Buckeye Targets Shine Bright at NFTC Columbus

By John Brandon on June 1, 2014 at 2:00p
via @TheOpening2014

Ohio State hosted one of Nike's popular NFTC football camps today outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. One of the benefits of being a major program in a big city like Columbus is getting to host camps like these, which draw elite prospects from all over America (and even Canada). Damien Harris, Jashon Cornell, Justin Hilliard and many others were in attendance today, trying to earn invitations to Nike's prestigious camp The Opening.

Some of the prospects came to Columbus yesterday and visited the campus before competing today, all part of what was a great weekend of recruiting for Ohio State.

Damien Harris sits out camp due to injury

The nation's top running back, Damien Harris, was unfortunately able to compete at the camp due to minor elbow surgery, but it didn't stop him from traveling Columbus to take in the festivities.

In the above video Harris updates his timeline and talks his top schools. While many expected him to be a guy that would wait until signing day to commit, he's now saying that he hopes to possibly enroll early and would commit at some point in the fall.

He also hinted at a top eight list that will be coming out this week, you can expect Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky (the surprise school?), Notre Dame, Florida to probably make the list.

Without over-analyzing this interview too much, it sounds like the Buckeyes are in great shape and Michigan may be slipping judging by Harris' comments about new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. 247Sports reported yesterday that Ohio State "had a huge lead" for Damien Harris, though Harris responded on Twitter with this:

Regardless, the Buckeyes are in a good position for Harris as they continue to pursue him aggressively. After the event, Harris posted this to his Twitter:

Justin Hilliard continues to prove to be a huge domino in this class, and he could be the leader the Buckeyes are looking for. He is close with many of the other elite midwest prospects and is committing in late June or early July.

elite running backs high on ohio state

Harris wasn't the only top back in attendance today, Nyheim Hines and Mike Weber came to prove why they should be in the conversation among the top running backs in the country. Hines came to Ohio State from North Carolina for the weekend and had a great visit with the coaching staff yesterday before camping today.

Possible Hines to Ohio State conversation has picked up after his visit this weekend, and he would be a great fit in the Buckeye offense. We haven't heard his name much since the Buckeyes offered him back in November, but he can really play and following this weekend there seems to be a great deal of mutual interest between Ohio State and Hines. Hines rushed for 3,147 yards and 50 touchdowns last season, to go with over 600 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns through the air.

[Nyheim Hines Highlights]

Mike Weber was also in attendance and impressed. Steve Wiltfong of 247 spoke with Weber, who said that he has a top three of Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Wiltfong also said he got the sense that Ohio State was right there with Michigan State for Weber. Weber was also reportedly seen wearing Ohio State wristbands today.

Both Weber and Hines looked impressive at the camp:

prospects don't mind buckeyes' slow start

We've talked ad nauseam about the Buckeyes lack of commits at this point and if it could be a problem for their momentum. Well, a few of Ohio State's top targets have a 'glass half-full' view of the situation:

Darius Fullwood said he plans to commit on June 28th, one week after camping at Ohio State. He also had some great things to say about Larry Johnson today in this video and I expect him to be a Buckeye by the end of the month.

Jashon Cornell makes the trip to c'bus

The nation's No. 3 weak-side defensive end prospect came to Columbus on a "business trip," hoping to earn a coveted invite to Nike's The Opening camp. Cornell came in trimmed down to 260 lbs. and looked the part of a 5-star elite talent.

While in Columbus, Cornell also got a chance to take in Ohio State again after coming to the Penn State game last October. While Notre Dame has been considered the favorite for some time, but Ohio State has moved into the thick of things as well - calling the visit "one of my best visits yet." 

Cornell is close with Justin Hilliard and would like to play ball with him, so a Hilliard commitment to Ohio State in the next month would pay huge dividends with Cornell (more on Hilliard here).

Cornell had a pretty strong day at camp as well, beating Penn State commit Sterling Jenkins multiple times in one-on-one drills, along with many others.

gallimore looks to become first international player at 'The Opening'

One player that people couldn't stop talking about today was Neville Gallimore, and for good reason - he was dominant.

  • Justin Hilliard earned an invitation to The Opening, more on him here from our own Kyle Rowland.
  • It was a rough day for Sterling Jenkins.
  • Mike Weber and Donovan Peoples-Jones said they are frequently visited by Kerry Coombs at Cass Tech.
  • Big time WR Alex Ofodile visited Ohio State yesterday, but said Notre Dame, Oregon and Michigan State are his top three - Buckeyes appear to be on the outside looking in here.
  • Northwestern commit Andrew Dowell was one of the top RB performers today, goes to St. Ed's in Lakewood, Ohio.
  • Jashon Cornell took home the Defensive Line MVP.
  • Cass Tech DL Michael Onwenu (has Buckeye offer) took home D-line MVP honors.


Byaaaahhh's picture

Great insights and details. Thanks, John/Birm/Kyle/Jordan!

+1 HS
otrain2416's picture

Not gonna lie, I'm excited to see the thread titles change from "OMG why can't OSU recruit" to "Urban did it again with another top 5 class" once the dominos start falling these next few months. 

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

+2 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

I think the posts have been less "why can't OSU recruit" and more "why aren't topic prospects committing to OSU yet?" Its been a frustration composed more of a combination of a lack of commits, losing 1 commit (although not a shock), prospects that were 'high' on OSU going elsewhere, and Penn State getting a trillion commits then ideas of Urban losing his touch or OSU sucking at recruiting. Ive been frustrated, but I have a sense of confidence in the fact I expect OSU to end up with a great group of prospects, just be nice to see a couple of them pull the trigger soon to help us with the other top prospects that will take their time.

+5 HS
otrain2416's picture

Personally, I'd rather us be selective and recruit the best then accept an early 3* or a guy we're not confident with. Realistically we could have 10+ commits of 3* and low 4* guys. Would it win us a NC? Doubt it. I would also rather these top kids wait it out, visit a bunch of schools, find the best fit (hopefully OSU), and make an educated commit without playing the "alex malzone" recruiting game. 

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

-1 HS
luckynutz's picture

You mean anzalone? Pretty sure malzone is and has been committed to TSUN for a while.

otrain2416's picture

you're correct my mistake 

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

John Brandon's picture

Today was a good day for the Buckeyes, they seem to be picking up some momentum and sit well with so many of the nations top prospects

James Mee's picture

Glad to hear it. Having this event in Columbus is a huge benefit I think. 

Ahh Saturday's picture

Did Burrell and/or Settle make it to camp? If so, it's curious that I haven't heard either mentioned.

John Brandon's picture

Burrell and Settle did not camp, just visited. I believe they both already got invited to The Opening

osubuck57's picture

If we could get Gallimore and Cornell....WOW!! Like the Hilliard news as well. Big question is, with Harris being our #1, who out of Hines or Weber, would be #2?? And does Jerome Baker play RB or LB at OSU, if he commits, down the road?

Surprised we didn't move up on Offodiles' list, but different strokes for different folks. Best of luck to him wherever he signs.


+1 HS
John Brandon's picture

With the running back recruiting, style comes into play as well. I think the Buckeyes would happily take Harris and Weber together, but I don't think Weber would necessarily be interested in that when he has other good offers on the table. Hines is more of a hybrid back so it's a different position and I think they would take him regardless of what other RB(s) they take.

Harris is the clear top target for tailback, Weber is probably #2, Larry Scott #3 I would say of their main targets. Hines is an "all-purpose back," think more like Dontre Wilson. As for Jerome Baker, I've always felt he'd be a linebacker at OSU but he could absolutely play RB too if need be.

osubuck57's picture

Thanks for all the clarification John!! Harris and Hines would be a nasty duo!! Agree, Weber probably wouldn't go for #2, and Scott is probably MSU bound.


+1 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

We're gonna need a bigger boat! 

+10 HS
unknownmusketeer's picture

The boat gets bigger by 3 next year!

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Someone was watching Jaws today. lol

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+3 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Indeed my man... Classic 

+3 HS
BroJim's picture

Sounds like Hillard would be a MONSTER pick up!

Noted, thanks.

I season my simple food with hunger

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

MONSER pick up

Not sure what that is.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

+2 HS
sivaDavis's picture

CJ Conrad got invited to The Opening today. *sigh* Any idea if he and OSU's communication stopped completely? He seemed to be upset Boykin got an offer before he did. 

"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
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Excellent info John!  Love the clips and quotes mixed in.  Great work!!  I don't think it will be long before we start to see some gray boxes rolling in with some highly ranked talent!

Go Bucks!!

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Neville Gallimore looks like a beast, eh?


+3 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

It's looking like Hilliard could/will be the leader of this class that everyone has been looking for.  Hopefully, he pulls the trigger sooner rather than later, and some of the other big fish follow suit.  

MN Buckeye's picture

It appears to me that Justin Hilliard is the key to this class moving forward. He exhibits leadership, and other players respect him and are drawn to him. He is doing his research so that his decision is final, and moving up his decision date is important if he decides OSU, as he could be one of the strongest class recruiting leaders we have had in some time.

+1 HS
Gray Box's picture
weimerad's picture

If Weber wants to be the #1 RB to the school he selects then I have a feeling Wisconsin or even TsUN are the most likely destination. MSU is in a similar position as OSU with LJ Scott favoring MSU

sivaDavis's picture

According to Kurelic, Mike Weber told him the Buckeyes are #1 on his list.

"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
DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

Man, it seems like Hilliard is a huge domino for the class. He pulls the trigger for OSU, and Harris and Cornell could be quick to follow. Once Harris pulls the trigger, Gipson follows, then Kirk. And so on...

Don't blink now, because before you know it OSU could have about 4-5 5*s committed.




Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

+2 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

Totally agree.  If Hilliard commits to TOSU, LOOK OUT!  We land a top 3 class for sure.

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