Football Recruiting: Sudden Impact

By Jeremy Birmingham on January 19, 2014 at 12:00p
Vrabel's departure has left some gaps in Ohio State recruiting
Rod Johnson returned to Ohio StateRoderick Johnson first visited OSU in 2012.

Welcome to your weekend recruiting update boys and girls. It's another day of close to subzero temperatures in Ohio but that's not stopped Buckeye recruiting from heating up as we approach my favorite holiday, signing day!

With two-and-a-half weeks to go before the ink dries, we've seen an influx of new names pop up on the Buckeye big board. Today we'll examine more closely a few of those names as well as a couple of key moving parts in the 2015 class.


We'll start this update with a few words on the official visits that are taking place this weekend because I know that's the "important" stuff and what most of you are looking for updates on. Unfortunately, as the players are still on campus the updates are going to be a bit sparse. We really don't want to to get in the habit of reaching out to kids while they're on campus with the coaching staff and their hosts.

What I know is that Pat Elflein has been the host for Brady Taylor who has not decided on his future yet. The Buckeyes are obviously hoping for a pledge from the Columbus native this weekend and would like to prevent him from taking another trip to Virginia Tech. Taylor told me prior to his arrival on Friday afternoon that he still planned on taking the visit to Blacksburg but that he'd "see what happens." I'd not be surprised at all if he makes a choice soon to grab his spot in Columbus and forgo that next visit, maybe by Monday.

Perhaps expediting the decision for Taylor was the surprising word that Hazelwood Central (Florissant, MO) offensive tackle Roderick Johnson was making his official visit to Ohio State. It was surprising in the way that I had spoken to Johnson just days before and he seemed to be very uncertain as to whether or not he'd check out the Buckeyes or if he really wanted to, despite Ohio State being in pretty regular contact with him. Johnson spent a lot of his time with Ezekiel Elliott and despite most people believing he's "all Florida State," the visit to Columbus at least signifies his interest in the Buckeyes is real.

The big questions — as yet unanswered — remains: Would Ohio State take both offensive lineman if they could?

I think the answer is yes, if Taylor and Johnson both want in, the Buckeyes would happily accept both commitments knowing they could take the two offensive lineman and a defensive lineman and call it a day. Yes, that means they'd end up outside looking in on Mike Gesicki, but that's likely anyway. 

As far as the defensive line, one of the three remaining primary targets, Derrick Nnadi, made his official visit to Ohio State this weekend as well and from all reports things have gone well. I hope to have to more on his visit after he returns to Virginia. Sorry. #SadFace

2015 FOCUS

Even though we've got a few weeks left in 2014, the majority of the focus during the week has turned beginning the pursuit of 2015 prospects. This weekend Ohio State offered Tarvarus McFadden, a potential five-star defensive back prospect from Fort Lauderdale's American Heritage high school. While McFadden's interest in the Buckeyes is just getting piqued, the offer and interest is of note. The name of the high school should be familiar to recruitniks because it's the home of quarterback Torrance Gibson, one of the nation's premiere athletes and a player who is very interested in Ohio State.

Tweet TweetFitzpatrick doesn't love recruiting, but does he love the Buckeyes?

Gibson's a major fan of Ohio State and the Buckeyes are a major fan of Gibson (Tom Herman visited the 6-foot-4 athlete this past Friday afternoon.) Gibson understands how he, as a quarterback, could really mold his future recruiting class with an early pledge but insists a decision isn't coming anytime soon.

"I'm just gonna take my time," Gibson told 11W. "I know (committing early) could help a lot, because I think if I commited to a big time school people will follow because they'd know we are going to build a great dynasty." 

Will that be at Ohio State? I'm getting close to thinking that's a yes. 

What about the other outstanding quarterback/defensive back duo with Buckeyes offer in 2015, Brandon Wimbush and Minkah Fitzpatrick? Fitzpatrick stirred Twitter on Saturday afternoon with a tweet suggesting his recruitment will be over sooner rather than later. Does that mean Fitzpatrick has a good idea of where he wants to go already? Not quite, but he's growing weary of the process already and that bodes well for a few of the programs that have established a relationship with him early in his recruitment.

"I am not going to drag it all out," Fitzpatrick said Saturday when asked if he was close to making a choice. "When I know what school I want to go to I'll announce."

Wimbush still plans to announce his college choice towards the end of February. It's not yet known how Penn State's hiring of James Franklin will impact Wimbush, but it's likely to play a part in things before all is said and done.

A newer name on the horizon for 2015 is Avon, Connecticut tight end Chris Clark, a strapping 6-foot-6, 245 pounder who has become one of the hotter commodities at the position for 2015 in recent weeks. Offered by the Buckeyes on December 20th, Clark also has offers from Georgia, Arizona State, Boston College, NC State, Indiana and a number of others. This weekend he's made it clear that he's got a favorite early in the process.

"Ohio State is my favorite right now," Clark told Eleven Warriors. "Coach Hinton stopped by to see me on Thursday and it went really well. He told me that I was bigger than he expected me to be and that he'd like to have me in the 2014 class if he could. He wants me to come down for a practice this spring, so I'll visit there March 21st."

Chris Clark highlights


It's no secret that coaching changes are part of the business that is college football, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one recruit who's had his recruitment more impacted by coaching changes that Buckeye target Solomon Thomas. As you may or may not know, Thomas has a final five schools that include Ohio State, Texas, Arkansas, UCLA and Stanford, with most people believing that he's leaning toward the Cardinal of Stanford. In the last month Thomas has seen key coaches from four of his five favorites depart, understandably impacting his recruitment.

At Ohio State, the departure of Mike Vrabel was a major loss, forcing the Buckeyes to try and play catch up with new defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. Johnson visited Coppell on Friday afternoon and Thomas and his parents and coaches were impressed by his candor and pedigree, but whether it will it be enough to help the Buckeyes get back in the driver seat is hard to say. 

At Arkansas, defensive coordinator Chris Ash departed for Ohio State. While Ash was not the coach responsible for recruiting Thomas directly, his leaving leaves an air of uncertainty about what the defensive gameplan in Fayetteville will be next year. 

At Texas, Mack Brown was let go and Charlie Strong has brought a whole new staff to the Longhorns. 

This week, Stanford's Derek Mason, the successful defensive coordinator for the Cardinal, took the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. Again, Mason was not the primary recruiter for Thomas, but there's at least a chance that he could ask Randy Hart, the defensive line coach at Stanford to accompany him to Nashville, which could lead to another round of upheaval in Thomas' recruitment. According to people close to Thomas the most important factor from a football standpoint is the relationship the defensive lineman has with his position coach, so anything is possible at this point. 


Comments Show All Comments

allbucksallthetime's picture

Birm, as always, thanks for the great information.  I look forward to seeing how the 2014 class fills out.  Your updates are greatly appreciated.  Go Bucks!

Seattle Linga's picture

Can't wait until NSD

bdegroff's picture

Just curious to know how many spots the Bucks have left to fill. Are they looking to try and land 3 - 5 more recruits?

BuckeyeRealist13's picture

I'm not an expert, but every blog / recruiting site that I've seen, 11W, LGHL, Scout, 247, all seem to be in agreement that Ohio State will have 3 more committs before NSD. 

"You're damn right thats daddy" - Urban Meyer 

KBonay's picture

Of the 5 programs Thomas is considering, you have to think Larry Johnson SR as our D-line Coach is a major plus. Although new at OSU he has an incredible track record with his talent. 

Knarcisi's picture

Birm, are we still firm at this point for officials from Thomas and McDowell on 1/31?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Nothing has changed up to this point, but of course things can get switched up right until the day before the visit.

Knarcisi's picture

Always understood ... Will take that as a yes ... For now. 

Ericgobucks's picture

Hey Jeremy, if you were to guess today, who would be the last 3? It sounds like Brady Taylor really wants in and just feels torn because of the commitment to VT. Who do you guess will be the other 2? You probably have said somewhere else and I apologize if I missed it. Thanks for all you do. 

Knarcisi's picture

It's been a tough January 2014 for the Buckeyes. I say we get it over with, wrap this outstanding class up on 2/3, then throw an anchor for 2015 with Gibson!

allbucksallthetime's picture

Birm, you said in the article above that if both offensive lineman (Johnson and Taylor) want in, you could see the staff taking one more defensive lineman and calling it a day with 3 more added to the class.  Any chance the class could end up with more than 3 new commitments?  Thanks.  Go Bucks!    

Ebvine96's picture

Chris Clark looks like baby gronk

Seattle Linga's picture

I'll take that all day!!!!!!!!!!

BuckGnome's picture

Birm, I really hope we land Torrance Gibson.  What a stud.  If Wimbush commits fairly early, do you feel that will negatively impact Ohio State's chances of landing Gibson?
Great stuff, BTW, as usual.

Quickturtle's picture

As much as I would like him in our class, you do have to feel for Solomon Thomas as a college football fan of any school. Think about it from his point of view. It's gotta be tough to start trusting a new recruiter this quickly.  I just hope he picks what is the most comfortable for him, whether it's the good guys or not.
And if anyone can, I think Larry could build that relationship quickly and genuinely. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Don't expect any decision from Brady Taylor today. Has a lot to consider before making a decision. Doesn't want to be the guy who goes back on his word, but at the same time realizes this is a dream come true situation.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Birm... Who is going to be our next 2015 commit?

JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

why are we making a big deal out of Brady Taylor? He's a 3-star and theres a good chance he'll never see the field

Buckeye fan from PA

Woodshed's picture

Posts like this make me realize that we have just as many clueless fans as people claim that we do.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

One person makes you realize this?

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

If you've read any of Birm or Jordan's updates, you'd understand that he's a very underrated prospect in this class. 

Jordan Wagner's picture

I have long been "calling" for this offer. For months. I liked the offer to Brady Taylor and this isn't me justifying the staff's decision or "In Urban I Trust". 

TresselourgodUrbanoursavior's picture

Elflein was a lower rated 3 star than Taylor

ohhiyo's picture

and Nick Mangold wasnt ranked at all

jbirmmd's picture

Pretty narrow minded thinking to ONLY look at "star" ratings when considering a player.  I would trust that our coaches know, who does and doesn't have the potential to play big time football. 
There are innumerable examples of under rated players making it big time, not just in college, but from college to pro as well.  I believe AJ Hawk was a three star and he turned out "ok"

JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

If we wanted him that bad, we would have been recruiting him since the beginning, He's only someone to fill a spot in the class.

Buckeye fan from PA

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

He's one of roughly 10 offensive tackles in the entire country who have received an Ohio State offer in 2014, so in some way I'd suggest that trumps the entire "only a three-star" argument. 

JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

He just recently got it, and only got it because he lives in Ohio.

Buckeye fan from PA

703Buckeye's picture

Jake: If Taylor wasn't good enough, Urban would have offered the scholarship to someone else or banked it for 2015. Just because Taylor wasn't first offered or the highest ranked guy doesn't mean he's undeserving of an OSU offer.
Plenty of OSU legends were of the 3-star variety, I'm sure Urban believes Taylor can be the same.

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

tdible2132's picture

You sound so spoiled it's unbelievable. Taylor was a key piece in VT's class, and that's no slouch program.

jedkat's picture

You just got Birm'd son!

"Can we please stop the message board fighting? I really can't stand the message board fighting..."

"No. You're an idiot, and your posts are terrible."

36buck's picture

 Bull. U really think we would waste a ship on someone we didnt think could play just to fill a spot?  Dumb

skid21's picture

I understand all the defending of 3 star players but like it or not the unpopular poster has a point. It is VERY late in the process and OSU lost out on a couple of other OL prospects they were pursuing. A local prospect doesn't get offered until a couple of weeks before signing day. Why all the defensiveness at this point? Has he improved that much over the last month to warrant an offer? Again, I'm not hating this offer, just saying that some who think it is an offer which is the result of not getting who they really wanted definitely has a point IMO.

cinserious's picture

You have a point SKID21 but remember who would be coaching-up 3* Brady Taylor: Its Ed Warriner dammitt! Not Jim Bollman. We have damn good reason to think we'll get our money's worth.

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

JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

Thank you

Buckeye fan from PA

BuckGnome's picture

So that means Tressel was a complete idiot for offering a scholarship to AJ Hawk???

Him1stftballl8er's picture

3 Stars
Malcolm Jenkins 
James Laurinaitis
AJ Hawk 
Travis Howard - Started for 2 years
Zach Boren - Stud
Bradley Roby - NFL/All-American
Jonathan Hankins - NFL
Tyvis Powell - current starter
Pat Elflein - probable starter
Jacoby Boren - probable starter
Jamal Marcus - Baller!!
Joel Hale - current Starter
Jeff Heuerman - current starter/ probable NFL
Kenny Guiton - Stud

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

Remington2323's picture

I guess we should have never offered Malcom Jenkins, James Lauriniatis., A.J. Hawk, Big John Hankins, Bradley Roby, Zach Boren, Antonio Pittman, and Vernon Gholston....

nm_buck's picture

Because he's a 3 star he'll never see the field?  
tell that to AJ Hawk

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

BenArazi4's picture

Sure you thought that about Malcolm Jenkins and A.J. Hawk too.  Smh.




Seattle Linga's picture

Birms as always your info is top shelf. I am so geeked for NSD

SomethingOriginal's picture

Birm, what's your favorite kind of soup?

d gordon a's picture

I luv 3 stars   Look at OSU history

PittBuckeye's picture

Chris Clark no more runs a 4.74 40 than I do.

bdegroff's picture

I believe James Laurinaitis was a 3 star, M. Jenkins as well.

saltybuck61's picture

Troy Smith was another three star guy. So was Bradley Roby. If you looked at Ohio State's best players from the last ten years, quite a few of them were three stars. 

Woodshed's picture

FWIW Troy Smith was a consensus 4* ATH and an elite 11 invitee.

saltybuck61's picture

Thank you for the correction. My bad.

sk4664's picture

Why is Trey Johnson not being discussed?  He got early play time as a 2nd teamer at the beginning of the season....

Crimson's picture

Here then: Trey Johnson is the most likely starter at Will linebacker next season.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

With Ash bringing an aggressive 4-3, I think the staff will find a way to get McMillan, Johnson, and Mitchell all on the field at the same time.  

bucknut94's picture

Taylor, will be a Buckeye. Although he committed to VT, I believe he wants to play in his hometown for his favorite team.  There is nothing wrong with changing your mind when circumstances change in your favor.

Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed - Urban's been saying that for a long time and I completely agree. A 17-18 year old makes a decision to go to one school and then decides it's better to go somewhere else. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Taylor will return with his mother to Columbus tomorrow so she can spend a bit more time talking with Urban Meyer. His choice could come at any time after that, but I'd be surprised if he makes it to VaTech again this weekend.

bdegroff's picture

Where did Taylor play high school football? Its just personal opinion, but I think some players get over looked do to lack of attention. They may have played at high schools that aren't considered big time schools. I have no idea where the 3 star players mentioned above played their high school ball, but I think many of them have "5 star syndrome". They were over looked, or under valued and played with a chip on their shoulder. I enjoyed and enjoy watching these guys become studs. If Taylor jumps on board, I will look forward to seeing him mature and hopefully dominate in the near future!

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Bishop Ready plays suspect competition for sure, one of the major knocks on Taylor.

bdegroff's picture

What division does Bishop Ready play in?

swainpm's picture

They are in Div VI and are part of the CCL with Desales (Warren Ball), Watterson, Hartley, and St Charles they comprise the Columbus Central Catholic League Schools. All the teams in the CCL don't need to be in the same division last I remember nor do they always play each other.

nm_buck's picture

wonder how many 3 stars were on that sparty defense that stuffed pretty much everyone this year

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

KBonay's picture

Cook, Harris and Davis were all 3-stars from 2011 class (they only had on 4-star).
2010 class had one 5-star (Gholston) and a couple of 4-stars including Max Bullough.
But Darqueze Dennard was 3-star. And Jeremy Langford (1400 yards rushing) wasn't even ranked...

Seattle Linga's picture

IMO - if Taylor does go to tOSU he will be a much better player at the end of his collegiate career than if he goes to VT.

mtrotb's picture


0. new bdegroff on 19 Jan 2014 - 8:23pm #
What division does Bishop Ready play in?
Division 5 or 6.  Small schools.


gm3jones's picture

Bishop Ready is a good football school. It is pretty much in my back yard so I go to games every week. Brady Taylor is legit. He will not come in and dominate at first, but he has been well coached. And they do play really weak schools some of the time but mostly play very solid schools. They have an excellent coaching staff. I plan on my son going there... better than most of the inner city schools around here and have a third of the guys.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

cinserious's picture

You absolutely take both O-Linemen in Brady Taylor and Roderick Johnson just for the simple fact that Urban started out with a full, talented Defensive Line (pre-Meyer) and made it a priority to recruit and coach-up that position group to be the best in the country, a task about 95% complete.

The Offensive Line however, Urban started out way behind the eight ball with the talent level, depth, and under-coached talent to begin with. We are still in the process of building up all three phases as we speak and if fortunate enough to get two high-caliber O-Linemen, its a no brainer.

I would take Taylor/Roderick over either Thompson or McDowell just because of the disparity in depth.

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

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Just in case people start asking a lot of questions:

gm3jones's picture

They choose Eric-Glover Williams out of McKinley High school in Canton as our anchor next year.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

ChazBuckeye's picture

To me, the coaching carousel is going to help OSU IMO.  I think Thomas ends up choosing OSU and the Monster McDowell chooses MSU.  I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas chooses Stanford too.  It seems to be a fluid situation with his recruitment.  I'd like D. Nnadi too but I don't think he chooses OSU (now watch me be wrong on all accounts and Nnadi chooses OSU and Thomas doesn't ;-) 

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.