Following the Columbus Nike Football Training Camp event, Eleven Warriors spoke with two attendees, defensive lineman Jashon Cornell and defensive end Darius Fullwood. Each recruit excelled in workouts, and landing them would add to the riches of defensive lineman Urban Meyer has signed since coming to Ohio State.
Although the offensive line is at a clear disadvantage at most of these camp events, Cornell impressed enough to earn an invite to "The Opening", a meeting of the nation's elite prospects that in past years has aired on ESPN.
Cornell's first visit to Columbus couldn't have gone much better, a fact that has put the Buckeyes in the driver's seat for his commitment. "I loved it," Cornell said of his Saturday visit to Ohio State. "It was one of my favorite visits of the year."
Cornell also developed a rapport with the coaching staff. "I have a very good connection with both of them," Cornell said of Larry Johnson Sr. and Urban Meyer. "When I was here, it felt like family. It was love here. I like the facilities here and the academics are a high point."
Twitter was abuzz after Cornell sent out a tweet saying he could see himself playing with five-star linebacker Justin Hilliard in college, since Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State are three schools both he and Hilliard are interested in. On Sunday, he reiterated that he and Hilliard might play college football together.
There wasn't much discussion about Cornell in connection to Ohio State prior to this weekend. Before Saturday, the staff struggled to get Cornell on campus. Now that he has visited, some insiders believe the Buckeyes could land a pledge from the five-star prospect.
Some of the usual recruiting disadvantages don't apply for Cornell. Weather won't be a factor, since he's used to zero-degree weather Minnesota; in fact, Cornell said he loves the heat in Ohio. Distance won't be a factor either; his mother works for Delta, which allows his family to fly for free.
The main factors in his recruitment? Academics and connection with the coaches. "Academics are the most important thing in my family. If you don't have the academic side, my mom pulls me out of football. You have to be a student athlete first."
Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, Penn State, UCLA and USC are the five schools Cornell said are battling for his commitment. He will announce a decision at his school on August 28.
On Saturday, Cornell and Darius Fullwood attended a cookout with the OSU coaching staff along with some other prospects. For Fullwood, a Maryland native, it was an opportunity to revisit Columbus while facing some of the nation's best competition.
"I felt great," the three-star prospect said about working out at Columbus NFTC. "It's always good to get out here to these big camps to compete with the best players. I thought I did pretty well today." Fullwood blew by quite a few linemen in drills.
The Buckeyes are off to a slow start in recruiting this year, but Fullwood could be close to joining the 2015 class. "I should be making my choice on June 28," he said, noting that the process is coming to an end. "I'm going to take a few more visits and go to a few more camps."
Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Miami, Ohio State and Virginia Tech are the top schools in pursuit of the Maryland native. Besides his top five, Fullwood is still considering Boston College, Michigan State and Duke. According to Fullwood, he may visit those schools this summer.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end has visited most of his top schools more than once. Fullwood mentioned that he wanted to end the recruiting process before his senior football season, and feels he has a chance to see a lot from the schools pursuing him.
Fullwood hasn't shied away from mentioning OSU as one of his top schools vying for his commitment. The Buckeyes appear to be the favorite for Fullwood, due in large part to his relationship with Larry Johnson Sr.
When Johnson took over as Ohio State defensive line coach, one of his first calls was to Fullwood. Johnson quickly offered Fullwood, and he became one of the Buckeyes' top targets. "Ohio State is still very high on my list," Fullwood said on Sunday. "I have a great relationship with coach Johnson."
Fullwood's decision will come down which school fits him the best. He wants to major in business, so he wants a school that appeals to the business aspect. Campus life and good fit with the coaches are two of his other major factors while looking for a school.
"It's nice out here," Fullwood said. "It's a good campus feel. All the coaches have different personalities. They know how to have fun, and they know when the season comes around it's time to get serious, because we're trying to win games here."