he decides to go to school.
I also hope the tOSU Fans show more dignity and class than the TTUN Fans showed with Hand and his decision. I'm positive that we will, in that event. 

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep, I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion~Alexander the Great

Ahh Saturday's picture

I'd be very happy with that class. Add Mavety, and I'd be happier still.

WashingtonStateBuck's picture

Outstanding update, Birm! It looks like the next few weeks will not only be fun on the field but off the field as well with all of the upcoming recruiting decisions by players. 

popeurban's picture

Solid class if that is how it ends-up.  The best is yet to come!

d1145fresh's picture

Birm-- one more question if you can. Does Urban still have his in home visit with Raekwon and if so should we expect that the weekend after the B1G game?  Thanks for the update. 

Alpo's picture

Oh Birm, you're simply the best. Nuff said.

osubuck57's picture

Great mailbag as always Birm!!


WezBuck28's picture

I wonder if all this saban to Texas talk has any affect on kwon's situation?

bergy22's picture

I wouldn't think distance is that big of a factor if he is thinking Bama. Hinesville is 7 hours to Tuscaloosa, while its better than 11 to Columbus, its still quite a drive.

skid21's picture

Scales instead of McMillian would be a hard pill to swallow. Not to criticize a HS kid but I've seen Scales play a couple of times and he just isn't near the same level, although few are. I guess we take what we can get but I'd be underwhelmed.

ODEEZ330's picture

Thanks for answering my question birm. Id like to land all 4 guys i asked about

stark county football

jbirmmd's picture

I know recruiting is more complicated than this, but with our openings at O-line and LB, it is hard to believe we can't get whoever we want to fill those spots. 

tennbuckeye19's picture

 I'm looking forward to seeing how the 2014 class wraps up and seeing the 2015 class take form. We're lucky to have you Birm to take along with us for the ride.

rolltribe2015's picture

The BakeShow, The Greatest Show on Turf!!

1MechEng's picture

Jeremy -
I'd also like to thank you for answering my question in the mailbag!
And ... if Meechy, DWebb, and the rest of the Dream14 are lurking ... keep working young men! Make it your mission to convince Raekwon that his best choice is OSU! 

Seattle Linga's picture

Funny how the last few pieces are the STUDS that we need to tip the scales.

TMac's picture

Thanks Birm! The 11W staff has made recruiting fun to follow!

ONE Not Done!

LexingtonBuckeye's picture

For some reason, some of my UK friends keep trying to bet me $ that Marcelys Jones will decommit and end up at UK. Is there anything behind this other than delusional wildcats with nothing better to do? I'm on here regularly and haven't ever seen this possibility even mentioned. Thanks for any info or opinions.

gobucks96's picture

Do you know if the staff is planning/hoping on Mavety as a guard or the other tackle?

gambinr's picture

Can anone tell me what freshmen are/were red shirted? About a year ago we were all reading about Vonn Bell,Trey Johnson, Mike Mitchell, Gareon Conleyand Eli Apple. Now they are never mentioned!

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Mitchell, Conley and Apple all redshirted.

gambinr's picture

Thans, I kinda figured.

BoBo16's picture

Bell plays special teams and occasionally plays defense. I havent seen much of trey. But i know the other three are redshirted

Eat, Sleep, and Breathe Buckeyes

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Bell has turned into one of the best players on our special teams. Seems to be around the ball on almost every kickoff. Kid has a bright future roaming the secondary for the Silver Bullets.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

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

yankeescum's picture

Can you play in a bowl and still redshirt?

Eph97's picture

Lots of chatter right now about Saban to Texas. If so I hope sooner rather than later as it would clinch Raekwon to the good guys.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Texas has to fire Mack Brown first.  I want to see Saban go to Texas just as much as anyone else, but I want it because I will enjoy the Bama/SEC meltdown that will occur. 

2002osubuck's picture

I think back to a statement last year, when Kwon said he didn't want to play at the same school as Rueben Foster, because he sat behind him in HS, and Foster's at bama. I think it's obvious that we need LBs and he can compete for a starting spot if he earns it. I always look back to those first statements players make in the recruiting process. They tend to get better at the recruiting game as time goes on and become more vague, but a lot of times in those first few interviews small things are said and like Bell last year, I think Kwon picks us in the end.

jamesrbrown322's picture

I certainly hope you're right. I have been disappointed this year that no out of state kids really want to come play LB here. Which is surprising, given OSU's NFL pedigree at the position, as well as the opportunity to play early.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Eph97's picture

I think they are not impressed with the position coach. Doesn't Fickell coach linebackers? Hiring Ron Vanderlinden to replace Fickell would be a HUGE upgrade. Look at the linebackers Vanderlinden has put into the league from PSU; it's impressive.