Signing Day is less than a week away and the dust is beginning to settle. With limited scholarships this year, Ohio State is just about done filling up the "Dream 14," but they have a couple key recruiting battles with a certain school up north. Some big recruiting news, yesterday, shed some light on just how tight things are, as David Njoku cancelled his scheduled official visit to Ohio State.
While the Buckeyes look to close out the 2014 class in a big way (literally) they remain focused on 2015 recruiting as well. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes welcomed another commitment to the 2014 class.
Join us after the jump for updates and analysis on Jamarco Jones and Malik McDowell, as well as 2015 updates and more on Ohio State's latest commitment.
Jamarco Jones update
Keeping Jones is probably the Buckeyes' biggest priority for closing out the 2014 class, and they threw just about everything they had at him last night. Ed Warinner, Larry Johnson and Stan Drayton were all at the Jones' house last night to make their final in-person pitch to Jones.
Well, according to Jones' coach, Mike Boehm, Jones will still be making the visit to Michigan State this weekend. That doesn't mean there is any reason to panic though, as Boehm believes Jones will end up committing to Ohio State in the end. Boehm said that he thinks the visit is "[Jones'] way of reassuring himself that Ohio State is the best place for him." Last night's visit by the Buckeye coaches can't be understated as it appears to have been very impactful on Jones'.
We'll have to wait and see how this weekend's visit goes, but I firmly believe Jones will be a Buckeye when it's all said and done. Jones isn't the only player committed to a B1G school that Michigan State is chasing however, they are after Wisconsin commit Craig Evans as well. I would say it's pretty unethical of Dantonio to do such a thing, but that's just me, I guess.
malik mcdowell thoughts
The Buckeyes secured McDowell's final official visit after Coach Meyer made an in-home visit on Monday, and the Buckeyes will have the opportunity to lay out the red carpet for him this weekend. McDowell has favored Michigan State for a good amount of time now, but his parents continue to prefer Michigan and his dad has been quick to point out that "It's not Malik's decision just on his own." Ohio State could be the perfect "compromise" and Urban Meyer has the last chance to sell McDowell on playing for the scarlet and gray.
If McDowell and his parents can't come to an agreement, Ohio State and Florida State become more likely destinations with Ohio State having a distance advantage that would be important to the family.
Quite frankly, it's anyone's best guess where McDowell will end up committing, but I'm picking the Buckeyes for a few reasons: First, the whole "compromise" idea previously discussed. Second, the news of David Njoku's visit being canceled due to a scholarship Ohio State thought was going to be available no longer being available. Lastly, Meyer's closing ability - McDowell and his family are going to get a bunch of one-on-one time with Meyer this weekend.
There isn't any reason to think McDowell's parents will change their mind about Michigan State between now and Signing Day and there isn't any reason to think McDowell will change his mind about Michigan between now and Signing Day, so I'm cautiously optimistic about the Buckeyes' chances. We'll just have to wait and see how the visit goes this weekend.
coaches continue the chase for 2015
Meanwhile, the Ohio State coaching staff continues working the trail for 2015 and beyond. Not surprisingly, they spent a good deal of time in the New Jersey area again yesterday as Kerry Coombs visited Brandon Wimbush, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Steven Gonzalez and Daiquan Kelly, yesterday. Kelly is a relatively new name on the Ohio State board but is a target they are absolutely interested in. Kelly is a teammate of top target Steven Gonzalez and they could very well be interested in playing together.
Kelly is a big receiver, listed at 6-foot-3 and 200 lbs, and he runs a reported 4.60 forty. He currently holds offers from Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College, Pitt, Virginia and UMass, while Penn State has also shown interest in him. Kelly is a composite 3-star, though 247 lists him as a 4-star and No. 21 athlete in the nation. The Buckeyes currently lead for Steven Gonzalez and I would imagine the possibility of Gonzalez and Kelly playing together could be a very real one if he gets an offer at some point. Kelly is a prospect to keep an eye on, as the Buckeyes have already been in New Jersey a lot and will continue to as they recruit Gonzalez very hard.
Meanwhile, Drayton paid Damien Harris a visit, yesterday. The former Michigan commit is one of the top if not the top running back prospect on Ohio State's board and they continue to chase after him hard. Harris' recruitment is going to be a dogfight between Ohio State, Michigan and others.
Today, Meyer was in the Columbus area checking in on Nick Conner. He is one of Ohio State's top LB targets in the 2015 class and if you haven't read his story, you should check it out. Conner is only a 3 star according to the recruiting services, but the fact that Meyer himself went to visit Conner tells you what the Buckeyes think of him. He doesn't have an offer yet but he could very well get one in the near future, he's a very good prospect in Ohio State's backyard.
buckeyes add another qb commit
Much of the focus leading up to signing day is on Jones and McDowell, but Ohio State quietly added another commitment for the 2014 class this morning – St. Xavier QB Nick Tensing.
Tensing will join the Buckeyes as a preferred walk-on, turning down preferred walk-on offers from several FBS schools and Cornell (the Ivy League does not offer football scholarships). Tensing started at Cincinnati St. Xavier for two years, leading the Bombers to a pair of playoff appearances. He passed for around 2000 yards each year with a completion percentage of 60%. He's a pocket passer but he ran for over 500 yards as a junior and had about 5.5 yards per carry.
At the very least, Tensing adds quality depth at the most important position on the field and he could really blossom under Tom Herman's tutelage. Check out his highlights from the 2013 season finale against Moeller (Sam Hubbard's team - you'll see plenty of him too):
After cancelling his Ohio State official visit yesterday David Njoku wasted no time committing elsewhere, announcing his commitment to Miami today.
Miami is getting a phenomenal athlete and an even better young man in David Njoku. It just goes to show how fast things move in recruiting this time of year. Eleven Warriors will have plenty of additional content in the forums and on Twitter as Signing Day 2014 approaches, so be sure to stay tuned as The Chase continues.