The Race Is On

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

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.


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.


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."


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. 


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 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.


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