Updates on Austin Clark, Nick Conner, and More

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 6, 2014 at 12:00p
Austin Clark loved his Buckeye visit
37 Comments

Another busy weekend at Ohio State gave another handful of Ohio State targets a chance to see Urban Meyer's program up-close-and-personal. Some have been to Ohio State before, but the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts don't ever slow down with just one visit.

In this afternoon's recruiting recap we'll examine how those key visitors enjoyed their trips to Columbus. We'll also discuss what to expect as we head into the spring's ultimate recruiting weekend, the Ohio State Spring Game.

AUSTIN CLARK

One of the weekend's higher priority visitors, Lexington (Va.) offensive tackle Austin Clark, had an "amazing" visit to Columbus. A summer visitor a year ago for camp, Clark also visited the Buckeyes last fall for a game and Ohio State continues to stand out to the 6-foot-6, 296-pound lineman.

"My favorite part was definitely the scrimmage," Clark told 11W. "There was so much energy and intensity. I really liked how the students came out to support the team."

While Clark still has a ways to go before making a decision, he does hope to narrow down his list within a few weeks. Ohio State will absolutely be on the short list for the star of the Charlotte NFTC camp.

NICK CONNER

Dublin (Scioto) linebacker Nick Conner was back Ohio State yesterday and it seems the Buckeyes are still evaluating Conner for a potential offer. One of Ohio's top linebackers, Conner has been to Ohio State three times in the last month, and said yesterday's experience was a bit different than previous visits because of the atmosphere surrounding "Student Appreciation Day."

Ohio State's approach with Conner is similar to the approach being utilized with Lagrange (Ohio) tight end C.J. Conrad. If Conner is to end up a Buckeye, he's almost assuredly going to have to come back to Ohio State and camp this summer. The Buckeyes are pursuing a number of linebacker candidates, but as the numbers crunch on the 2015 class, Ohio State might find themselves needing to make difficult decisions soon.

Hallandale (Fla.) linebacker Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane is still scheduled to be on campus next weekend and a number of people close to Ohio State think it's possible he could commit to the Buckeyes soon. Cleveland's Jerome Baker would be the next in line at the linebacker spot and that leaves one spot left, and the Buckeyes hope that's for Cincinnati's Justin Hilliard. As of now, I believe it likely that the Buckeyes would not take a fourth linebacker in the class. 

STERLING JENKINS DOWN TO TWO

The budding Penn State/Ohio State recruiting rivalry could crank it up an extra notch thanks to the recruitment of 2015 offensive tackle Sterling Jenkins. This past Thursday evening, Rivals.com analyst Adam Friedman broke news that the 6-foot-8, 305-pounder was down to his final two schools: Penn State and Ohio State.

Jenkins stands over most competition
Sterling Jenkins will choose between OSU and PSU

Prevailing wisdom is that Jenkins will ultimately choose the Nittany Lions, giving James Franklin another "win" over Urban Meyer on the recruiting trail. For his part, Jenkins says that the upcoming visit to Ohio State (April 11th) is not just cursory.

"I really do like Ohio State and what they have to offer," Jenkins shared on Thursday night. "I'm aware that programs don't win in April."

That quote by Jenkins, in response to Penn State's hot recruiting start, is encouraging. He knows that people assume the Nittany Lions have the lead, but he says that's just speculation. He admitted the one thing Ohio State has to do in order to change perception is "spend time." They'll get that chance on Friday afternoon.

Of course, Jenkins is going back to Penn State the following day. I believe this is another "head or heart" situation. If the Buckeyes want to win Jenkins' commitment, they'll do so by continuing to focus on history, winning tradition and a chance to play for a national title sooner than three-to-four years down the line.

Game on.

Randomness

Ohio State linebacker target Justin Hilliard made a weekend visit to Alabama and really enjoyed his time with the Crimson Tide. It almost goes without saying, but expect Nick Saban's group to be involved here until the very end with Notre Dame, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State.


Missouri tight end Hale Hentges visited Columbus on Thursday and Friday as we discussed here. Over the weekend he checked out Michigan and Michigan State and I'm hearing that ultimately his choice could come down to those three Big Ten programs. Stay tuned.


The aforementioned Conner, scheduled to visit the Buckeyes for the spring game, told me that he's likely to head to Notre Dame next weekend instead of Columbus.


Ohio State legacy and in-state offensive line target James Daniels named Auburn the leader for his services following a visit to check out the Tigers last weekend, but he'll return to Columbus for the spring game next weekend. Ohio State will continue to fight off Auburn and Iowa for Daniels, and right now they're in the trail position. The spring game weekend, with his alumni father, could help turn that around.


Ohio State's 2015 basketball commitment, A.J. Harris made a defender look silly recently. Just something for kicks today. 

37 Comments

Comments

Kingbuck12's picture

Still way to early to get to excited about Ped State. The Urbs is the closer. Enough said. Starting to get annoyed with all this talk about Franklin. He hasn't done much yet. I think our coach might know a thing or Two. Show me the rings. 

Kingbuck12

+4 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

The news regarding Daniels was surprising and disappointing when I first heard it. However, the Spring Game visit may change things. I am also assuming they have a solid back up plan IF Hilliard goes elsewhere. I'd hate to seem them miss on Hilliard and then Conner too. Either way, it's still going to be another top 5-7 class for OSU, and even higher if they can convince kids like Hilliard and Gibson.

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

+1 HS
DenBuck's picture

Next weekend is HUGE, Anything new on the QB recruiting front?

Buckeye For Life

m5987usus's picture

Hey Birm how many commits do you think we get next weekend?

O-H!

jonping67's picture

Top 15 recruits for 2015

  1. Torrance Gibson - QB
  2. Damien Harris - RB
  3. Larry Scott - RB
  4. Christian Kirk - WR
  5. Van Jefferson - WR
  6. Eric Glover Williams - WR (Commit)
  7. Minkah Fitzpatrick - DB
  8. Ben Edwards - DB (Commit)
  9. Jerome Baker - LB
  10. Justin Hilliard - LB
  11. Rick DeBerry - LB
  12. Tim Settle - DT
  13. Drew Richmond - OL
  14. Sterling Jenkins - OL (We need this win over PSU)
  15. Austin Clark - OL

Looks like a top 2 recruiting class to me! GO BUCKS!

sivaDavis's picture

Is that just a list of players with no order or is this list in order of importance? Cause if so, Tim Settle would probably be in the top 2. They need a DT in this class.

"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

jonping67's picture

No particular order, just my top 15.

What do you think?

mtrotb's picture

LB Jeff Holland from Jacksonville, teammate of Ben Edwards is high on the Bucks as well.

mtrotb

sivaDavis's picture

Me personally, I think my 15, not including commits, would be:

1. Justin Hilliard

2a. Tim Settle

2b. Adam McLean

3. Torrance Gibson

4. Minkah Fitzpatrick

5. Damien Harris

6. Jerome Baker

7. Sh'mar Kilby-Lane

8. Chris Clark

9. Drew Richmond

10. Dre'mont Jones

11. Christian Kirk

12. Lorenzo Nunez

13. Devante Peete

14. Kevin Toliver II

"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

sivaDavis's picture

Really think the staff is missing out on Conner. Big kid with a mean streak. Plays with a chip on his shoulder. Luke Kuechly 2.0

"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

+5 HS
jonping67's picture

I agree with you SivaDavis, Conner is going to be a solid college LB. However, he is currently LB priority 4-5 in the 2015 class. I think Conner will be 2015's Brady Taylor, an Ohio kid that want to play for the good guys, but doesn't get an offer until 1-2 targets say "no thanks" to Meyer and Co.

+3 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Hey Birm,

I notice our old buddy Miles has just recently crystal-balled Austin Clark to Tennessee.  Would you agree that the Vols are the school to beat, and if so, how hard will it be to beat them? 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Buckeyes made a big impression on Clark and his family and he said he'd absolutely be comfortable and content at Ohio State, that his parents had all their "questions" about OSU answered yesterday and are on board if chooses the Buckeyes, etc. That's all I know, I know - and most of you should by now - that relationships come down to relationships almost without question, so Warinner and Meyer just need to keep cultivating that with Clark and his family.

Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

Urban and staff are really shooting for the stars this class.Hopefully some of the top kids will decide sooner rather then later so we can get in on all top Ohio kids before they start to feel scorned and commit elsewhere. I feel Baker and Hilliard should be given the red carpet treatment until they decide.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

+2 HS
kmp10's picture

How long will Conner be okay with being Urban Meyer's second or third choice? I mean, is it wise for the staff to continue to put off a talent like Conner, a 4 star Columbus kid who obviously wants to be a Buckeye, while continuing to woo higher rated players who don't seem to have the same affinity for Ohio State? It's just a feeling, but Conner seems primed to be one of those under appreciated players who wears that chip on his shoulder at the next level and excels beyond what is expected. I'd hate to see OSU lose out on a kid who very much wants to be here while waiting on a few others who are just as likely to go elsewhere as to Ohio State. I'm not calling into question Coach Meyer's recruiting strategy / ability… I'm just saying that Conner feels like that special combination of talent and Buckeye wannabe, and before too long he might start to get offended (i.e. pissed) that he's being put on hold while Meyer looks for a prettier girl to take to the dance.

+8 HS
Buckabroad's picture

Agree with this. Conner seems like a great pick-up at ILB. Would hate to see him sign with the competition and blow-up.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

+8 HS
sivaDavis's picture

I havent won 2 national titles so I'm not going to question Urban but I always felt like those 4 star rated Columbus kids who would commit to Ohio State on the spot were always worth a spot in the recruiting class because they seem to be the ones that would buy into the culture and know the rivalries and what is expected of them. For example, Conner might not be better than Holland out of Florida rating or skill wise but whose to say he wouldn't or couldn't become better than him if they both committed to OSU or at least be on the same level with him. Some kids know the culture of Ohio State and some learn it. Some doesn't always buy in. Just my thoughts. I think Conner would come in day 1 and work his tail off to try and get into the starting rotation or at least the 2 deep just because of how much he seems he wants to be a Buckeye. Hopefully they evaluate him some more and see how good he could become.

Mean streak + Buckeye passion + 6'3 225 = Great things

"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

+5 HS
stcburn's picture

Couldn't agree more I want Conner and he wants to be a Buckeye. He's the type of kid with heart and would be a great representative of tOSU. Make him a Buckeye, I don't want to see him kicking ass somewhere else.

+6 HS
Colerain 2004 G.O.A.T.'s picture

100% Conner might not run a 40 or jump as high as some of these more highly rated out of state kids.But he is the type of kid who will become ALL-B1G and have his best games against *ichigan,MSU,and PSU. The type of kid that if we let him go to a rival school he will show up twice as mean when we face off against him.He isnt the only Ohio kid that has a ton of talent being slow played either. This year has really been a head scratcher for me so far. Hopefully we reel in these big fish so we do not get left standing by the dock with a stringer full of blue gills.I have faith in our staff but I have a special place in my heart for homegrown hardworking blue collar Ohio kids.

I speak the truth but I guess that's a foreign language to yall.~~Lil Wayne

+8 HS
moopdawg's picture

Agree 100%.  Hope we lock down Ohio and that we keep our state and our program special.

+3 HS
cdub4's picture

I agree on hard working kids. They do have offers to Hilliard and Baker, two blue collar Ohio kids, so Urban is definitely offering in state.

bucknut8's picture

Just because he has offered the top 2 guys in state dosnt really mean he is offering in-state guys. Those are no brainers. I mean u would be dumb not to 

#Buckeyes

Eph97's picture

I'm sort of coming around to Tressel's philosophy of locking down Ohio. It ensured a steady, gauranteed pipeline and really hurt Michigan. A little bit of Florida and PA recruits thrown in. The talent was there to beat the elite teams those teams lost to (Florida, USC, LSU, Texas) since a lot of those guys made the pro's. The unimaginative/conservative playcalling on offense which left the defense on the field way too long did them in.

It will be interesting to see for sure if the upgraded talent Urbs is bringing in will be enough to overcome the Ohio talent now going to UM, MSU, etc.

 

+4 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Regarding Conner and the number of LBs we would take ... I'd rather overextend on LB as disappointing as that position has been lately. It sure seems like we are taking a lot of H type receivers. There is only so much room and so many footballs for guys like Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson, Curtis Samuel, Johnnie Dixon, etc. 

+4 HS
Buckabroad's picture

This is a good point. We must make sure that our LB issues get fixed. Four LBs in this class would not be unreasonable imo. If we take four, I feel that we should try and sign Conner quickly. Also, we should try to bring Sh'mar Kilby-Lane and Jerome Baker (both extremely talented guys) on board as soon as we can. These ships otherwise could sail for other harbors. As so often with 5-star guys, we will have to grind it out for Hilliard and hope for the best.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

Buckeye06's picture

It's easy for us to say "we should bring in 4 LBers."  However, top rated 4* and 5* kids don't always want to go to a school that just brought in the top LBer haul in the country last year.  Not saying OSU won't get theirs, but playing a lot of 4-2-5 will not warrant having 12 LBers on the roster at all times. 

My devil's advocate feelings towards that.  I think if we stick to a base 4-3, then having 10-12 isn't a big deal, but taking 4 a year is well over that average (although as we have seen with transfers injuries and problems those numbers can dwindle quickly)

Buckabroad's picture

That is a pretty good point, too. Still, for this year at least, I think 4 would be justifiable. The LB play has not been up to OSU standards lately imo and with RDS gone (and Curtis Grant soon to be gone), an injury bug could leave us short. Adding Conner would give us another good ILB prospect in the future. It indeed will be interesting to see if we use a 4-3 base or more of a 4-2-5 on D this year. If the latter prevails, I have to agree that it would be hard to argue your point.  

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

Ahh Saturday's picture

Not sure what the deal is with Daniels. The legacy of an OSU football player, grew up in Ohio playing football, has an early offer, and he names Auburn his leader?  What gives?

+3 HS
Eph97's picture

Yeah that's weird. Maybe karma for grabbing Dante Booker, whose dad played at Auburn? I'll take that trade though.

ab1993's picture

I don't get why we haven't offered Conner. He's now rated the fourth best ILB in the class in the composite rankings, and all our other LB prospects are OLBs.

Class of '16

+5 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Birm, do we need a leader to emerge in this recruiting class?  With so many of our targets looking to go down to the wire how difficult or different is this class forming verses last years. I know we only had a couple of more commits at this time last year, but those that were committed seemed much more vocal and involved in the "process".  Your thoughts?

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

That's great news on Clark - we could use another commitment or four very soon.

+1 HS
Danify's picture

I will continue to say this ... Nick Conner remains me of Chris Borland. Dude who will lead the defense from the middle and put his heart on the line for the Buckeyes.

buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks Birm.  Love to have Clark sign with the Buckeyes.  I think Nick Conner will be here if he remains available.  I don't see how we get all three of are wish list linebackers.  I think we'll be lucky to get two of the three, making Conner' s the third.  I know I'm late here but I do have a life other than football recruiting (Golf).

Buckeye in Texas

Bolt's picture

Still loling at that kid's reaction from the stands in the AJ Harris video.

bucknut8's picture

I think Conner needs offered asap. Kid is a baller & wants to be a buckeye. He has a passion for OSU. Sometimes the kid that is not as highly rated & with the passion of being a Buckeye turns out to be better than that 4/5 star prospect. And Conner actually is 4 star guy. Taking 4 LBs in this class isnt a bad choice. K-Lane, Hilliard, Baker & Conner. I just feel like not offering Conner will bite us in the ass where he will go to a school like MSU and haunt us for several years. Conner is a stud 

#Buckeyes

NuttyBuckeye's picture

Totally agree about Conner.  He reminds me of a Borland and Speilman type player.  May not be the most talented LB, but he has a nose for the ball.  Offer the young man!!

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

You can take the man out of Ohio, but you cannot take the Ohio out of the man. Go Bucks!!