Hilliard Impressed With Buckeyes, Sets Recruiting Timetable

By Kyle Rowland on June 1, 2014 at 11:44a
49 Comments

It’s a busy weekend at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. No, the Ohio State Buckeyes haven’t started fall camp two months early. Nike has taken over the home of the Buckeyes for its summer camp series and the Elite 11 quarterback camp.  

It’s a who’s who of high school talent, with Damien Harris, Justin Hilliard and Danny Clark among the hundreds of attendees. Hilliard, from Cincinnati St. Xavier, is one of the nation’s top linebacker recruits and the No. 2 overall recruit in the state. He recently narrowed down his list of choices to Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, Iowa and Michigan.

In a month, he will don one of those five schools colors.

“I’m kind of waiting it out,” Hilliard said Sunday. “When I make a decision, I want to be 100 percent sure, because I don’t want to de-commit. It’s pretty structured now because I narrowed it down from a top 15 to a top 10 to a top five. So, hopefully, I keep visiting all these schools and make a decision in late June or early July.”

Two main factors are involved in the equation: no distractions for his senior season and the ability to recruit fellow Class of 2015ers to his college choice. Hilliard’s main goal in the next month is to get his mother on each campus – and to avoid making a rash decision.

“Whenever I see someone commit right after a visit, I feel like they’re making [an emotional decision],” he said. “I don’t believe in that. After every visit, I’ll have that moment, ‘This could be the school I want to go to.’ So I try and wait a couple days to think everything out and talk to my parents.”

All five schools are on even footing right now, Hilliard said. But an undisclosed top two are where his decision will be made. The remainder of his summer will be spent attending camps, including the Rivals Challenge and “hopefully, The Opening,” according to Hilliard.

Friday Night Lights could also be on his itinerary. Hilliard, listed at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, said defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Luke Fickell wants to work him out. At this point, Hilliard is settled and calm about the recruiting process. He and his dad have visited the top five schools multiple times and developed relationships with coaches and possible future teammates.

“We have a lot of information,” Hilliard said. “I know the coaches very well at every school. Now it comes down to building relationships with some of the coaches and players and finding out about some of the little things that give schools an edge.”

Those little things, as described by Hilliard, are relationships, how current players feel about coaches and the campus atmosphere. He said academics and playing time aren’t included because they are far from small details – they fit in the major category. 

Hilliard speaks of valuing education, so much so that he’s already gotten to know some professors at Ohio State. He’s also developed relationships with Ryan Shazier and Raekwon McMillian, while Fickell, Urban Meyer and Kerry Coombs are the coaches involved in his recruitment.

Much has been said about the Buckeyes’ early recruiting woes – they only have three commitments, one of which (Eric Glover-Williams) is in question, and are ranked in the 50s nationally. Hilliard’s noticed the headlines and sensed Ohio State’s full-court press.  

“I definitely feel that. They’re Ohio State, so they can pick and choose the guys they want,” he said. “They take a long process through evaluating. They know they can get the best players.”

The Buckeyes are hoping one of those is Hilliard. 

Notes:

On the depth chart at potential landing spots: “That’s definitely not a big thing. My goal is to try and get to the NFL. If you aren’t talented enough to start in college, you probably aren’t going to have a good shot at getting to the NFL.”

On Ohio State’s facilities: “It’s crazy. I know they have new turf at Ohio State and a new locker room. Ohio State and Alabama both have waterfalls in their locker room just because they can. The facilities are getting better because everyone wants to get an edge on other schools. It’s pretty cool.”

On if he pays attention to how schools develop NFL players: “Definitely. I look at how many players they’ve sent to the NFL, how talented my position coach is at doing his job and how the players feel about how [the coaches] are doing. Also a big thing is the strength coach. You guys know recruiting is a big thing and your position coach will be out recruiting, but the strength coach will always be there getting you better.”

On the hoopla surrounding recruiting and the cool perks: “It kind of sucks now, because I’ve become accustomed to it because I’ve built such great relationships with the coaches. Being able to have Coach Meyer and coach Saban’s number in my phone, that’s something I’ve gotten used to, but it’s still crazy to think about.

“There’s a good and a bad side. It gives exposure to my teammate. The fans also show a lot of love on Twitter, but there’s a bad side. Fans always tell you you’re the best, and you just have to stay humble. But you have to have confidence that you are the best.”

49 Comments

Comments

sivaDavis's picture

Also a big thing is the strength coach. You guys know recruiting is a big thing and your position coach will be out recruiting, but the strength coach will always be there getting you better.”

Well I hope he has met Coach Mick and has witnessed what he does for players. 

"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

+6 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Big feather in the cap for Ohio State here!  Got to think we have the inside track if he feels this highly about the strength & conditioning coach.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

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

buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks for the update Kyle.  He sure would look good in scarlet and gray. 

Buckeye in Texas

cinserious's picture

Also a big thing is the strength coach. You guys know recruiting is a big thing and your position coach will be out recruiting, but the strength coach will always be there getting you better.”

BOO-YA! Micky Marotti got this one in the bag! Best in the country.

Edit: my bad on the double post Siva. That quote stood out for me as well.

Gone ham, be back soon...

+4 HS
hetuck's picture

But the Alabama strength staff is good for emergency loans. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+9 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Hey man it's the SEC motto - 

 

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

+1 HS
sivaDavis's picture

Haha not a problem brotha. It was a great part of the article that stood out to me as well. Wonder if he has met Coach Mick yet.

"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

SilverBullet-98's picture

I want Justin Hilliard to OHIO STATe more than any other recruit.

I hope it goes are way.

"The Past Builds the Future"

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I agree Silver. We need to get more of the Cincy boys to OSU and quit letting ND, Bama or TTUN getting their paws on them. We've lost some good ones. OSU needs a pipeline to the entire city of Cincinnati, IMHO.

I'm surprised that Larry Johnson isn't more involved with Hilliard's recruitment.

One other thing I would like to add is how refreshing it is to hear how thoughtful Hilliard is. He doesn't seem like a prima donna, like some others.

 

 

+1 HS
cinserious's picture

Urban himself and a couple of his coaches like Warriner, Coombs, and (maybe Hinton?) have a strong Cincy connection, it just takes a few years to develop it. Remember, OSU is going from zero footprint in SW Ohio under Tressel. While LJ is a strong recruiter, his footprint is in the East Coast, Virginia, MD, PA regions.

Gone ham, be back soon...

BuckeyeJ's picture

Love how he is gonna commit and help recruit!!!! Relationship with Kwon and Shazier is a big plus! Already talking to professors! Hope it's to the good guys

+1 HS
osu407's picture

He seems like a great kid with a wonderful perspective. 

+3 HS
Citrus's picture

He seems well-spoken and prudent in his decision-making. He articulated the proper factors in making a wise choice. The strength coach line stuck out to me as well. I think this one goes to the good guys.

+4 HS
allinosu's picture

I've read about how much the educational part is important to him and his family. One would think this would work against Alabama. Just a rumor so whatever but the talk is his father is big big ND fan and Justin and his mother are for OSU.

+2 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Alabama is actually a very good school. Huge misconception out there that it's a bunch of backwoods southerners. Not the case at all. Ranked as the No. 36 public institution in the country.

osu407's picture

But which is more important the perception or the reality?  For getting a job I would assume the perception is more important. 

+1 HS
allinosu's picture

Where is 36th compare with ND is what point I was trying to make. Working against them is not eliminating them.

+1 HS
swainpm's picture

Not supporting the SEC by any means but too many of our fans often spout off on message boards about academic superiority without knowing the facts. Vandy, Florida, Georgia, Bama, AtM, Auburn and Missou all are quite good academic programs. Sadly Florida is now ranked just ahead of tOSU according to US News & WR. However, on the whole the BIG is far superior. If Hilliard is serious about his schooling he has done his HW...ND #18, UM #28, tOSU #52, UI #73, Bama #86. Hopefully the 86, distance and Satan will be enough to keep this young man home.

+4 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

I don't put much stock in USN&WR numbers. On every other ranking Alabama comes in much lower.

On a composite of all of the major ranking services Alabama comes in at #67 among BCS schools (10th in the SEC). The lowest ranked school in the B1G is Nebraska at #65. To give an idea of the gap the next lowest B1G school is #32 Iowa.

unknownmusketeer's picture

I have recently had a LOT of discussions about US News & World Report rankings. Put simply, a lot of information that they use to rank universities is wrong.

i.e., to do what they can to raise their place in the rankings by, for example, spending lots of money on things the U.S. News formula deems important or by aggressively increasing the size of their applicant pool so they can turn away a higher percentage of their applicants, thus showing themselves to be “more selective” and thereby raising their rank. Moreover, some schools simply cheat. They actually lie when reporting numbers to U.S. News.  Claremont-McKenna College is one of the most recent colleges to make it into the news for cheating the system, when it reported last year that a senior administrator had been sending U.S. News false SAT figures for years. 

...

A very substantial chunk (22.5 to 25 percent) of an institution’s ranking comes not from any hard data but from a “reputational” measure, in which U.S. News solicits “peer assessments” from college presidents, provosts, and admissions directors, as well as input from high-school counselors

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/09/your-annual-reminde...

In many ways, the ranking parallels college football rankings.

+2 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Yep it's very much a case of GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out), but the magazine has done a strong job of marketing it's rankings over the past 30 years so people pay far too much attention to them.

 

buckeyedude's picture

I wonder if any of the schools happen to campaign for higher rankings and/or slips some Benjamins to US News and World report in order to secure a higher ranking? Maybe I'm just a conspiracy theorist? I'm sure a large organization like US News and World Report has the highest standards of integrity and would not allow themselves to be bought and corrupted.

 

 

KBonay's picture

Some pics from NFTC, from our 11W crew

 

+3 HS
KBonay's picture

Gets his invite to the Opening

+4 HS
Oxley's picture

He seems like he has a really good head on his shoulders.

+4 HS
PoKeY21's picture

I think he's a Buckeye. If I had to guess his undisclosed top 2 are either OSU and Iowa which I believe we would have the bag or OSU and Bama which is a little tougher but if those are the 2 OSU holds the edge in academics and strength coach, with nfl talent being basically even. And I'm saying Hilliard is the #1 recruit in Ohio, not number 2.

When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass - Robert Knight

+2 HS
jpbuckeye's picture

I am guessing OSU and ND.

PoKeY21's picture

Ya I read in another article that it was ND and OSU as his final 2 too. Just can't see it though. I was thinking Iowa because of his brother and Bama cuz of the NFL production they have produced lately at LB. I just don't see what ND has to offer that isn't trumped by Bama or OSU tenfold. Iowa is a wildcard where he could start immediately and has family their. So I'm thinking those 3 not ND, unless you know of something ND had to offer that I'm forgetting?

When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass - Robert Knight

buckguyfan1's picture

Justin Gray Box Hillard. 

+3 HS
osubuck57's picture

Gotta say, I had zero feeling he was staying in-state. Thought it was all Notre Dame. Never discount Saban and his staff either, but feeling better about our chances now!!

SCOTTC.

+2 HS
BuckNutzGasMan's picture

If Hilliard and Gibson commit we end up with the second best class. They will lead '15 class to greatness. If they don't we probably end up around 10th.

FROMTHE18's picture

not trying to be a debby downer, but Gibson to Auburn appears to be on the upswing. That being said, Id love Waller, if not Im fine with Burrow. Also, given the limitations for the size of this class, it'll be very difficult to be a top 2 class unless OSU lands a half a dozen 'five stars'. Im expecting a top 5, but top 2 may be pushing it, FWIW. 

sivaDavis's picture

Not doubting his ability but if TG does his homework, he will see a young duo in Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson, along with Sean White. Same with LSU and Brandon Harris. Does he want to sit for a few years, say 3 and then start? Don't really understand that. Hope he gets up to see Columbus definitely, but won't be mad if he doesn't. 

"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
EwanJobi's picture

Also, given the limitations for the size of this class, it'll be very difficult to be a top 2 class unless OSU lands a half a dozen 'five stars'.

Or goes the cool kid route and oversigns an extra half of a class.

wyatt's picture

I want Hilliard at OSU because (besides being a great football player) seems so intelligent and knowledgeable about what he wants and sees through the  BS schools can give out. Sounds like he can be a leader on defense....reminds me of Chris Spielman. 

+2 HS
avail31678's picture

So he secretly has two favorites....and then he says how crazy it is to have Saban and Meyer's number in his phone....I really think this is a Bama and OSU battle.  (I know I'm doing some inferring)

+2 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great info Kyle!  Can't wait to see the gray boxes start to appear!

Go Bucks!!

sivaDavis's picture

https://twitter.com/jbook37/status/473220016989822976

The link is ($) 

Anyway I'm on my phone at work so I can't embed it but says Hilliard told Bill Kurelic he was recruiting Damien Harris and Jashon Cornell. Now let's just hope it was for the good guys. I think those 3 right there could be leaders that bring in even more elite talent. Those two on the defensive side and Harris on the offensive side. Hope Christian Kirk takes notice. 

"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

+4 HS
Oldschoolbuck's picture

In addition to the strength coach (seems like a no-brainer with Mick here), he mentioned the position coach's ability to put players in the NFL. Whatever we fans may think of Luke's DC abilities (though much of the soft play the last two years may have been on Withers, so we're told), the list of Buckeye LBs currently in the NFL is: AJ Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Nate Williams, Etienne Sabino, *Ryan Shazier (R) and *John Simon (I put asterisks by these guys because one is a rookie, the other didn't really play LB too much at tOSU). I am impressed with this young man - he has certainly done his due diligence!

 

Knarcisi's picture

“Whenever I see someone commit right after a visit, I feel like they’re making [an emotional decision],” he said. “I don’t believe in that. After every visit, I’ll have that moment, ‘This could be the school I want to go to.’ So I try and wait a couple days to think everything out and talk to my parents.”

Pretty mature outlook ...

 

+1 HS
holtzy's picture

The more he talks, the more I like this kid.

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Right on Holtzy I hope he makes a very wise decision and comes our way 

Codeezy's picture

No matter where he lands, the decision will be very thought out and personal. This is a very easy kid to root for wherever he goes. It's a plus that he's a beast on the field. I'm sure he will make the right decision for him and his future, wherever it may be. 

Byaaaahhh's picture

I like what I'm hearing. He's saying almost everything right. The one thing is this: 

If you aren’t talented enough to start in college, you probably aren’t going to have a good shot at getting to the NFL.

Simply not true. You're coming in as a freshman and you'll have veterans in front of you. Not starting, and even getting a redshirt, doesn't mean you won't be talented enough for the NFL. I hope that this is just a mis-worded thought. It probably is, I mean it doesn't make sense for him to be so mature about everything else and then this. I might be overthinking it.

buckeyedude's picture

I definitely think you're overthinking it, Byaaaaaahhh. I believe Justin is right. If you can't start [by your senior year] in college, how on earth do you play in the NFL? I think we can safely infer that he wasn't talking about just starting in one's freshmen year. As a football player, if you're riding the pines by your senior season, you better have a Plan B.

 

 

Byaaaahhh's picture

Hope that's the case. I don't think anyone expects a non-starter the entirety of their career to be in the NFL (Except Kenny G-- still crossing my fingers, big guy!) but I mean why even say that, then? I assumed he meant immediately, but yeah I could be wrong.

NuttyBuckeye's picture

I am sure Justin means that if you don't start at all in college, you can probably kiss an NFL career bye-bye.  He understands the talent in front of him, but he expects at some time to be a starter.

I love this young man's attitude, intelligence and choice of words in his interviews.  He will be a great man.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

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

+1 HS
jpbuckeye's picture

Did he mean starting as a Freshman or simply starting games in his college career?

 

Sorry for the redundant thought Dude. I went off half cocked. Should read all comments before adding my own. :-)

Drew2006's picture

It will down to Alabama and Ohio State. I hope he doesn't be like another Deshawn Wynn who went to Florida instead of OSU.

What's honored in the country will be cultivated there. -Plato