Hello, welcome to Tuesday afternoon's Buckeye recruiting update. I'm your host and I hope that you find today's recap insightful, delightful and overall delicious. There's a ton of things happening around Ohio State's recruiting this week and this coming weekend, so there's little time for chatting. Let's get to the update, post haste. We'll start with today's biggest stories.
CHRIS CLARK ON CAMPUS TODAY
Ohio State's pursuit of a top tight end in the 2015 class has been well-documented. Today, they're getting their final shot to convince Chris Clark, the country's second-ranked player at the position, that Ohio State is the place for him. The Buckeyes have slowly started to creep back into the picture for Clark and today's visit — especially the chance to spend time with Buckeye commit Joe Burrow — will be the be all end all. While it's great for Urban Meyer's crew that Clark will be on campus, the Buckeyes will have to endure two other important trips for the Connecticut prospect this week.
The Under-Armour All-American will head north to Ann Arbor and East Lansing following his Buckeye visit. The visit to Ann Arbor will be his second, while he's making his initial trip to East Lansing. Michigan and Michigan State are two of Clark's final four schools (along with Ohio State and North Carolina) and he'll announce his choice at The Opening in early July. Eleven Warriors will have an update on Clark's visit to Ohio State as soon as possible.
NICK CONNER MAKING HIS PITCH
Dublin, Ohio 2015 linebacker Nick Conner camped at Ohio State today, hoping to once and for all prove that he's worthy of a Buckeye offer. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Conner has had a couple big weeks in his own recruitment; he's recently added offers from Oregon and Michigan State and was named the linebacker MVP at the Rivals Camp Series in Baltimore two weekends ago. As far as today's performance at Ohio State, Conner's versatility could help him eventually land the Buckeye offer he covets. With the capability to play linebacker, h-back or even tight end, there's a line of thinking that the Buckeyes should offer Conner now and figure out the position later.
We've been beating the drum for this offer to happen for sometime at 11W, and now we'll know soon if it ever will. If the Buckeyes don't offer Conner within the next couple days, you can bet he'll end his recruitment — likely with a commitment to Michigan State — soon.
BACK TO THE TIGHT END POSITION FOR A MOMENT
With Chris Clark on campus, most of the attention at tight end is focused on 2015, and rightfully so. We've talked about Ohio State's desire to reel in two at the position for months, but we've also said over and over that the Buckeyes will not reach to fill a spot.
"What's your point, Jeremy?"
The point, dudes, is this: if the Buckeyes can find a way to land the aforementioned Clark, don't be surprised if he's the only tight end come February. Why?
Meet Luke Farrell, the country's 10th-ranked tight end in 2016, from Perry, Ohio. Yesterday, Farrell was offered by Michigan and today (and tomorrow) he'll be camping with the Buckeyes. Ohio's 11th-ranked player in his class, Farrell has the unfortunate distinction of being behind Cincinnati Moeller tight end Jake Hausmann, who already has an offer from Ohio State and is considered by most to be strongly favoring the Buckeyes.
With a solid two days at camp, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Farrell could help the Buckeyes shift their mindset about not only 2015 tight end recruiting, but 2016 as well. Exceptionally athletic and still growing into his frame, Farrell could also be a high-level defensive end in college. Have we mentioned that Ohio is loaded in 2016?
SAGUARO BLOOMING IN COLUMBUS?
This past weekend, Scottsdale, Arizona's Christian Kirk — as well as recently offered 2016 teammate Byron Murphy — spent some time in College Station, Texas with Kevin Sumlin's Aggies. While each player acknowledged that a great time was had in Texas, this weekend will bring them each to Columbus and Ohio State. It will be the second Buckeye visit for Kirk and the first for Murphy, but the Buckeye brand is alive and well in Arizona the moment.
Kirk, Murphy and their head coach at Saguaro High School will arrive in Columbus on Friday morning and spend two days with the Buckeyes. It is, suffice to say, a huge visit as far as Ohio State is concerned. The Arizona pair will spend plenty of time with Ohio State's Zach Smith, as well as Urban Meyer, but the Buckeye's greatest asset may be a yet-to-play-a-snap-freshman-to-be: Johnnie Dixon.
Dixon, an early enrollee from Miami, has walked the walk at Ohio State and has become a good friend to the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Kirk. They're sure to spend a lot of time together this weekend.
JUSTIN HILLIARD WINDING THINGS DOWN
Another one of Ohio State's biggest targets — Justin Hilliard, visited another one of Ohio State's biggest threats to his commitment — Notre Dame last weekend. The good news is that Hilliard didn't commit to the Irish, the bad news is that he's visiting South Bend once again this coming Friday for their big hullaballoo, the "Irish Invasion," this Friday night. The good news is that the next day he'll visit Ohio State once again, where he'll spend an overnight visit with the Buckeyes and his friend, freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillan.
The better news? These two visits are likely to be the final two trips Hilliard makes before he makes a decision about his commitment. There's a good possibility that the Cincinnati St. Xavier linebacker will announce his college choice at The Opening. He will be the centerpiece of someone's recruiting class, and the Buckeyes are hoping beyond hope it's theirs.
Don't be surprised if Hubbard, Ohio 2015 running back L.J. Scott is a Buckeye before the end of this week.
Damien Harris was hoping to visit today, but told me yesterday that won't happen. He's hoping to make it on Wednesday, instead.
Had a good talk with 2016 Ohio offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg from Cleveland St. Ignatius earlier this week. While I was initially very confident that the potential five-star tackle was destined to wear scarlet and gray, I think this one is going to be a a challenge for the Buckeyes. Notre Dame is a real player here. In fact, if I had to pick one today, I'd pick the Irish.
Still hearing Buckeyes as the favorite for Tennessee wide receiver Van Jefferson, despite the delay in his decision. If the Buckeyes lose out on the Ravenwood, Tennessee star, maybe Ohio's Alex Stump gets a second look.
Andre James wrapped up his Buckeye visit yesterday morning and told me Ohio State will get one of his official visits this fall along with Oklahoma, USC, UCLA and Oregon. Despite a great visit to Ohio State this weekend — and family in Ohio — it'll take a big effort from Ed Warinner and Urban Meyer to lure the talented Utah resident to the midwest.
Deondre Francois has scheduled a Buckeye visit for Wednesday of this week. The talented quarterback from Orlando, Florida will give Ohio State a look after a one-day visit to Auburn. Florida State is still the leader in the clubhouse for Francois and the Buckeyes are very, very, very unlikely to take another quarterback in 2015.