Recruiting Notebook: Herman Visits Kirk, Buckeyes Offer Middle School DB

By John Brandon on May 18, 2014 at 9:00a
Ohio State offered Tyreke Johnson, an 8th-grader.

Tyreke Johnson, middle school phenom (Student Sports photo)


It's May and it's a weekend, so Ohio State coaches were busy on the recruiting trail. Tom Herman stopped in on one of the country's top wide receivers, Urban Meyer welcomed a pair of prospects – including one of Ohio's best – to Columbus and, oh yeah, Ohio State offered a safety, which is no big deal, but this safety is in middle school.

herman checks in on kirk

Herman stopped in Arizona on Friday to visit elite wide receiver Christian Kirk, who the Buckeyes continue to make a priority for the class. Kirk visited Ohio State at the beginning of March and was very impressed with what Ohio State had to offer.

While Texas A&M remains the favorite in the eyes of most, but Kirk's recruitment may be a bit more open than most think. Kirk has four more visits planned for this month, stopping at Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn at the end of May. He has also stated that he plans to make a return trip to Columbus for an official visit in the fall.

Ohio State continues to have a good shot with Christian, but securing an elite signal caller would go a long way in his recruitment as well as the recruitment of many others. Facility upgrades probably won't hurt either.

Buckeyes offer middle-schooler

Jacksonville's Trinity Christian is quite the loaded football program. With several elite 2015 kids including Jeff Holland, Kevin Tolliver and Ben Edwards and even an incoming freshman with 11 college offers already, they're obviously doing something right.

The Buckeyes offered a member of that program Friday – 2018 safety Tyreke Johnson, joining LSU, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and others. While he's currently listed as a safety, potential for quite a bit more growth has to be taken into consideration - he's already 6-foot-1 and 175 lbs.

I'm personally not a huge fan of recruitment starting this early, but it's the way things are trending. The biggest aspect of recruiting kids this early that is interesting to me will be how firm the offers are. Will schools start re-evaluating prospects like Johnson from time to time and deem whether or not they are still deserving of the scholarship? Interesting to say the least, but it should be a nice heavyweight fight for Johnson's services over the next four years.

couple of big time visitors on campus

Top Ohio linebacker Justin Hilliard made another trip to Ohio State on Friday, accompanied by his parents. Pennsylvania defensive back Jordan Whitehead also made the journey to Columbus this weekend.

Hilliard's visit went very well and he headed back Friday evening, but plans to make a return trip in a couple of weeks. Hilliard spent some time bonding with freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who he will be staying with when he comes back. Hilliard will be releasing a top five in the near future, and Ohio State is expected to make the list. Notre Dame, Michigan, Iowa and Alabama are probably safe bets to be on the list as well. Hilliard has visited Ohio State several times and seems quite comfortable in Columbus, I continue to believe he winds up a Buckeye.

For Whitehead, the visit is his second to Ohio State since the start of the year in addition to a couple of visits last year. His recruitment is seemingly an Ohio State-Penn State battle, in which the Buckeyes will hope to bounce back against Franklin and Co. in a big way. More to come on these visits later.

The Buckeyes seem to be picking up a little bit of momentum as they continue to impress top prospects. Ohio State is right in the mix for a bunch of really elite talents, they're just waiting for that stubborn first domino to fall.


Comments Show All Comments

sharks's picture

When Urban promised to recruit like the SEC, this shouldn't have been what he meant.  If Pantoni has to watch Pop Warner film now, he's going to need a staff.

A man got to have a code...

+2 HS
Silver Bullet 10's picture

Hilliard, Kwon, Booker

+15 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Lee, Johnson, Berger, Bogard, Hubbard, Kirby, Deberry, etc..... 

+4 HS
Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

Isn't the 2015 class for PSU full? How can the battle for Whitehead be OSU vs PSU? 

+1 HS
WesPatterson23's picture

Apparently they are going to oversign and cut the less "talented" currently on the team

+3 HS
Damonbuckeye's picture

PSU will have a up coming season similar to Arkansas last year where they'll be routinely getting smack around if they start cutting guys who stayed after ped-gate..

+2 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

goes to show how much Franklin values loyalty

ronbizi's picture

I'm personally not a huge fan of recruitment starting this early, but it's the way things are trending.


I agree.  Still find it ridiculous to see 8th graders get offers. But if at least 5 other schools already have offered, what can you do?  Good news on the Kirk and Hilliard fronts.  Its great that these young guys help each other out so much in regards to McMillan hosting Hilliard.  Thank god we have 'Kwon on our team, he's bringing so much on and off the field!  GO BUCKS!

+6 HS
southbuc's picture

Doubt these are commitable offers. Seems like offers aren't always offers these days.  More like letters of intent than a contract. 

Chief B1G Dump's picture

I am going to triple stamp your double stamp In regards to offering an 8th grader. Almost all of the kids I played sports with, that were bigger and/or better than everyone in junior high either didn't grow anymore and/or were surpassed by kids. Also, there is A LOT of things that can happen to a kid in a high school career. Just not a fan of offering children. 

Good on Kirk though. That dude needs to be In the scarlet and gray!

+4 HS
BroJim's picture

Always a good thing when the parents visit OSU, Meyer has a way with them. 

I season my simple food with hunger

+5 HS
John Brandon's picture

it was actually his mom's first visit to Columbus from what I've heard, which is huge for the Bucks

lunker76's picture

offering an eighth grader, sad

+10 HS
brglr14's picture

agree. now were jumping the shark a bit.

I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


+2 HS
NoVA Buckeye's picture
Someone say jumping the shark?


The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

+1 HS
MAVBuck's picture

My son was born 7lbs 9oz and 22" long. He's still developing but appears to be very athletic for his age. Optimistic I'll be seeing some mail very soon.

+2 HS
avail31678's picture

Sorry, I've seen film.  Needs to work on footwork and balance.

+7 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Outstanding news John!  Sure hope we get Justin.  Would help to solidify the LB corps for years to come!!

Go Bucks!

+2 HS
OSUpawn's picture

I like how our elite players are great on and off the field. 

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+1 HS
Gametime's picture

Offering an 8th grader who's 6'1" 175lbs. - that kid is built like a grown man. It's not like they're offering 5'6" 125lb little Jimmy from round the way. I agree that the kids should allowed to be kids, but an offer isn't forcing them to grow up too soon, and lets face it - a lot of these kids are groomed to play football from an early age by their parents: diets, being held back a year so they develop more physically in their class, etc.

People are just monopolizing their advantages nowadays.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

+8 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

6'1" is tall for a grown man, but 175 is very skinny for that height. I'm much shorter 5'9" weigh about an athletic 180 and would probably be considered medium. If he packs on about 30 lbs, he could definitely be beastly.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
OSU069's picture

Sorry but 6'1" 175 is not "very skinny". Look at the top receivers each year on the recruiting rankings and you will see a lot of guys about that size. Obviously he needs to get a little bigger once he arrives in college but for an 8th grader that is outstanding. 

+5 HS
hit_the_couch's picture

It's skinny, especially since the guy is listed as a safety not a WR. He'll never play safety in college or pro at that weight; he'll definitely get thicker through the years but that tall and that weight is not 'manly.'

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

+1 HS
cdub4's picture

I don't have too much of a problem offering a 6'1 175 lb 8th grader....maybe he grows into a linebacker, and it probably isn't commitable anyways. I trust the staff.

John Brandon's picture

Let's say he grows a couple of inches and packs on weight, I can see him moving into the Darron Lee type role, which may be what the staff sees him as. Meyer loves big, fast athletes on defense and I think that's the idea here

brglr14's picture

I will buy this when we know the darron lee role and hes a big time play. until then......................


I dont know karate but i do know crazy and i'm not afraid to use it.


+1 HS
Homey1970's picture

I'm sold just on his arm least, in the picture on top.

+3 HS
zacisone's picture

Good read! Thanks John!


BuckeyeJ's picture

Love that his parents came with him, sounds more and more he likes what he is seeing and hanging out with Kwon is awesome as they can talk about playing together. 

+2 HS
JakeStevensIsSwag's picture

Whats the time line on Hilliards commitment? 

Buckeye fan from PA

John Brandon's picture

He'll take his official visits in the fall before any commitment

cinserious's picture

Having Hilliard's folks on campus with him will go along way with his recruitment. They'll be back for sure! I still get the feeling he's slightly favoring ND but the gap will continue to narrow. OSU v.s. ND is the real battle. TTUN comes in third, Iowa 4th and Alabama last out of his top 5.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

-2 HS
tdible2132's picture

You're entitled to that opinion, but it's worth noting that Birm feels Iowa and Bama are the biggest competition for Hilliard at this point.

+2 HS
John Brandon's picture

Ditto, Alabama visit went great and Iowa is always going to have a pull with his brother playing there. Notre Dame and Michigan are right in the mix as well

Ahh Saturday's picture

Iowa has his brother, and that's great, but I don't think it'll be enough to draw Hilliard away from the big boys.  Between UM and ND, there is a similar distance, comparable academics, and ND has the catholic connection, but it doesn't matter because he's going to neither.  This comes down to Bama v Buckeyes, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Saban steal him in the end, although his friendship with McMillan is encouraging.

+4 HS
BuckeyeJ's picture

I wonder if he is close to any of the other players from the other teams like he is with kwon? That could factor big time.

cinserious's picture

When its all boiled down, Hilliard has a lot more in common with Ohio State than with Alabama, and I'm not just talkin' proximity. Good kid, good grades, quality family, Catholic school. He can get a high quality education here in Ohio with unlimited possibilities after football and won't have to look over his shoulder for incoming 5* recruits who might threaten his schollie like he would at 'Bama. Hilliard and his family don't need the bribes and the cars like the poor Southern folk who will sell themselves out to the highest bidder regardless of how crappy the  degree from said school is or the likelihood said player gets 'coerced' out of the program to make room for new potential.

OSU is far from SEC-standard ethics and Hilliard and his family know it. That's why if its a choice between staying home and Alabama, he ABSOLUTELY chooses The Ohio State University.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

CarolinaBuck's picture

I love Urban, but an 8th grader?

+4 HS
KBonay's picture

Jordan Whitehead


+5 HS
NYBUCKEYE's picture

Sign that hair up today!

+2 HS
CincyBuckeye31's picture

Hopefully the Chef can help seal the deal with Hilliard,  We need to keep this kid at home!

+1 HS
ScarletNGrey01's picture

Interesting information, thanks John.  There is a video on the Spin Network where one of their analysts pontificated that buckeye fans should not panic since Urban always seems to wait for the top prospects and closes late really well, thought the bucks might end up with a top five class.  I hope and believe he's right about that.

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

Zimmy07's picture

That gif makes my face hurt in sympathy.  Ouch!

thunderhawks51's picture

When is the next possible commitment and from who?

OSUCLAY519's picture

Thanks, John! Good read and hopefully we will get Kirk and Hilliard at OSU!

FitzBuck's picture

When I read we offered an 8th grader I started thinking of Lane Kiffin.  For this reason alone we shouldn't offer 8th graders. 

Seriously I want to see film on this kid.  He must fly/be a freak of an athlete or why get attention from LSU and OSU?

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

Jpfbuck's picture

I am sure this Johnson kid is stud, but if what I have read on the internet is right this kid is 14 years old,,,yes in 8th grade but still has 2 birthdays to go before he gets a drivers license

sorry but for me this is a very sad day for our program

is it in any way in the best interest of a 14 year old to be hounded by grown men a full 5 years before he can even commit, that means he recruitment process could be longer than his career here

that to me is crossing a line I never thought I would hear from OSU

I guess once more the rhetoric of guys like Meyer mean nothing

want whats best for this kid?? then let him be a kid dammit

color me disgusted to be a fan today

I wish only the best for him and if he chooses to go somewhere else then damn straight good for him

Meyer et al should be ashamed today

-2 HS
sivaDavis's picture

It's the direction college football is heading. Sad or not, if the coaching staff feels like they need to do this to get a recruiting advantage, they will do it. We offered a freshman in high school in Danny Clark...he was 6 months out of 8th grade at the time. People weren't freaking out about that one. Not that big of a difference IMO. And look at the kids offer list. Pretty good. We weren't the first to offer him and definitely won't be the last. It's like that Dylan Moses kid whose supposed to be the next "phenom". 

"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

John Brandon's picture

Great point, and to be honest the Clark offer should be viewed more skeptically than Johnson's just in principal because Clark is a QB. We know Johnson will be a great athlete with good football skills, but you don't have a great idea about how a freshman QB is going to develop. In Clark's case he's already huge and the starting QB at one of the top programs in the state so it's a pretty safe bet that he'll turn out pretty good, but in general QB's are much harder to offer early

Jpfbuck's picture

I guess I missed the Clark one being in 9th grade to me both are equally bad,,,,frankly don't care what everyone else is doing, let LSU offer kids when they are that young and if we lose out I don't care, plenty of other kids around to offer when they are 16+

I just think making offers to any kid before they are a soph is just bad practice as you really have no idea what your getting, sure the kid may be a physical specimen, but how entitled will that kid be 5-6 years later after you kissed his backside for over half a decade to get him

and the potential for the kid to be screwed up over inflated expectations etc rather than simply allowing the kid to mature some before you anoint him the 2nd coming to me is just smart practice and is looking out for a young person's well being

to me there is zero upside to this and nothing but down side, to me this is 1 step away from stage moms with child acting stars or the moms who push their little girls into beauty pageants

think about yourself at 14, if Meyer came and told you hey you want a scholly to OSU, would you even understand what that meant in terms of commitment, moving/relocating,,,seriously the kid is 14, where does it stop? do we start building relationships and make offers to kids in grade school next because the kid is 5'11" and weighs 150 and runs a 4.8 forty in 5th grade???

I would honesty almost prefer we miss out on this kid and that al of these "early offers" fail to land him, would serve them right for engaging and rewarding parents who want to engage in child exploitation...



livinthedream's picture

JPFBUCK - I couln't agree more with this last comment.  "Child exploitation" is a good way to phrase it.

Now for the part all of you and especially many on the 11W staff don't want to read.. If the NCAA wants to promote itself as truly being for the 'student atlete' then maybe, just maybe, they actually act like it.  Try protecting ALL student athletes at all levels.  Maybe they put in place some legislation that says a kid has to reach a certain point in their life before they can be recruited.  Age of 16 or after the end of their sophmore season seems like a decent point.  Plenty of time to pump up a kid.   I know that means many of you think they would be doing more of that controlling thing you all hate, but isn't protecting the student athlete what their charter is supposed to be about?

-1 HS
OSU069's picture

So giving him a scholarship offer that he has probably been dreaming about getting his whole life is hounding him? I'm sorry but we have no information that Meyer calls him all the time and actively recruits him while he is an 8th grader. I also prefer to not recruit such young kids but I don't think there is really anything wrong with offering him a scholarship and only talking to him occasionally for a year or two. I'm sure Urban Meyer feels terribly ashamed for doing this heinous action. 

Toilrt Paper's picture

There should be an NCAA rule against recruiting Middle School kids.. It's ridiculous to recruit 9th graders. Who is the NCAA afraid of?. 

NoVA Buckeye's picture

I bet by the time I die, kids'll be getting offers out of the womb

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.