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.
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