Joe Burrow, Tyler Green, Denzel Ward, Jashon Cornell Talk Friday Night Lights

By Jeremy Birmingham on July 27, 2014 at 11:15a
Friday Night Lights at Ohio Stadium

Well, it's been quite a weekend for Buckeye recruiting, hasn't it? Friday Night Lights came and went and it started with a bang as Olathe, Kansas tight end Josh Moore committed to the Buckeyes before the sun had set Friday evening. Less than two hours later, it was another Josh — Detroit Cass Tech's Alabi — who decided it was time to be a Buckeye.

While we had a rundown of the event here, and stories post-event here, here, here, herehere, and here, a recruiting bonanza of this magnitude requires a bit more to dig through the happenings. In particular, the reaction from current Buckeye commitments hasn't really been discussed: until now. (Cue suspenseful theme music)

Here's what a few of your "Elite '15" had to say about their experience at Friday Night Lights as future Buckeyes rather than just as players competing for a scholarship offer.

"I think the main thing I really enjoyed about Friday Night Lights was getting to know my future teammates. Most of our commits were there and I spent a lot of time with them. Everyone but Grant (Schmidt), Kevin (Feder) and Dre'Mont (Jones) was there," Buckeyes quarterback commit Joe Burrow said of the night.  I can tell that it will be crazy to play in that stadium. There were only a few thousand people there and the "O-H-I-O" chant was loud. It gave me chills."

Burrow discussed the addition of the "Elite '15's" two newest members. Despite being so close to the action, the commitments of Josh² were a surprise.

"Those two committed kind of out of the blue," Burrow added. "The coaches told us when they had committed, and since they didn't really know many of us yet they brought them over and we tried to get to know them better, to make them feel at home. I spent a lot of time with Jake Hausmann. He spent a lot of time with our commitments and I think he really felt at home."

Hausmann, a 2016 tight end from Cincinnati, said he too had a great time at the camp, despite his decision to not participate in the drills.

"Yeah," Hausmann said. "It was really fun. (Ohio State) needed a 2015 tight end commitment. (I was going to work out) but I was a little beat up from camp and I don't want to get hurt before the season."

Buckeyes defensive back pledges Denzel Ward and Tyler Green also took in the action, although Green camped and Ward opted out. For Ward, it was a unique experience to see the grind for an offer from the other side of the fence.

"It was a cool experience," the 5-foot-11, 165-pound cornerback said. "I was just in a lot their shoes, working to receive a scholarship offer from the top school in the country. I didn't work out, I just shadowed Coach (Kerry) Coombs with some other commits and listened to what he was teaching everyone. What stood out to me was the intensity and enthusiasm of the campers and the coaches. It lasted through the whole camp."

Green shared a similar point-of-view.

"Aside from The Opening, Friday Night Lights was the best event I've ever been to, recruiting-wise," the Maryland-native said. "The fan support was awesome, it was great how the current players interacted with the commitments and recruits. I had Vonn Bell and Doran Grant in my face the whole time (laughs). The fans were crazy. There was a point when Mike Doss was trying to tell us how great the fan base was so he just randomly yelled out "O-H!" and the fans were on point and replied "I-O" without hesitation. I had fans screaming my name and calling me from the stands and I did pictures and even signed autographs."

"Being a part of that Friday night was one of the best feelings of my life. I know those fans will root for me, and those coaches will treat me like family, and those players will show me the ropes and help me be great. Picking Ohio State is the best decision I've ever made."

The chance to develop friendships with future teammates, the chance to gain a rapport with the guys you'll line up next to for three-to-five years? That's why events like Friday Night Lights matter. Jashon Cornell talked about his friendship with linebacker commitment Justin Hilliard.

"With Justin, it just feels like we're brothers already," Cornell said. "He's like my right-hand man. I felt like I belonged at Ohio State, just chilling with some of the freshman and Justin, it felt like we were family. The atmosphere was great, it wasn't even a spring game or a practice or anything, you can tell by how many fans showed up that they truly love Ohio State football. They were calling our names and trying to take pictures with us and stuff."

Cornell and Hilliard were not just there having fun, even though fun was certainly had. There was business — recruiting business — to attend to.

"I spent a majority of my time at the camp with Drew Richmond and Justin spent most of his time with Torrance Gibson," Cornell said of his evening. "Drew has always got me laughing. He and Torrance are by far two of the funniest recruits out there."

Ironically, it's Burrow who could be the most impacted by the potential of a Gibson commitment to the Buckeyes, but he's on board with whatever makes his future team better.

"I didn't get to spend much time with Torrance because he was working out," Burrow said of the Florida five-star. "I know he wants to be a quarterback, but it would be incredible to have an athlete like him on our team."

Linebacker Nick Conner didn't get much of a chance to meet Gibson either.

"I said 'Hey' to Torrance in the locker room, and I unfortunately didn't get to meet Drew," Conner said. "My family and I got there a little earlier and went to check out the new facilities at the Woody Hayes. Just seeing the new place and being in there again was sweet. It was pretty cool meeting the guys there and getting to hear their stories about Ohio State and their high schools. It's going to be so crazy walking on the field there one day as a player and not a fan."

Michigan had an up-and-down day yesterday, adding a big-time 2015 commitment but taking a surprising loss to one of their top in-state 2016 targets. Saginaw's Brian Cole decided to stay home and committed to the Wolverines and linebacker Daelin Hayes surprised many with an impromptu commitment to USC during a west coast visit. Both players already held Ohio State offers, but Cole was the more likely of the two to consider the Buckeyes more than on a cursory level.

Hayes was at USC with fellow Michigander Mike Weber. Weber picked up a Southern Cal offer during his visit and last week moved the Trojans into his top five. While Weber continues to trend towards the Wolverines, I've been told a number of times the Buckeyes have been his clear-cut leader, but Ohio State's pursuit of Damien Harris isn't going to stop if Weber were to commit, so it's likely he ends up elsewhere, especially so if Harris commits to the Buckeyes as most predict he eventually will. Of course, with Weber's friends and teammates now committing many places other than Michigan, things get a bit murkier. While he won't base his choice on anyone else's decision, the Buckeyes picking up a commitment from Alabi Friday night sure-as-poop doesn't hurt their odds with Weber.

Next Buckeye commitment? The Buckeyes still believe it could be Warren, Ohio's James Danielsalthough most "experts" believe things are heading towards the Ohio State legacy selecting Iowa this week (Thursday) at his school. The Buckeyes, for their part, truly believe it's a 50/50 toss-up right now. Ohio State would still like to take three more offensive lineman in their 2015 class, and Daniels is one they have penciled in.

I'm getting close to offering to consume my loafers if 2016 linebacker Brendan Ferns ends up anywhere other than Ohio State.

Things appear to be fading away from the Buckeyes as it pertains to Saguaro (Scottsdale, Arizona) star Christian Kirk. Ohio State will do whatever they can to stay involved and near the fore for his signature, but they've got some work to do and aren't feeling nearly as good about their position as they did a month ago.

Although things are trending downward with Kirk, I'd expect — at this point — for both Van Jefferson and Lawrence Cager to end up Buckeyes come signing day. Jefferson's decision could come at any time and the main competitors for his commitment, Tennessee, are losing confidence in their position with him I am told. Whether or not that holds is the question, but the Buckeyes are in great shape as things currently stand.


Comments Show All Comments

BrutusBuckey3's picture

No place like the Shoe. Especially at night. 

+4 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

Thanks, Birm! It's great to hear about the bonding within and across the classes. Great troll job, by the way, for CBing Drew Richmond to Memphis.

+1 HS
Liening's picture

Gotta say that I love how the current commits are working the guys we want to bring into the family.  


+2 HS
bucknut94's picture

I have a feeling we have nothing to fear with the tOSU 2015 class.

+2 HS
Ahh Saturday's picture

Birm, thanks for the update and kudos to the whole 11W staff for the FNL coverage.  Just a couple of questions regarding WR.  First, I was surprised to read Cager saying that he's likely to wait until the Army All-American game to make his commitment.  I thought that he was one of the guys who would jump on an OSU offer.  Do you think there's much of a chance he might move his decision up, or even waaaay up?  Also, when is Kirk deciding, and would a commitment from Gibson revive our chances with Kirk?  

+4 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Echo the sentiment...a sincere thank you to the staff for all the coverage.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

1. I do believe Cager will likely make a choice before an All-Star game, although I won't say there's a definitive timeframe to pay attention to.

2. Kirk is going to decide end of November-ish, and Buckeyes are still in line for an official visit, they just need to find a way to move back up the list before then. Right now, they're slipping. A Gibson commitment wouldn't hurt, but that's unlikely to happen anytime soon.

TobyMagic's picture

I know there's only 3 stars next to Tyler Green's name but I think he's got what it takes to be special.  Seems to want to work out and learn at every opportunity. Excited for his future..

+3 HS
KBonay's picture

We didn't want Kirk anyway. Overrated.  Too small and not fast enough.

+1 HS
SilverState's picture

Lol. Yeah I want Kirk even more than Gibson.

+4 HS
KBonay's picture

Gotta think that Gibson would help in the Kirk sweepstakes.

+1 HS
brband64's picture

I think Kirk Gibson is a Michigan State lock.

"Maybe the Big Ten is not that bad. Maybe it's pretty damn good.'' ~ Urban Meyer

+8 HS
BuckeyeNationforLife's picture

Oh, how we wish this could be true..

Paralyze resistance with persistence. - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
ODEEZ330's picture

Big fan of greens quote. Loved that bell and grant (probably the 2 best db's on the team) were out there in the commits face pushing him n forming a bond. I love how urb runs this program from recruiting to team/man building to game day

stark county football

+1 HS
Rudy's picture

Green is the man. Will end up being one of the Buckeye greats

+1 HS
sivaDavis's picture

Sucks about Kirk but great hearing about Jefferson and Cager. 

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
CTBuckeye's picture

Whomever we land of the three you listed I think this class will end up just fine, but I still think we have a chance with Kirk.  Success in recruiting seems to beget more success, so if Harris signs and Gibson starts to strongly lean towards Ohio State it might give a slight advantage for the Buckeyes.

"Because we couldn't go for three"

allinosu's picture

I read a couple of weeks ago that Kirk said he wanted to play against the best and the best is arguably the sec. I guess he is going to Kentucky.

+2 HS
MikeTheBuckeye's picture

I've listed Kirk as a must-get for many months now. I'm excited to see our chances are good with Jefferson and Cager but the prospect of missing out on Kirk leaves a hole in my heart. I hope our coaching staff can find a way to turn it around.

Fly Patterns's picture

I wonder what leads birm to conclude that we are fading with Kirk. I don't doubt it, but just not sure. Is it because he is picking up whispers? Or just no social media love coming from kirk? I don't know what it means to fade in the recruiting world.

+1 HS
Jbuckham94's picture

I doubt it's something as trivial as social media love that is making Birm think he is trending away. It was recently stated in one of the FNL threads that Birm lives in Arizona, so I'm sure he's got some good connections there and is hearing whispers.

Class of 2016. Go Bucks!

Mizzillion's picture

Two Joshes down, one to go. I'm lookin at you, Josh Sweat.

+2 HS
MikeEagleBuckeye's picture

Really liked what you said about Hausmann and Green.  I think it bodes well that he was hanging with a lot of the commits.  Also loved how Green still worked out.  It really shows his desire to be great, I think.

+1 HS
2002osubuck's picture

I'd love to get Jefferson and Cager. They're both bigger WRs and catch just about everything. We already have a bunch of really fast, shorter WRs but need these 6'3" 6'5" guys to have the full compliment. This provides the offense with so many options it will be extremely hard to defend. Not to mention, these taller WRs will help Jones and Barrett with the accuracy issues.

+1 HS
BUCKSOMIES's picture

Thanks Birm.  Great stuff as always.

Balkestud's picture

That's a bummer about Kirk, I really feel like he is going to be a star. I don't have any scientific stats to back that up but he reminds me of a Steve Smith/Terry Glenn hybrid. I wonder what kind of wheels A&M are offering him?

It gets kind of rough in the back of my limousine,



Seattle Linga's picture

Cager and V-Jeff would be a real nice pair!!!!!!!!!!!

BuckeyeinTally's picture

Any update on CJ Conrad?

Crimson's picture

There may be others, but I've heard he didn't get an offer.  Maybe that'll change after he plays some of his senior season, but it doesn't look good.