It appears, finally, that Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class is gaining some momentum. In the last week, three different players pledged to Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. Maryland safety Tyler Green, South Dakota lineman Grant Schmidt and Ohio long snapper Liam McCullough all became a part of the "Elite '15."
The class got its first commitment out of the way yesterday when Hubbard, Ohio's George Hill announced he was committing to Ohio State. Despite the big names coming to campus and the promise of big-time commitments on the horizon, there's an elephant in the room that requires attending to.
The Gibson SITUATION
As documented recently, there are some red flags surrounding Torrance Gibson, the nation's top-ranked athlete in the 2015 class. Rumors of altercations at school and an overall shift in his attitude had started to contribute to some wondering whether or not he was worth pursuing.
Despite those flags, Gibson's talent keeps people clinging to the idea of "if we can just get him on campus, maybe things will shift." Unfortunately for Ohio State, Gibson's been unable to make it to campus, despite a number of trips to other colleges, some as far away as Norman, Oklahoma.
He recently spent a number of days in Knoxville, Tennessee and has already scheduled a return trip for later this month. That trip came after a repeat visit to Auburn, and the Buckeyes, despite repeated efforts to get him to commit to a visit; have been unable to secure one.
Why is that? How is that? That's anyone's guess. Clearly there are people around Gibson who've had no issues getting him where he wants or is asked to be, yet Ohio State's been left out of the picture.
Move ahead to Cleveland.com's Ari Wasserman's update on Gibson Thursday night. In it, Gibson acknowledges that the Buckeyes have moved further down his list, from fourth, to fifth, and now to seventh. His reasoning: a lack of contact from Ohio State:
They are just dropping right now because a lot of coaches have been in contact with me, and I haven't been in contact with any of their coaches since I don't know when.
Gibson's long-standing infatuation with Ohio State seems to have faded, thanks in part to his ability to get to other schools repeatedly, and the Buckeyes aren't going to compromise recruiting resources and valuable time on a player that's a thousand miles away from Columbus if they don't feel said player is giving them a legitimate shot to land him. If Gibson wants to have the Buckeyes in touch with him, it's on the 6-foot-4, 200-pound standout to initiate that and to make sure he gets to Columbus. If not, the ship is effectively sailed.
So...What About Waller?
Since the commitment of Joe Burrow we've contended that if Ohio State is going to take another quarterback in this recruiting class, it would have to be Torrance Gibson. Now that it appears we can move on from Gibson realistically being a member of this class, the number of questions I've fielded on Twitter and elsewhere about Travis Waller getting an offer from the Buckeyes has grown to an almost comical degree.
The latest shaking of the Waller tree also came from Wasserman and Cleveland.com, who had an update from the Anaheim, California native following a visit to Alabama. Waller indicated, as he's done consistently, that Ohio State is on the edge of offering him:
They told me an offer should be coming soon and that they're happy they are in my top four.
Yes, the Buckeyes were included in Waller's top four schools — along with Alabama, Notre Dame and Northwestern — but Ohio State's unlikely to offer according to sources we've spoken with. The Buckeyes are happy with Joe Burrow and will not be offering another quarterback unless something changes significantly with Burrow's status. If they do, slap some steak sauce on a pair of Sperry's, because I'll eat my shoe.
Let's move on from the quarterback position and talk about a few other big visitors to Columbus.
Andre James, the nation's 18th-ranked offensive tackle from Herriman, Utah was in Columbus this weekend and checked out Ohio State. Offered by the Buckeyes in mid-March, James has family in the Buckeye state and is familiar with Urban Meyer from his days at the helm for Utah. Although Ohio State is still aggressively pursuing other tackle prospects, James' visit has gone exceedingly well and the Buckeyes are now in great shape for his services. What that would do for Ohio State's pitch to Matthew Burrell or Drew Richmond is anyone's guess.
Speaking of Burrell, there's still a chance he could end up back in Columbus as early as Tuesday. Connecticut tight end Chris Clark was hoping to get Burrell to accompany him for his Buckeye visit this week. Clark's recruitment is winding down, and the Buckeyes are hoping to show him once-and-for-all why Ohio State is the right place for him. In order to do that, the Buckeyes will have a number of important people on campus trying to connect with Clark, but none bigger than Joe Burrow himself. Clark will announce his college decision at The Opening in early July.
On Friday, Eleven Warriors talked with Damien Harris who also disclosed that he'd be in Columbus this Tuesday, giving him a shot to get to know Burrow and Clark and a few others better. Harris' recruitment is still up in the air, but he's been to Columbus so many times that it's impossible to believe the Buckeyes aren't right at the top of his list. A late week visit to Notre Dame is scheduled and that's something to pay attention to, especially if the Irish are able to convince Justin Hilliard to return to South Bend for the second time in two weeks.
Georgia safety Rashad Roundtree will be another huge name on campus this coming week, and he'll have an extended stay in Columbus. Roundtree, the country's fifth-ranked safety and a consensus four-star prospect, arrives Monday and will spend two-plus days with the Buckeyes. It's likely that this Georgia safety will spend a lot of time with another Georgia safety, Ohio State's Vonn Bell, and the task of plucking him from the southern schools will be just as great. As is the case with any big-time southern prospect, half the battle is getting him on campus at least once unofficially and the Buckeyes are going to get a great shot at Roundtree this week.