ALL IS RIGHT WITH THE WORLD
While Wednesday is potentially one of the bigger recruiting mornings in recent Ohio State football history, today is Tuesday and that means we've got more to talk about.
There's a futball game today and in order to avoid some cross-football/futball-contamination, we've moved your regularly scheduled Buckeye recruiting updates to 1:15 p.m. today so you can watch the USMNT open a can of freedom on Belgium's waffly-backsides.
Yes, tomorrow morning will be full of anticipation followed immediately by ridiculous amounts of jubilation or hair being pulled out, but let's focus on tonight and a few updates on some players you might want to know about.
SHAKE N' BAKE ABOUT TO HAPPEN?
Jerome Baker is hardly a secret to fans of Ohio State recruiting. The Cleveland Benedictine running back/linebacker is one of Ohio's top two players according to anyone who watches football and has long been considered a Buckeye "lean" according to those in the recruiting world. Just two weeks ago, the country's 4th-ranked athlete released a list of his top eight schools but on Sunday he announced he's ready to make a final decision on July 11th. What prompted the change?
"There is so much extra pressure and stress that comes with my senior year," Baker told Eleven Warriors. "I just want to get one thing out the way, and I have a pretty good indication where I will be going. So why wait?"
The decision is likely to come down to one of three schools: Ohio State, Florida and Tennessee. Baker has really visited both of the SEC schools and has planned to be at Ohio State on July 25th for Friday Night Lights. He says the differences between the schools are great.
"They were all different in their own way," he said. "I was looking for a feeling of 'home,' that's what I really wanted to feel."
Baker says he's in pretty regular contact with Ohio State, but that it doesn't necessarily mean his relationship with the Buckeyes is any better than with other schools.
"I talk with Ohio State almost every other week," Baker added. "I talk with Coach (Stan) Drayton the most."
Can the Buckeyes reel in the state's second-ranked player? Time will tell. Florida is — in my opinion — a legitimate concern. Baker says that when he commits there's still a chance he could take over visits and that he'll be eager to put on the "recruiter" hat when he's made his school choice.
"I might still take visits," he concluded. "I will be very active in recruiting other players to come to school with me. I'll talk to the coaches and I will help recruit players that are the best fit for our program."
KRAEMER VISIT WILL HAPPEN "SOON"
When you've got the country's 16th-ranked player down the road from your school, getting him on campus as often as possible is imperative. That's the situation Ohio State is facing with Cincinnati Elder's Tommy Kraemer. The five-star offensive tackle had hoped to make a return, overnight trip to Columbus by the end of the June. Unfortunately, June ended a lot sooner than anyone thought.
"(The end of June) kind of snuck up on me," Kraemer said with a laugh. "My dad has been talking with Coach (Ed) Warinner a lot lately to get a date set up in July, and we've gotten more comfortable with (Warinner.)"
Since announcing his top-five schools (Ohio State, Notre Dame, Boston College, Duke and Northwestern) Kraemer said he's heard from quite a few new schools. He's also heard more from others who have hoped to get back involved with his recruitment.
"I've not added any new offers lately," he said of his recruitment. "But ever since I put out my top five a lot of schools have been in contact. Some have been talking to my head coach a lot lately to (get back in the mix.)"
As for the Buckeyes and Kraemer, it's not just been an improving relationship with Ed Warinner that is working in Ohio State's favor.
"I talked for a while with Tyler Gerald," Kraemer said of the 2016 Buckeye commitment. "We're trying to figure out a date where we can both visit together."
HASKINS FEELS THE LOVE
Years ago, Dwayne Haskins, Jr. visited Ohio State. That visit was captured via grainy video footage, but the country's 90th-ranked 2016 prospect got an updated and "live-in-HD" review when he and his family visited Ohio State two weeks ago. As one of a handful of quarterbacks in 2016 to already hold a Buckeye offer, Haskins is working hard to gain clarity on a potential college choice. He told Eleven Warriors in mid-May that he was just beginning to develop a relationship with Ohio State's current coaching staff, so his recent visit was an important one for the signal-caller from Potomac, Maryland.
"(My relationship) with Coach (Urban) Meyer has changed a lot since May," Haskins told 11W. "I feel much more comfortable with the coaching staff compared to when they offered."
One of the reasons for that increased comfort is seeing Ohio State again, this time through the eyes of a prospect looking to make a wise college choice as opposed to an awestruck eight-year-old.
"A lot of the questions I had about Ohio State have been answered," he said when asked how the years impacted his memory about the Buckeyes. "A lot of the (old feelings) were there, I remembered a lot of the facilities and stuff even though there were renovations going on."
As a highly-sought-after recruit, the Buckeyes had to show Haskins all facets of the school, not just the football program; that is the area people know about already.
"We spent a lot of time on campus, meeting with academic advisors and they went through and told me a lot about who've graduated from Ohio State that went on to become sportscasters for major networks, because I want to get into broadcasting. Academics is also going to be important to me, so I have to think about life after football too. I want to be comfortable and make sure they have my best interest in mind."
As far as what is in Haskins' best interest on the field? That's finding a school where he'll be comfortable and has a chance to win a lot of games. He realizes as a quarterback he's got the chance to be a leader in a recruiting class and he wants to be just that. Of course, that doesn't mean he's going to rush into a choice. He is also aware of the rumors that Ohio State leads for a number of players at his position.
"I'm still going to decide during my junior year," Haskins said. "I know a lot of great kids in the 2016 class that would like to join me where ever I commit to. The main goal is to find a school that's right for me and to not rush the process. (Ohio State) has made it clear that I'm their top guy and there's no pressure for me to commit early. I know where I stack up."
He's been to Ohio State, Notre Dame, West Virginia and a few other schools this summer, but Haskins is hardly done with his travel plans. He's even considering a return trip to Columbus, if he can swing it.
"I'm still going to the Rivals Camp Series Underclassman Challenge next week in Dallas, and I'll visit Florida, Florida State and potentially Texas and Tennessee still. There's no time for recess or a break," he continued. "I might get back to Ohio State for Friday Night Lights and I'm thinking about watching them when they play Navy and then one game at home. The Big Ten has a bunch of games I can attend."