The Race Is On

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 1, 2014 at 12:30p
46 Comments

Welcome to Tuesday afternoon friends, it's time once again to talk Buckeye football recruiting. We're going to start off with a bit of hair-brushing, because I know the perceived "domination" happening from Happy Valley right now has some Buckeye fans spooked. Let's cut to the chase.

Yes, James Franklin is one heck of a recruiter. He's young, he's dynamic, he's at a place he grew up dreaming of being and he's selling many of the eastern seaboard's finest on being a part of the class that brings back Penn State from oblivion. The Nittany Lions landed two more players with Buckeye offers this past weekend, Indiana linebacker Josh Barajas and New Jersey lineman Steven Gonzalez, and because of that some people are beginning to get a bit stir crazy. Of the two, the bigger "loss" is Barajas, because: A.) He's actually visited Ohio State B.) I'm not convinced the Buckeyes' interest in Gonzalez was as serious as many let on, and I think a part of that is because social media (read: Twitter) was really cheering the young man on as he named Ohio State his leader over and over.

Now, here's the real "concept" I want you to take away from this: Ohio State is not recruiting against Penn State. Ohio State is recruiting against Alabama and Florida State. Penn State is making a lot of noise right now, but these things have a way of leveling off (See: Michigan, University of, 2012-2013.) I know I've said it before, but I feel at this point it's imperative to reiterate: trust Urban Meyer, and trust his staff. Follow the plan.

LISTS, TIMELINES, AND VISITS

Monday was "cutdown day" for a few of the nation's elite prospects. Ohio State made the final ten for Cincinnati St. Xavier's Justin Hilliard, the final twenty for Richmond (Va.) star Ricky DeBerry, Jr. and the top eight for running back Ronald Jones of McKinney, Texas. Jones is the nation's second-ranked tailback, but he — along with DeBerry — has yet to visit Ohio State's campus. DeBerry, from St. Christopher's school in Richmond, has scheduled a visit with the Buckeyes on April 18th.

Last night, Ft. Lauderdale five-star quarterback Torrance Gibson changed his timetable for a decision via Twitter.  Last week, Gibson made news when he announced his decision would come mid-summer or sooner, but it seems his urgency has faded. Whether or not this new decision is a good or bad thing for Ohio State is up for debate, but I consider it a positive for Meyer's staff. Without a visit, Gibson will not be a Buckeye, and this new timeline allows for at least one, and maybe two, visits to Columbus. So, it's a good thing in my mind.

This weekend is shaping up to be another busy one for the Buckeyes, but two of the more intriguing visits are happening mid-week. Today, Jacksonville (Ill.) lineman Gabe Megginson is on campus and Thursday sees a visit from Missouri tight end Hale Hentges.

Megginson, who camped at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights last summer, picked up a Buckeye offer in mid-February. He has been anxious to get back to Columbus to check out the Buckeyes. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Missouri, Louisville are a few of the in the mix and he'll visit Happy Valley tomorrow. Eleven Warriors will have reaction from Megginson after his visit. 

Hentges will arrive with his family on Thursday. Ohio State, hoping to make a major impression on the 6-foot-4, 230 pounder from Helias, will roll out the red carpet.  Although Avon (Conn.) tight end Chris Clark, a North Carolina commit, will visit on April 18th. Ohio State's search for the right pair of tight ends presses on. Clark visited Notre Dame this past weekend.

TRAVIS WALLER MAKING AN APRIL VISIT?

We've talked about a handful of quarterbacks on this site over the last few months, but not Anaheim (Calif.) Servite signal-caller Travis Waller. Waller's game and frame is reminiscent of Buckeye target Lorenzo Nunez, and he's been in pretty steady contact with Ohio State's Tom Herman. In fact, Waller —a US Army All-American game invitee — is working to get a visit to Columbus scheduled in April. 

"I talked to (Herman) a bit ago," Waller told 11W Monday night. "'l'll be visiting this month most likely. (Herman) really wants me out there and check the campus out with him and hopefully watch a practice. He wants me to see how they get after it at practice and spend the day with the team, to see the life of a Buckeye."

HIGHLIGHTS

Although Ohio State's California footprint is faint, Waller's very familiar with the Buckeyes. In fact, his older brother is a life-long Ohio State fan and has been extolling the virtues of the Scarlet and Gray for years.

Waller currently has offers from Washington, Arizona, BYU, Northwestern, and Colorado. He's in regular contact with Oregon's Scott Frost, and he believes that Ohio State and Oregon are both serious about a possible offer when the May evaluation period arrives. Waller is a high school teammate of Equanimeous St. Brown, a talented wide receiver with a great name and a shot at Buckeye offer. 

A TOUCH OF HOOPS

Here's a brief interruption of your regularly scheduled football recruiting new.

Ohio State is, right now, the leader to land Trevor Thompson, a 6-foot-11 transfer from Virginia Tech. Thompson would have three years of eligibility left after sitting out the 2014-2015 season. Thompson hosted Thad Matta on Sunday afternoon and with a host of available scholarships for 2015, the Buckeyes could be a comfortable landing spot for the center who graduated from Indianapolis' Ben Davis High School. A potential visit to Ohio State is scheduled for the weekend of April 11th, and if things go well, the Buckeyes could nab their second key transfer. For their part, the Buckeyes are turning up the heat on Thompson, Sammy Silverman style

One other player making an announcement soon is Fairfax (Va.) shooting guard Franklin Howard. The 69th-ranked player in the 247Sports.com composite ranking for 2015, the 6-foot-4, 185-pound Howard has Ohio State in his final five schools. Maryland, Georgetown, Syracuse and N.C. State round out his final group and it's expected by most that Howard will stay on the coast. 

 

Recovering from a torn ACL, Howard is more of a slasher-scorer than a spot-up shooter. He would be an excellent — and surprising — addition to the 2015 class for Thad Matta, especially if 2014 signee D'Angelo Russell's Buckeye career ends as most of Matta's five-star recruits have: after one season.

 

46 Comments

Comments

BassDropper's picture

Wow, didn't even know Waller existed until now. He looks like the total package. Im starting leave the TG bandwagon. This may be my new #1

DIRECTIONER

+2 HS
Buckeye74's picture

Saw him play this year versus Mater Dei (Santa Ana).  Two excellent programs and he was, by far, the best player on the field. Didn't know he was this highly rated.  

"You either get better, or worse, you never stay the same."  Woody Hayes

+2 HS
bodast67's picture

the top eight for running back Ronald Jones of McKinney, Texas. McKinney is the nation's second-ranked tailback,

I think you meant Ronald Jones, Jeremy.

 

 

 

     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Haha, derp. Thanks.

buckeyeradar's picture

Birm, Jones is not coming to Ohio State.  I live in the town south of McKinney, Allen, Texas and he's shortened his list to five Pac 12 and Big 12 mostly.  But there is a gem down here in Allen.  A dual quarterback Kyler Murray.  He's only led his team to two consecutive state big boy championships as a sophomore and a junior.  Just ask D. Wilson he knows him well.  Check him out.

Buckeye in Texas

+2 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Without a Buckeye visit, it is 100% certainty that Jones will not go to Ohio State. Yes, that's accurate.

okiebuck's picture

You are spot on with the Murray kid, the QB from Allen; I remember seeing him a few years ago at the championship game at Jerry World, when he started as a sophomore. He was a skinny kid but he's filling out and was quick as hell. I also remember seeing the RB from Katy who went to Nebraska but can't remember his name; he was a hoss. Go Bucks!

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

thatlillefty's picture

@BuckeyeRadar - These are the sort of contributions that make this site truly great. I was in Houston over the holidays and got to watch the Texas championships w/ my grandpa and the talent down there is ridiculous. Thanks for the input. Much appreciated.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Murray is no secret, Buckeyes and everyone else is aware of him, but he's almost assuredly staying in Texas for college.

sivaDavis's picture

I really wanted Stidham and Nunez in this class. But as time goes on I see the Buckeyes are in on so many QB prospects that it's crazy. Good to be a Buckeye fan.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
pdan46's picture

I hope that you are correct about Thompson!  Howard would also be a great addition.  What is the status of Giddens?  Crystal Ball says 100 percent to OSU.  I hope that proves to be the case.  And, has anyone heard whether Mitchell will honor his committment to OSU?

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Mickey doesn't really talk, so it's hard to say what's going on there. As of now, he's still committed to Ohio State and that's all we have to go on.

Giddens, I'm unsure. We'll see what we can dig up.

OldColumbusTown's picture

I've read on several sites that Mickey has re-affirmed his commitment to OSU.  I do not know what the sources are for this, but I believe LGHL may have first had it on their site.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I'd be interested to see the link for that. I don't know of anyone that he spoken to on the record about it.

tennbuckeye19's picture

Birm, here's the link to that info on Mickey Mitchell from LGHL. It doesn't give much detail on his supposed "reaffirmed commitment" but this is what it says: 

The No. 5 power forward in the 2015 class, Mitchell is a major piece to what Ohio State hopes to be a top recruiting class. At 6'7, Mitchell is extremely versatile and is one of the nation's top playmakers. Brother of former Ohio State linebacker Mike Mitchell, Mickey pledged to Ohio State last August, and has reaffirmed his commitment, despite the transfer of his older brother. A game-changing playmaker that will attract fellow top players to join him, Mitchell is the key piece to the 2015 class at the moment.

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Thanks. I'll take their word for it, but without a quote from Mickey that doesn't mean all that much. In this case perhaps silence is golden.

Ahh Saturday's picture

Birm, I would like to believe you that Buckeye interest in Gonzalez was not that serious . . . so I will!  The question is if Gonzalez wasn't that high on the board, who are the OL guys that the Buckeyes have higher, and how good a shot do we have with any of them?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I am not saying OSU didn't like Gonzalez, because they did, but they didn't make a push to get him on campus this spring and that tells me something. Guys like Pat Allen, James Daniels, Austin Clark, etc are all apparently a bit more of a priority at this point.

osubuck57's picture

Hope we hit a homerun with Hentges!!

SCOTTC.

+1 HS
ab1993's picture

I'm glad Gibson isn't committing early cause that gives Wimbush or Nunez the opportunity to commit first.

-1 HS
BoFuquel's picture

Don't worry; trust da coyches. I'm confident things will work out just fine. Time is the great equalizer. Bring home The Dr. Pepper, or duck and cover. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

DougBuckeye's picture

Any guess on when or who will be next to commit? It seems slow going right now.

I may live in North Carolina, but my heart will always be in Ohio.

-1 HS
m5987usus's picture

Ok so birm do you think we lead for hentges???

O-H!

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Ask me again Friday.

m5987usus's picture

Any chance that he commits though on the visit??

O-H!

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I'd say slim to none. Most players are not going to get caught up and commit on the spot during a campus visit, especially during the off-season. Hentges is very interested in Ohio State, the Buckeyes are very interested in Hentges but he's got a few other spots he'd like to check out before he commits, at least that's what he tells me. This tour he's making includes OSU, MSU, UM, Alabama, FSU and Auburn, so he's going to have a pretty good idea of what's what in a pretty short amount of time.

m5987usus's picture

ok and birm is lane visiting for the spring game? He also might go to alabama the week after so does that mean no chance he commits during the Spring game visit?? Thanks for answering all my questions birm, you are the best in the biz, for sure!

O-H!

-1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Sh'Mar doesn't really do much in the way of talking. I've heard OSU is expecting him for the spring game and I think a commitment is more possible from him at that time than one from Hentges this weekend for sure.

m5987usus's picture

Thanks for answering everything birm, I know how busy you are, appreciate it a lot.

O-H!

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

No worries, appreciate you reading. 

Eph97's picture

This post was cut and posted on one of the Nitters boards. They are riding high and actually think Urban is scared of Franklin. Talk about delusional. They have had about the same amount of success against OSU as Wisconsin has had while they've been in the league. For some reason, I think Urban will be just fine come February.

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

They have every right to feel good. Franklin is an excellent coach and they've got a lot of momentum that will carry them into the season. They should win 7-8 games and be on track for a big couple years ahead of them. Right now however, they are not Ohio State's primary concern. The Buckeyes are aiming beyond winning the Big Ten, and while others will scoff and brush that comment off as "homerism" or whatever, the facts are the facts. Alabama, Florida State; that's who the Buckeyes are competing, and recruiting, against.

Jeremypreemo81's picture

Birm I am going to respectively disagree with this
" Alabama, Florida State; that's who the Buckeyes are competing, and recruiting, against"

It should be Ohio State vs. Everybody lol!!!!!!!!

I agree with the PSU comment, they should feel good about themselves, the B1G as a whole should be excited to see these other schools making moves.  It makes for exciting football and intense battles.  I say good for all the B1G schools except SCUM-

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Jeremy, your reassurances about the PSU / Franklin recruiting situation is similar to what I posted a couple of times, of course your assertion is worded so well as a good sports writer can do plus the gravitas you have as a recruiting expert.  Not ready to anoint the Lion King just yet, he should do well over the years but won't consistently be at an Urban Meyer level.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

+1 HS
c92996p's picture

As long as Franklin Howard can play defense, I would love that athleticism here.  Is there any chance he commits to OSU or is he assuredly going to stay East?

John Brandon's picture

Not too familiar with him, but I've seen that he visited Georgetown multiple times and Syracuse is the perceived favorite per the Crystal Ball. I'd imagine it's one of those two schools

DenBuck's picture

Thanks Birm, Please share your thoughts on the QB chase. Do you think we have a REAL shot at Wimbush or Nunez? What targets rank right after those 2? Brush away...

Buckeye For Life

johnblairgobucks's picture

Might be a stupid question, but who is Ohio's top rated 2014 player and is Ohio State in the running to land him?  Also, who do you feel is the "can't miss player" in the state this year..... Seems Jalin Marshall and marshon Lattimore have filled that role the past few years.

ab1993's picture

Justin Hilliard 5* LB or Jerome backer 4*/5* (depending on the service) LB/RB and we're in the running for both.

I would say that Jerome Baker is the "can't miss player". I'm sure you would rather hear from Birm himself, but he'll probably say the same thing.

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think of those two, Baker is the "more important" recruit simply because he's a TRUE Ohio guy, despite growing up fond of Penn State. Hilliard isn't originally from Cincinnati, and no one considers that part of Ohio anyway. :)

thatlillefty's picture

Cincinnati is good people.

BukFan's picture

If you were a PSU fan, why wouldn't you be hyped up?  Two years ago, 99.9% of the folks that follow sports thought PSU wouldn't sign a 4* until 2016!!  Here we are... sanctions still in place, and its like these kids could give a crap about sanctions!

-2 HS
mobboss1984's picture

Wimbush!!!

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Bruce Lee
 

ChazBuckeye's picture

I'm calling it now...Gibson will be the 2015 classes version of DeShaun Watson.  I'm done with even thinking about that situation until he gets on OSU's campus.  Until then, he won't be matriculating north to OSU IMO. 

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.

+1 HS
mobboss1984's picture

Wimbush!!!

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Bruce Lee
 

NuttyBuckeye's picture

Personally, I would like to see Damon Harris, the #1 RB in the class that was committed to scUM but backed off here, followed by Larry Scott, the young man from Hubbard, who is listed as #5 RB by some recruiting sources.

 

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!