Football Recruiting: Crunch Time News and Notes

By Jeremy Birmingham on December 10, 2013 at 7:30p

It's going to be a busy week on the recruiting trail for the Ohio State coaching staff as they try and make up time lost last week when they were preparing for the Big Ten championship game rather than trying to reel in the final pieces of the 2014 recruiting class.

Here's this story: they don't relate to recruiting. One loss in two years won't change the relationships kids have with each other and with the Ohio State coaching staff. Yes, losing a shot a national championship hurts, but it hurts more with perception down the road (2015 and 2016) than it will the final parts of 2014. Before we dive too deep into the murky underbelly of recruiting, I wanted to make a few quick comments about the loss to Michigan State and the possibility of Ohio State assistants being offered, and taking, head coaching jobs elsewhere and how those two items relate to recruiting.

As far as coaching changes go, there's always going to be some impact — most players are not directly recruited by Urban Meyer — but any potential changes (Fickell, Withers, Drayton, etc.) are not going to upset anything the Buckeyes already have in the fold. Drayton's departure has been speculated on (he's been named as a coaching target at both Florida Atlantic and Bowling Green) could have impact beyond 2014, however.

Bottom line? Enjoy the ride, Buckeye fans. You're in the midst of one of the program's most successful eras ever, and you've got a head coach with lofty, lofty goals and the determination to make sure Ohio State doesn't slip into mediocrity, ever. 

Of course, the week didn't exactly start off with a bang for the Buckeyes on the recruiting front. Nassau Community College offensive tackle Chad Mavety surprised many when he picked Florida State instead of Ohio State, leaving Urban Meyer and Ed Warinner still searching for at least one more offensive lineman in the 2014 class. Mavety chose the Seminoles despite the Buckeyes' need along an offensive front that will see four new starters in 2014. Where do the Buckeyes go next?

Let's take a look at where things stand.


If you think Ohio State lacks a backup plan, let me assure you first and foremost that nothing could be further from the truth. Ohio State believed for some time they'd land Mavety, but with his announcement, they will move on to the next options. 

A little over a month ago the Buckeyes offered Chanhassen,Minnesota's Frank Ragnow, who had serious interest in the Buckeyes over the summer but trailed off when they didn't offer. When they did, Ragnow seemed as if he'd quickly make a visit to Columbus, but it never materialized. Now, the homestate Gophers and yes, Florida State (where Ragnow visits this weekend) seem to be making the most headway for the 6-foot-6, 290 pounder. Unless he makes a visit to Columbus, it's unlikely Ragnow becomes the guy.

One player that Ohio State has always had major interest in, Pittsburgh two-way lineman Alex Bookser, will make his official visit to Ohio State this weekend. Bookser, as is the case with most western Pennsylvania kids, is likely to stay at home in Pittsburgh, but the Buckeyes will get their shot this weekend and will do so with a number of committed prospects, including Jamarco Jones, Sean Neurnberger, Stephen Collier, Dame Webb, Terry Mclaurin and Dylan Thompson — heck, most of their 2014 class — on hand. They'll give Bookser the best look he can get at what the Buckeyes have to offer this weekend. Buckeyes trail Pitt, but definitely keep an eye on what materializes after this weekend.

Bishop Ready offensive lineman Brady TaylorCould Brady Taylor get a Buckeye offer?

Last week I predicted that the Buckeyes would lose out on Mavety and that eventually they'd make a run at Bishop Ready offensive tackle Brady Taylor, who is currently committed to Virginia Tech. Taylor is a Columbus kid, and while he's saying all the right things about his commitment with the Hokies, a Buckeye offer would be almost impossible for him to walk away from were it to come. I still think Taylor is a real possibility, but if Bookser and Ragnow don't pan out, the Buckeyes could also take a closer look at Maryland's Brock Ruble, as well Missouri's Brian Wallace and Roderick Johnson. Ruble visited Ohio State over the summer and Johnson was in attendance for The Game in 2012 against Michigan.

Ohio State's Zach Smith did make a stop in Maryland this week to check on Damian Prince as well, but it appears, as we said on 11W a few months back, that ship has sailed.


As most of you know, Florida wide receiver Johnnie Dixon (Dwyer High School, Palm Beach Gardens) was scheduled to make his college choice this past Sunday evening, but decided to wait it out a bit longer, opting to focus solely on Dwyer's state title run in the Sunshine State.

11W found out Sunday that Ohio State was scheduled to visit Dixon and Dwyer on Wednesday afternoon (Urban Meyer and wide receiver coach Zach Smith will be visiting), and at the time it was an interesting "sign" that the Buckeyes felt pretty good about their chances with the nation's 16th-ranked wide receiver. Then the timeline for the announcement changed and with it came a sense of "Well, maybe something else has changed," but as of today, the Buckeyes still feel great about their chances with Dixon. Whether or not that holds remains to be seen, but Dixon, who made official visits to Ohio State, NC State, Arkansas, Alabama and Miami, will make a choice soon and hopes to enroll in January.


Our favorite recruiting story to follow that doesn't rhyme with Maekwon RcMillan, the status of the Tarblooder Trio — Buckeye commit Marcelys Jones and defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith — and the seemingly neverending drama surrounding their each and every move. Last week, Glenville took a beating in the state championship game, and then came the rumblings about official visits to here and there and everywhere, this a week after the group took an official to Alabama (and Nick Saban was in Glenville today, to see them again.)

The reports were that the group was going to head to Kentucky for official visits but interestingly only Jones made the trip to Lexington. Ohio State, who has accepted a midyear financial agreement from Jones, is required to accept him if he chooses to enroll with the Buckeyes in January, and that still appears to be the plan. This week, the trio will head to Atlanta for an official visit to Georgia Tech midweek, and then will be at Ohio State this weekend for their officials with the Buckeyes. The plan for Smith and Lattimore remains the same, to make their announcement at the US Army All-American game on January 4th.


The Raekwon McMillan saga is nearing its conclusion, the nation's top linebacker makes his announcement next Monday morning, and as his recruitment winds down, things with McMillan continue to fluctuate almost daily. Yesterday, the gang at chimed in, stating that all their sources in Georgia believe McMillan is heading to Ohio State. McMillan's "crystal ball" is still heavily slanted towards the Buckeyes, but my sources tell me that the Buckeyes — who continue to recruit McMillan as heavily as any player on their board — are currently trailing Alabama and Nick Saban, likening the recruitment to that of Da'Shawn Hand, who recently chose the Tide after long-favoring Michigan. Auburn, who will get their in-home with McMillan Sunday afternoon, and Clemson, who've already made their final pitch, seem to on the outside looking in at the moment.

If Smart were to end up outside of Alabama, it would be the final piece of the puzzle to ensure McMillan ends up in Columbus. Nick Saban will be making his in-home visit with McMillan on Thursday, amid rumors of Saban to perhaps leaving to Texas, it will be interesting to see how things are handled. Urban Meyer, the coach responsible for recruiting McMillan for the Buckeyes, will be at Ohio State a lot longer than Smart will be in Tuscaloosa according to common sense, but can the Buckeyes impress that upon him before Monday?Both schools have made it abundantly clear that McMillan is capable of playing early, and a player and person like McMillan isn't concerned with competition for a spot, he believes he'll beat out anyone he has to. Both schools are coached by legendary coaches, both schools are going to be consistently in the top ten of the national rankings, and both schools churn out NFL prospects with regularity. So what, right now, can the Tide offer that the Buckeyes can't? Defensive consistency, proximity to home and McMillan's relationship with Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

Ohio State had two coaches, Luke Fickell and Everett Withers, visiting McMillan today, and they'll have another chance this Sunday when Meyer — and potentially an entire coaching staff — make their in-home visit. The Buckeyes will stress the importance of their longstanding relationship with McMillan, the value of going to a school he's incredibly comfortable with and loves (in the event something happened that impacted his ability to play football,) and most importantly they'll have to lay out a plan for what changes they will make in their defensive approach to ensure that McMillan gets the coaching he knows he needs to get to the NFL.

Again, last week I said Chad Mavety would choose heart (Florida State) over head (Ohio State,) and I believe ultimately that McMillan will do the same thing, and that's why, despite all the reasons Bama could be favored, I'm sticking with McMillan to Ohio State. However, and this has nothing to do with my opinion on the matter, I will not be traveling to Georgia for the announcement as previously planned. Nothing relevant to his choice, I just won't be able to make it.


Comments Show All Comments

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Is Mavety the guy who said a deal breaker on where he would commit was that he had to be assured he would get number 55?

NoVA Buckeye's picture

On the money

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

GoBucksOSU's picture

Wasn't it just 2 weeks ago that Kwon was an OSU-Clemson battle?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Not by me, but a lot of people have thought it was Ohio State/Clemson for a while. Bama has just stayed idly by.

fanfarris's picture

Kwan will not be heading up north after our poor defensive effort in the Big Title game.Thats why Maverty chose Florida state.Kids are impressionable ,and when they see a team loose when everyone expected them to win,they start having second thoughts.


Jdadams01's picture

Hate to be that guy, but it's "lose". Saying "loose" in that spot drives me nuts.

Furious George 27's picture

I really do not think the poor defensive effort would from MSU would affect his decision. They have had poor defensive effort from the secondary the last 2 seasons. If he views himself as an impact player that can change the game he may be able to stand out more at OSU than Bama.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

GABuckeye's picture

So with that logic, he's heading to Florida State right?

Brutus' Left Nut's picture

OSU's LOOSE looks even worse when compared with Clemson and Bama's conference championship game performances. 
The biggest reason Kwon won't come to tOSU - he's competitive.  A true competitor lives for competing against their rivals.  Watching tOSU win The Game AGAIN hurts really bad. Bama and Clemson stumbling against their rivals AGAIN only reminds Kwon that we haven't had a balanced rivalry since the great Al Gore invented the Internet.

rosycheeks's picture

The mere thought that you were planning to go to Georgia for his announcement is amazing. This place is cool.

Ericgobucks's picture

I sure hope so. This could have the same deflating effect that Michigan had losing Hand. Their fan base had him already on their board, so to speak, so it came as a pleasant surprise to me to see him go elsewhere. I really thought Mavety was a done deal, so I really think McMillan becomes really important for many reasons, including perception and momentum. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I said last week Mavety would not end up at Ohio State, yet you thought he was a done deal.

The lesson: listen to Birm. :)

Jdadams01's picture

Let's hope you're just as right about Raekwon!

MN Buckeye's picture

I always listen to Birm! No need to bother with anyone's opinion outside of 11W.

jbirmmd's picture

I hope your instincts are right on his impending announcement, as we definitely need an infusion of talent at LB. 
However, (and you know this of course) my pessimistic side doesn't see us winning a head to head battle with Alabama.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Things can change quickly....especially if this happens. 

jbirmmd's picture

No doubt about that one 

Bj Mullens over Sully's picture

I guess my question is if Saban were to end up at Texas, and Bama chose Kirby Smart to replace him, would that not effect Bama due to Smarts relationship with Kwon?

Favorite Buckeye: Obviously BJ Mullens

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

If Smart were chosen to take over at Bama, the likelihood is Raekwon would go to Bama. 

Brutus' Left Nut's picture

I assume Smart is the favorite if Saban leaves?  I feel like that decision wouldn't happen before Raekwon enrolls though.  If Saban leaves before Monday but no replacement is announced before Kwon has to enroll, would that help or hurt us?

Ericgobucks's picture

I more so meant the long haul. I have just started coming to 11W with regularity. I love the content and appreciate ground rules that Bucknuts refuses to enforce. I remember back when Euleumanor tried to commit and was rejected it seemed as though they staff was really thinking Mavety was in the bag. This recruiting game is certainly cut throat. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

There's no doubt about that, Eric. Things change very quickly. Ironically, it may very well have been Ohio State's need at OL next year (and presumed "rebuilding year" with thoughts of Miller departing) that FSU used to their advantage.

Also, Eluemunor was not rejected. He committed to Ohio State, told me directly. Then he changed his mind, which he did three total times.

cajunbuckeye's picture

I listen to Birm 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time, I go with pure speculation and jumping to conclusions, just to build up some drama!

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

Seattle Linga's picture

That 10% is kinda like playing Russian Roulette huh? LOL

AndyVance's picture

Ah, good ol' SWAG: Scientific (that's where Birm comes in) Wild Ass Guess (that's the other 10%).

Bucks43201's picture

Saban reportedly won't sign the next contract extension at Alabama
Where there's smoke, there's fire, (in this situation).
I also felt that a hint came when Saban appeared on GameDay Saturday, there just seemed to be some kind of closure to him, with this aura. I felt as though he was looking for a new challenge, and was done at Alabama.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Joe4's picture

If Saban goes to Texas I wonder if Alabama fans will complain for the next three years that he left the cupboards bare, lol

lsjSnail's picture

Nah, they will blame Meyer.

jkrk's picture

The best part about Saban possibly leaving for Texas is that he would then also have some sex appeal for Alabama.

Joe4's picture

I love Birm, and think he's basically always right, but this one time, I hope the folks at 247 have better sources!

bethesdabuck's picture

Thanks very much, Jeremy, for this excellent write up. Two questions:
1. Is the consensus that Johnnie Dixon is underrated? Most if not all sites don't have him as a top 100 player, but I've heard many refer to him as an elite recruit. Is this based on the Opening or his senior year? 
2. Do you like our chances with Bookser, or is he essentially a lock for Pitt?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think Dixon is very underrated. The kid is a flat out star.

Bookser: let's reassess after this weekend.

Bucks43201's picture

I'm a little concerned that Kirby Smart would take over at Bama, and then Kwon would sign with Bama.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

If that happens, you should be concerned.

sfgoody's picture

Birm, I'm tired so bear with me kwon has a good relationship with kirby, and kirby is already at ala but....kwon is more likely to be a bama commit if saban leaves? I mean I think smart is good, but we're talking saban. Guess I don't get why relationship or no ala is more attractive without saban. Can you help me understand?


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Because one of the biggest worries he has about Bama is that Smart may leave, not Saban.That's where his best relationship is with Bama, and that's the guy who would be coaching him directly.

wpitt41's picture

Do you think Bama would hire a guy with no head coaching experience? I understand hiring from within, but I think the state would probably melt down with Saban leaving AND Bama hiring someone that isn't a "big-name" guy.


Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I don't think Bama would hire Smart, personally.

HighBallAce's picture

They should hire

sharks's picture

If Saban is leaving Alabama, he wouldn't be so dishonest as to continue to recruit kids for them, would he...?
Don't answer that.

A man got to have a code...

WhySoSerious's picture

Birm. who's gonna play safety for us? 


Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Malik Hooker and Erick Smith?

WhySoSerious's picture

Malik Hooker I think he's going to be a great safety. Do you see him pushing for early playing time next year?


Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

Furious George 27's picture

What about Von Bell?

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

Jordan Wagner's picture

Brock Ruble is set to decide between Maryland, N.C. State and Florida State, Friday. Birm mentioned him as a possibility to get a closer look. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Cross another one off the list. Ruble is likely staying home at Maryland.

Toolface4's picture

Birm, With brown out of texas, any one stick out that the bucks can snag a la dontre?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Wouldn't anticipate much movement there, although it could certainly help with Solomon Thomas.

Joe4's picture

Would Saban to Texas help Texas with Solomon Thomas?

WarBuckeyes17's picture

Those who choose to come to Ohio State will be champions, the ignorant few who choose else wise will be terminated with extreme prejudice on the football field. I do not lose sleep nor do I go about my daily life concerning myself with the fickle decisions of young boys. We sign who we sign, those that are willing and able to go above and beyond the call of duty for their fellow teammates, coaches,fans and The Ohio Sate University, will be developed into outstanding men. They will be rewarded in a most opulent fashion, the tremendous honor of calling Ohio State Buckeye.

If you are the big tree, we are the small axe - Bob Marley 

Brutus' Left Nut's picture

I don't concern myself with the fickle decisions of young boys either.  I just comment on articles concerning the fickle decisions of young boys.

HighBallAce's picture

I give your t-shirt a 10! A F"ING 10!!!! A 10!!!!!

Alabama Buckeye's picture

Does anybody know the status of the 5 star linebacker we recruited out of Texas last year? I noticed he did not see any playing time this season.

703Buckeye's picture

Mike Mitchell is redshirting this season. One knock on him coming out of high school is that he needed to work on the mental part of his game; he dominated off his freakish athleticism. My guess is he's taking this season to grasp the finer points of playing linebacker at the college level.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

ibuck's picture

Hope he picks it up faster than Curtis Grant. Is it possible that concussions in HS may affect these guys?

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

WhySoSerious's picture

He'll play next season. I think UFM gave the seniors he didn't recruit a chance to play. He always mentioned how much they meant to him and so on. Next year it's fair game. hopefully.


Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

Brutus' Left Nut's picture

There are no senior LBs...

Bucks43201's picture

Saw Malik Hooker play a few games this year. Mark my words: he will be the absolute steal of this recruiting class. He's just a raw athlete. He's good enough to probably D-1 in hoops, too.
I'm already gonna give him a future nickname: "Malik the Freak"

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

BuckeyeStrong1993's picture

KWON commits the 16th. Saban wouldnt resign till after his bowl game correct? If that would be the case Kwon will already be commited and packing to start for college the 6th or the 8th. So how will this even be a factor when he will already be commited and enrolling in school?


Hayze's picture

Not sure if it's been posted or not, but 247 had an update yesterday regarding Kwon and he apparently told both schools who had coaches making in home visits that the main team both were battling was OSU.

DenBuck's picture

Ragnow would seem like a great option. Why did we back off? He appears to be the "best of the rest" since Bookser looks like a longshot?

Buckeye For Life

RunEddieRun1983's picture

I'd really like to see Roderick Johnson in this class.  He's crazy amounts of underrated, the CS really needs to make a push for him.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

1MechEng's picture

Is it just me, or would this site just implode without Birm's calm rationale and knowledge of recruits?
What an asset to 11W! Keep up the good work, Jeremy!
On edit - Jordan Wagner does a pretty darn good job on this front as well.

sharks's picture

We'd all be citing that Michael Chung guy and it would be chaos

A man got to have a code...

Dublin68's picture

Birm or Jordan, is that true that Urban with an in home visit with 5 star CB Tony Brown who considered a lock to LSU

Ericgobucks's picture

How cool would that be if Tony Brown becomes this year's Vonn Bell?? I love Tony Brown's swagger...he's definitely not short on confidence.