Recruiting Updates: Darrin Kirkland, Jr., Sterling Jenkins, Chandler Cox and More

By Jeremy Birmingham on April 15, 2014 at 3:30p

The spring game has come and gone and the Buckeyes are still sitting at three commitments for 2015, Penn State has 1,241 and the sky is literally falling. 

We expected a few possible commitments this weekend, it's true. They just didn't happen, but that's not to say they won't.

Dre'Mont Jones? He'll be a Buckeye (or I'll eat my shoe). Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane? I'm not fond of percentages but I'd be pretty shocked if he doesn't end up a Buckeye. I hate to beat a dead horse, but I must: patience is necessary. The Buckeyes' plan is the Buckeyes' plan, not yours, and certainly not mine. They are on track.

We'll discuss a few players who made the trip to Columbus this weekend and then we'll talk about a big possible turkey joining an already elite group of players visiting Ohio State this week.


The Buckeyes' chances with top prospects at linebacker have kept them — up to this point — in a holding pattern on a number of very talented regional players who have long hoped for an Ohio State offer. We've talked at length about Nick Conner, Anthony McKee and others inside Ohio's borders, but not as much about Indianapolis (Lawrence Central) native Darrin Kirkland, Jr. 

Kirkland visited Ohio State for the spring game, but it's hardly the first time he's been to campus after repeated visits in 2013. A 6-foot-2, 230-pounder with an impressive offer list, he's not yet gotten the call from the Buckeyes and it appears that he's decided he doesn't want to wait any longer. He's got offers from Penn State, Michigan, Tennessee and a host of others, but it appears that his decision is likely to come down to those three schools barring any last minute entry from Ohio State into his picking party. 

Could that happen still? Yes, according to Kirkland.

"Ohio State told me they love my film and everything about me," Kirkland told Eleven Warriors following the spring game. "Coach (Luke) Fickell and Coach (Kerry) Coombs said they'd be in this spring and we'll go from there."

The second-ranked player in Indiana (behind Penn State linebacker commitment Josh Barajas) has hoped for that offer for sometime, so let's see what happens.


We talked a bit last week about Sterling Jenkins, another key prospect who has narrowed down his schools to Ohio State and Penn State. This past weekend he visited both schools and as he said would be the case, he did not commit to either. A cerebral kid, Jenkins is one of the rare few that have not succumbed immediately to James Franklin's "je ne sais quoi," but that doesn't mean Ohio State is in a great spot to land him. In fact, I'd still put the Buckeyes squarely behind the Nittany Lions, but he was happy to get a chance to check out the Buckeyes coaching style up close on Friday and was particularly interested in Ed Warinner's "game face."

The longer his recruitment goes, the better for Ohio State, period. 


In a recruiting class that's likely to be less than 25 players, you might expect Urban Meyer and his staff to pinpoint positions of need and focus there, but that's not always the case. In some cases, you want a football player, and that's what Chandler Cox, from powerhouse Apopka (Fla.) High School is. He's an old-fashioned guy who can play quarterback, fullback, tightend, linebacker, whatever. 

Cox and his family visited Ohio State this past Friday, and he was outwardly expressive in his enjoyment about the trip. 

Chandler Cox was all smiles during his weekend visits
Urban Meyer with Apopka (Fla.) star Chandler Cox.

"It was amazing," Cox told 11W. "I really loved it. The tradition they have there and the brotherhood they have as a team. They want to make you a man, and a leader, and I really liked that."

Cox had high expectations of what to expect at Ohio State.

"I knew I was going to love it," he said. "I know what kind of program it is. I didn't see much of the academic part of the school yet, but I am going to go back this summer."

Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida, Auburn, well...everyone has offered him, so he's a unique recruitment to watch despite some positional flexibility. 

Ohio State made some in-roads into Apopka last summer when they offered former quarterback Zack Darlington, who ended up signing with Nebraska. The Buckeyes have also offered 2015 offensive lineman Martez Ivey, a five-star talent for the Darters. 


Marcus Lewis, one of the nation's speediest defensive backs, visited Ohio State about a month ago and left Columbus with the Buckeyes as the leaders in his recruitment. Welp, things changed and changed quickly for the former Virginia Tech commitment, and in more ways than one.

Yesterday, Lewis replaced the Buckeyes with Florida at the top of his list and in case you missed it, he's also transferring to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior year. He's very close with Florida freshman defensive back Jalen Tabor and it's all over but the crying as far as his recruitment is concerned, at least that's the word on the street.



Two weekends ago, Woodbridge, Va. offensive lineman Matt Burrell visited Penn State with big defensive lineman Tim Settle. The Nittany Lions, obviously a thorn in the proverbial side right now, have since been a pretty regular occurrence on his "Twitter timeline," if you're into that sort of tea-leaf-reading. Last night I got word from a source in Virginia that Burrell is attempting to get to Columbus this weekend, possibly riding with Richmond linebacker Ricky DeBerry

If it happens, it's a major opportunity for Ohio State to steal back some momentum in Burrell's recruitment. Zach Smith and Larry Johnson, Sr. handle Ohio State's Virginia recruiting, and have done a nice job with Burrell up to this point, but the Penn State visit appears to have been sticking with him. Why?

"James Franklin does a good job speaking the kid's language and he really sells the campus lifestyle," a source close to Burrell shared with 11W. "Plus, kids have very short memory about the Paterno thing. The 2015 kids barely remember it."

More on this as it develops, but Ohio State has to be hoping to see him on campus this weekend.



Oxley's picture

Top notch reporting, as always. Thanks, Birm!

+2 HS
dwcbuckeye's picture

Great update as usual Birm.

Maybe it is just me, but all this PSU hoopla/Franklin lovefest is making me dislike that coach on a purely professional level (not personal).  Is this how a rivalry begins?

+7 HS
KBonay's picture

Is this how a rivalry begins?

I look more at things like 63-14.....

....and I'll just leave this here


+4 HS
buckeyestu's picture

Not to worry Birm, I have tremendous patience. Urban will bring in a very good class.

+2 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

So Birm, I probably should've waited 15 minutes instead of starting a thread in the recruiting forum, but have you heard anything about Wimbush?  Is his visit on?

+1 HS
m5987usus's picture

And also Alex just changed his pick for wimbush to the good guys, birm is wimbush trending back to osu?


Ahh Saturday's picture

Thanks as usual, Birm.  I guess if Wimbush makes the trip to Columbus soon, we'll all have a better idea of where the Buckeyes stand.  It'd be nice if Urban can get his head and heart properly aligned.

FROMTHE18's picture

I get that Florida is in the SEC, I get the draw of playing in warm weather…but what Florida is in terms of its reputation as a bunch of athletic speed demons/freakish athletes was created by Urban…just don't get how recruits from outside of Florida want to play for Muschamp when the guy who made Florida what it is today is coaching one of the top programs in the history of college football. 

+6 HS
BuckeyeJ's picture

Yep, kids tend to forget----cause any kid that thinks Flordia is good football didn't watch last year......

i trust in what the staff is doing, and hope Conner gets an offer

i had a conversation with a local guy that played at State, he is mad as hell at Franklin for not keeping LJ. 

+3 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Once LJ didn't get the head job, I think he was out the door whether Franklin wanted him or not.  But if Franklin ran him out of there, good.  It means he's a fool.

+2 HS
BuckeyeStrong2's picture

IIRC, there was an 11W article saying James Franklin tried twice to keep LJ on his staff, and obviously that worked out in OSU's favor. 

+2 HS
Crimson's picture

And people keep complaining that Urban can't get a win over Franklin.

+2 HS
osubuck57's picture

Chandler Cox is a interesting recruit. Wonder how hard Urban and company will go after him. Like that he plays multiple positions.


KevinJ's picture

Chandler Cox reminds me of a more athletic Zack Boren, high football IQ with a high motor, I hope we get this kid.


oregonianbuckeye's picture

First time I've read the name Tim Settle in a while. Anything new on that front? 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Visiting end of May prior to NFTC. Buckeyes will have to get a bit more aggressive in his recruitment. Same with Terry Beckner, Jr. 

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Thanks again, Birm. These articles are fantastic. Really appreciate all the work you put in.

Ahh Saturday's picture

Given the need at DT, it's hard to imagine that the staff hasn't been aggressive until now.  McLean's off the board.  What two DTs could they possibly have higher than Settle?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think they'd be thrilled to land Elijah Taylor and Christian Wilkins.

Ahh Saturday's picture

How do we stand with Elijah Taylor? It seems a lot of people have him going to ND.

jamesrbrown322's picture

It seems for some reason that Taylor to ND has picked up a big head of steam. Will this be another case of a Cincy kid who gets away?

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

KevinJ's picture

J. Birm I'm surprised you didn't mention Van Jefferson as a possible upcoming commit. I know he didn't visit last weekend but from what I've read he's coming back this weekend.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Waiting on confirmation for a return, if that happens, then we'll get more into detail there.

d1145fresh's picture

@Birm and Others in the know... is Ohio State holding a NFTC camp again this year (I thought they did last year). I feel like that is a great opportunity to get kids to come visit and do a camp at the same time.

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Yes, June 1st (NFTC) and 2nd (Elite 11.) I'll be in Ohio and on campus for both of those days.

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

Birm, this is probably a noob question, but are these camps open to public spectators?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

No, the Nike camps are not. Some of Ohio State's camps, like on the 8th-9th of June for example, are however.

Ball-Z-Buck's picture

I keep hearing how well we are recruiting the East Coast......and then the recruits sign with PSU.

+1 HS
skid21's picture

No one has signed yet but I agree that the Johnson addition hasn't really shown itself with the East coast recruits.

+2 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

James Franklin's "je ne sais quoi,"

Sorry, but that line immediately made me think of this



"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+6 HS
DC-town's picture

Great update Birm, thanks for the hard work.  Who do you think the most likely o-line commits at this time?  It seems like that's the biggest unit we 'need' to address in this class

'Piss excellence' -RB

DC-town's picture

I've heard the target number for this class is four, but oline and DT are my biggest concern (although we should all trust in Meyer)

'Piss excellence' -RB

BeijingBucks's picture

Cox pic made me blush. Get that guy a mansierre!



None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+1 HS
rufio's picture

It's called a bro!

+1 HS
Crimson's picture

I prefer mansierre!


+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Penn State is doing well, and it's nice that the current roster and incoming recruits can get away from the scandal's shadow. And I know we lost a couple of head-to-head battles with PSU, but it still seems to me that OSU is chasing a higher rated player (on average) than PSU. So we will be waiting longer is my point.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

DBell8's picture

Birm, it seems to me that this year we are putting more of our eggs into the big recruits baskets instead of just going for the guys we know we can get. Is that accurate or has it just been a funky start to the 2015 recruitment?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Definitely accurate. Ohio State has to recruit with Bama and FSU to beat Bama and FSU. That's the goal.