Recruiting Mailbag: Time for Football

By Jeremy Birmingham on July 29, 2014 at 1:13p
Mailbags are bags, but with mail in them.

Good afternoon recruiting fans. Thanks for joining me yet again to discuss this, that and the other thing surrounding Buckeye football futures. We've had a pretty busy weekend, but with Friday Night Lights in our rearview mirror, there's questions heading into the start of the 2014 football season.

In this mailbag, we're talking Josh Alabi, Christian Kirk, Torrance Gibson's potential impact and a number of other topics. If I didn't get your question answered, I apologize, but I will try and get to it in the original forum thread.

Let's do it, y'all.

Should we be looking at the Alabi commit as a acceptance we aren't getting Sweat? - Logamaniac

I don't think — actually I know — the two are not related. It could be however that Alabi's commitment is a sign that the Buckeyes are feeling less optimistic about a player like Christian Wilkins than they had before. Josh Sweat is A) a defensive end and B) too darn good to even consider giving up on or not taking if he wanted in. He's a game-changer on every level, and immediately.

Seems like folks are up in the air about what position Alabi will be playing. What's your take? - OregonianBuckeye

After talking to a few folks "in the know" about Alabi, I think the Buckeyes are confident that he could player any number of positions. That said, for now the Buckeyes are considering him a defensive line prospect because they're holding out hope along the offensive line for three players: James Daniels, Matt Burrell, and Drew Richmond. If Ohio State can land those three, then Alabi would start his Buckeye career on the interior of the defensive line. If, come signing day, there are a few openings, he could potentially get a look on the interior of the offensive line. It is — like most recruiting situations — fluid.

Any surprises in this class that you can see come NSD? - WezBuck28

Have you not already been surprised? I realize that most believe every single player offered/signed by Ohio State should be a five-star talent, but this year's class has definitely yielded a number of surprises already. Bottom line, trust Urban and his coaches to find the players and the people they feel they can develop on and off the field. I could make wild prognostications, but it's safe to assume that a number of players will be in the class no one had anticipated.

What's the latest on Haskins?  Any news on his timeline? - TeddyBallGame

I talked with Dwayne Haskins a few nights ago, after his tweet about a decision "coming soon." While there's some truth to that, he went on to tell me that a choice is still not likely to be made until after his season. Of course, if Haskins knows where he wants to go to school, that could change and happen almost any day. I think right now the biggest competition for Ohio State with Haskins appears to be Florida State and Notre Dame.

Let's say we get Gibson, think that will have any affect on Burrow or Haskins? - MavBuck

No, I don't think either one of those will be impacted by a potential Gibson commitment. The reason why? Burrow and Haskins both know that as they are currently constructed, they're more likely to play and succeed as a college quarterback, despite the out-of-this-world physical capabilities of Gibson. I actually spoke with Burrow about this specifically post-Friday Night Lights and he was not in any way concerned.

Are the good guys still trending for Burrell? - PCuzz1

I am not sure that many believe me when I say it, but I am still pretty confident that Matt Burrell is going to be a Buckeye. Yes, Penn State, Alabama, Florida and others are a concern, but Burrell's relationships at Ohio State are incredibly strong. He's doing the right thing: taking his time and making sure of his decision. He wants to know Ohio State will help develop him for the next level and as another season of Buckeye football approaches, it's another opportunity for Ed Warinner's offensive line to illustrate that point to him. Warinner's success is unquestionable, even if he's not winning any awards for Mr. Congeniality.

You mentioned in another article we are falling out of favor with Kirk.  Are there any concerns that he won't make it for an official visit?  If the official visit stands, how do you like our chances? - Bucks15

As it stands, there's no reason to think that the Buckeyes aren't going to get Kirk back on campus for an official visit, but obviously things can change quickly. I think that if that visit happens as expected, Ohio State's chances at signing the Arizona four-star move back up considerably, but it has to happen. Right now, the biggest challenge for Ohio State is distance and comfort/knowledge of future quarterback situations at the other schools he's considering. The Buckeyes have a number of talented quarterbacks on their roster now and in the future, but there's uncertainty and Kirk has tremendous relationships developing with a number of top quarterbacks around the country. Josh Rosen, Ricky Town and Kyler Murray (along with Kyle Allen) have made him a top priority.

Who would you rather have play receiver for the Buckeyes - Christian Kirk or Torrance Gibson.  - Brutus' Left Nut

I've been on record as saying I think that Christian Kirk is the best high school wide receiver in the country for 2015 and I stand by that. Kirk's ability to create his own space is above the norm for a high school player and he's got incredible hands, catching everything thrown his way. He's far more polished than the average player at his age and has an explosiveness and shiftiness that most just can't get to. He's a surefire star in my opinion.

Of course, I think Torrance Gibson could be a first-round NFL draft pick at wide receiver, so there's no doubt he'd be a nice grab too, but if Gibson ends up at Ohio State, he'll at least start his career at quarterback.

Zach Smith was a clutch recruiter down the stretch last year.  Does he repeat, if yes who does he bring in? - DustinCCC

It's somewhat funny, isn't it? In Urban Meyer's first year at Ohio State, Smith was viewed by many as the "weak link" on the Buckeye staff and he'll be the first to admit that he didn't get the job done the way he'd have liked to off the bat. Last year, Smith was directly responsible for two of the bigger surprises in the "Dream '14," helping reel in four-star wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and four-star defensive end Jalyn Holmes.

Zach Smith's resume in dollars
Zach Smith's resume speaks for itself.

Right now, Smith's working hard to replicate last year's success and he's a major player in the recruitment of Torrance Gibson, Christian Kirk, Van Jefferson, Matt Burrell, Calvin Ridley and a number of others. There's no doubt that Smith's personality resonates with recruits and his biggest challenge now is those who will attempt to downplay his ability to develop talent once they're on campus. His resume speaks for itself, but there's always someone trying to change perceptions.

You've said that Damien Harris' decisions may depend on how UK does this season. Are there any other recruits that we're after whose decisions may rely heavily on the season outcomes for some teams? - Killer Nuts

I do believe that more than most recruits, Damien Harris' decision will be strongly impacted by how Kentucky's season finishes out. As a Kentucky resident, sitting idly by and watching as Mark Stoops attempts to revamp their long-dormant football program, Harris has to feel more pressure than most to be a part of the "fix." If he was from Georgia, or Pennsylvania, or Indiana, Harris would not be considering Kentucky, but the draw of "home" is difficult to ignore.

A lot of us saw pictures of Stacy Elliott (Ezekiel's dad) chatting up Torrance Gibson, and with Justin Hilliard and his father. Do you think Stacy Elliott actually has any kind of impact when he talks to a recruit? - Buckeyes7222

Stacy Elliott is a former Missouri Tiger football player, whose son left the state of Missouri to attend Ohio State. Stacy Elliott believes in Ohio State and Urban Meyer so much that not only did he give his son the blessing to leave home for Columbus, but he himself moved to Columbus to be closer to his son and the program. Since then, Elliott has been an integral part of the Ohio State football team and even played a major role in the recruitment of Justin Hilliard, indirectly. His relationship with Carl Hilliard, Justin's dad, was a vital piece of the puzzle, giving the elder Hilliard valuable insight into the program, the people, etc.

It's impossible to say if he's ever really impacted a recruit's decision personally, but his enthusiasm and passion for Ohio State is plain as day and that's contagious if you're around it.

How big of an impact is a football player's high school senior season?  These kids have only been evaluated on early high school year production and summer camps.  In my opinion, there is still a lot to prove.  Thoughts? - AFonzai

You know, this is really an excellent question. As the recruiting calendar has moved ahead so too has the time for really getting "noticed" for the superstar prospects. College camps, scouting service camps and 7-on-7 tours in the summer have helped colleges identify potential big-timers far earlier than in the past. However, the average player (read: uncommitted, less-offered) still has a ton to gain from a productive and big senior season. Mid-majors and lower level football programs are full of guys who didn't get noticed until later in the recruiting cycle and late-bloomers. Every snap of a player's career is important because as exposure possibilities increase everything is a potential chance to get seen.


Comments Show All Comments

KBonay's picture

I think I like you better on Pacific time!

+5 HS
Byaaaahhh's picture

Just waiting for the announcement that Kirk will visit. After all the hype around here praising him, I'm excited at the prospect of him suiting up in scarlet and gray.

+1 HS
Kevbo714's picture

We, as fans, are very fortunate to be able to have your insight shared with us... Just letting you know that it is appreciated. Thanks Birm!

Tom Crean listens to Nickelback...

+4 HS
BuckeyeGrownFloridaLiving's picture

I'd love Kirk but I'm fine with settling if we can get Cager and Jefferson to the Good Guys.

BeijingBucks's picture

i have to be honest.  sadness would ensue.  I have no idea if I am just being a sucker for a position player like the old days but i will be a little saddened if Kirk doesn't make the visit.  I was in school during the Galloway, Glenn, Boston, etc etc years and always remembered OSU as WR U.  we even had subpar QBs look amazing with our WRs.  Far easier for a great WR to make a normal QB look good (when they arm punt *cough*) than a poor WR make a great QB look good.  Incompletions don't show whose fault it was

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

+3 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Come on by the cotton club I sing there every Tuesday and Sat nites... I will be the guy in the Woody Baseball cap singing and playing the blues!

BeijingBucks's picture

Nice!  Will certainly find you!  I'm hopping on a plane now to the hai and was planning to do cotton club tonight. 

Ha. Let me fix that random down vote for ya

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

2morrow's picture

Excellent point.

Shangheyed's picture

Having the Best D Line going at you EVERYDAY will help this young and inexperienced OL get better FAST....

OL is still is a worry but the tools are in place for them to succeed... great coach, great conditioning, great offensive scheme, and a daily dose of the best DT and DE combination in CF, Saturday will be like a day off.   The rest is up to the players are they making that leap... many are DL converts with less experience than their school year intimates...

As the OL goes so does our chances for Nat. Championship.

-1 HS
Killer nuts's picture

Thanks for all that you do, Birm

+4 HS
whiskeyjuice's picture

If OSU has a successful season, you would think that could/would change some of the perception of the top prospects. I hope the Bucks get the business done one game at a time.

"Championships are not won on Saturdays in November. Championships are won on Tuesdays in August." -- Kerry Combs

+1 HS
2morrow's picture

OL will be fine - Warriner has to be one of the top position coaches in college. I want to see BM come out and throw some short passes to get his confidence up every game and start to utilize ALL of the OSU weapons. That will help us recruit offense in the future. Want to see BM carry the ball very little this year. I think also the Johnson philosophy of rotating DL is also a big recruiting advantage and our DL should be awesome this year. My biggest concern is at linebacker and defensive back. If they struggle early, I say play the young guys right away and get them some experience. We should have great talent in the back 7.

+1 HS
bleedscarlet's picture

When Coach Meyer lands Harris, we'll have to change his nickname from "The Closer" to "The Savior".... not ours, Harris'. It would be a shame for all that talent to be wasted on UK.

Slingin' swag since 1970


-1 HS
Turtlebuster's picture

It feels like skill position recruiting has hit a tiny bit of a speed bump thus far. Perhaps its because of all the young talent already in Columbus, maybe its just bad luck. OSU has been fortunate to land that "homerun hitter" type player the last few cycles (Wilson,Samuel). Kirk is obviously that guy this year but with him trending away, id be curious if there is anyone else that would fit that "homerun" label , that OSU has a legit shot at. Does OSU get a guy like that this class or turn its sights onto the 2016 kids?

STL Buckeye's picture

I feel like besides the defensive line haul a couple of years ago, our best group of players have been the offensive skill position players. Plus since we have so many, I think there's a good chance many of them may redshirt, further extending their careers. Just a couple of years ago, many said Jalin Marshall was the best playmaker we've gotten since Theodore Ginn, and Jalin (albeit he had injuries) wasn't even able to get on the field last year.

I think this gives Urban and the staff much more flexibility to only go after players they truly want, and if they miss on a few, it won't hurt nearly as bad.

-1 HS
Jbuckham94's picture

This is the first time I've even heard someone mention Calvin Ridley is being recruited by OSU, let alone say Zach Smith is a major player in his recruitment. Birm, getting a recruit on campus is always the first step, so wht are the chances we get an official from him?

Class of 2016. Go Bucks!

Hayze's picture

He already visited for camp and has an official set up for Virginia Tech.

Birm has said in a past article that he thinks we can be a major player for him.

+2 HS
Jbuckham94's picture

Wow I completely missed that then haha. Ridley is the wide receiver committed to Alabama and played lights out at the Opening right? That would be really impressive if we could pick him up.

Class of 2016. Go Bucks!

+1 HS
Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Yes, that's him.

nfischer's picture

Usually I am uninterested in middling SEC teams during the college football season, but I will definitely be routing for the implosion of UK's football program this year.  Every loss will be a Buckeye win in the recruitment race for Harris.

+1 HS
YTOWNBUCKI's picture

Thanks, Birm, for providing the absolute best recruiting beats in the nation.  You need a raise.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors

Go get your shine box, Gumar!

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Thanks Birm for the insights. I can't believe all the depth we could have in the offensive line if we get Burrell, Richmond, and Daniels.  The freshmen coming in and what we already have enquired it should make for some interesting 1 on 1 drills.

I may not be the sharpest crayon in the box but I'm one of the most colorful.

-1 HS
bbb's picture

Thank you Mr. Brimingheim

+1 HS
HeuermanTheFireman's picture


Do you think the ATM (Texas A&M) having a bad season could push Kirk back toward the good guys? On top of being very cerebral about the process he seems like a supreme competitor and a guy who cares about winning. Could this factor sway him?

Thank you sire for all you do.

The person responsible for toes clearly wanted you to stub them.

-1 HS
swainpm's picture

Hey Birm I have seen on 247 that one of the top LBs in the country Malik Jefferson (Mesquite, TX) has an official visit setup. Is this just for the trip? He never gets discussed on here, have you ever talked with him/heard anything? I see Herman is recruiting him. Thanks.

bucks15's picture

Thanks again for the work you do Birm.  It's always good to get a "State of the Union" on recruiting, especially during the offseason.  

-1 HS
BUCKSOMIES's picture

Thanks Birm.  love the insights.

-1 HS
NStahl94's picture

Anything on Drew Richmond Birm I see you have him crystal balled to Memphis which is confusing me. Are the Tigers a legitimate threat to OSU, UT, Auburn, Ole Miss?

+1 HS
ronbizi's picture

Don't take that crystal ball to Memphis seriously.  It sounds like its a Tenn/OSU battle.

Crimson's picture

It was a joke to see how many people would ask about the Memphis CB.

+1 HS
BeijingBucks's picture

Ha. U fell in  the chasm

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

NStahl94's picture

Haha if so...dang it Birm I valued your crystal ball!

Joe Beale's picture

Another great update. Thanks Birm!

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I work with a lady who is close friends with Van Jefferson's family. She told me today that Van has scheduled a visit with UGA and that his dad prefers UGA. With that said, she told me that Van's parents will ultimately let him pick where he goes to school. 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Might make sense in the respect that Van was supposed to announce last week but didn't - although from my conversations with Shawn Jefferson at The Opening he told me personally hadn't ever been to Georgia, so I am not sure how he would favor them..