Damien Harris, Matt Burrell, Van Jefferson Highlight List of Familiar Names

By Jeremy Birmingham on August 4, 2014 at 2:30p
Four-star Virginia offensive tackle prospect Matthew Burrell.

There's an oft-repeated adage that swirls around recruiting and recruiting websites: "recruiting is fluid." Things change, targets change, minds change and more often than not in the case of Urban Meyer's tenure at Ohio State, they change for the better. Lose on one player, strike gold with one that might be a better fit. Miss out on a prospect you thought would be a slam-dunk, sign one that was originally a long-shot. Ebb and flow, hit and miss, everything is fluid, everything works out.

That has been the case, usually. Somehow, this recruiting cycle feels different. With 14 committed players in the "Elite '15," and a class that will likely end up around 20-21 players, it seems the names and faces we're talking about today are the same players we've been talking about — waiting on — for months. 

As we prepare for the real football season, with practices underway today, the recruiting noise will quiet down, at least temporarily. With that in mind, we'll take a look at a few of the Buckeyes remaining high-priority targets and where things sit in their recruitment. Let's get started at tailback, where the nation's top recruit at the position narrowed down his list from eight to five this past Friday.

Damien Harris, the Kentucky native and former Michigan commitment, moved his list from eight to five, and as one would expect, Ohio State is definitely involved. 

As you review Harris' list, a few things will clearly stand out to most of you. Yes, Ohio State, Alabama, and Kentucky are on the list as one would expect, but that's not it. The Wolverines are not on the list anymore, and that goes along with what we've been saying for a while now: there was not much of a chance he was going to end up back in Ann Arbor. Perhaps more interesting that Michigan's exclusion, is the inclusion of Texas A&M, who offered Harris just hours before he released his list.

Are the Aggies a real threat? Sure, if he visits, of course they are. However, what it really seems to suggest is that his list of legitimate contenders could be much smaller than five. In fact, it's likely two. Yes, Florida, Alabama and A&M are not to be trifled with because it's not unusual for any of them land big-time recruits, but this has felt like a Buckeye and Wildcat battle for some time now and I don't think that will ultimately change. 

Harris certainly isn't the only player left on Ohio State's board that they've been waiting seemingly forever on, especially on offense. Wide receivers Van Jefferson and Christian Kirk continue to be the top targets, as they've been for the majority of the last year. 

Jefferson has been to Ohio State a handful of times and after every visit, the drumbeats of a pending commitment get louder. Then, as time goes on, the worry he'll end up at Tennessee or Georgia or Clemson or anywhere but Ohio State reemerges and the handwringing starts all over. There were rumors he was going to commit on July 26th, his birthday: he didn't. There were rumors he was going to commit this past Saturday: he didn't. Van himself doesn't engage in social media or care much for media and interviews and his parents, irked by too-regular probing from people trying to get the story, have all but shut down their communication as well. 

I spent a lot of time talking with his parents while at The Opening and there were only two things I know for sure from those talks. First, the interest in Ohio State is genuine, on Van's part and his parent's. Second, the goal was to have a decision made by the time his senior season at Ravenwood High School rolled around, and that's coming 'round the mountain. There's no way to know when Van will commit, or where, but I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts it won't be much longer before the story reveals itself. Ohio State feels good, not great, about their chances to land him. 

As I mentioned previously, things seem to be fading as it pertains to Ohio State and Christian Kirk, the nation's 4th-ranked wide receiver. The Scottsdale, Arizona-native made two separate trips to Columbus this year, and has said the Buckeyes are going to get one of his official visits, but nothing has been scheduled yet. He's a perfect fit for Urban Meyer's offense and a player the Buckeyes will not give up their chase for until February comes around and signing day happens. What went wrong here? Nothing, really, but in recruiting absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder.

After the skill positions, the Buckeyes have continued to pursue two big names along the offensive line in Drew Richmond and Matt Burrell. The pair of tackles, Richmond from Tennessee and Burrell from talent-rich Virginia, have never hidden their affection for the Buckeyes, but neither of them appear close to ending the year-plus long recruitment. Richmond will make a decision on September 9th, but it's unlikely that his verbal pledge that day will end his recruitment. There's many who believe that whatever school the 6-foot-5, 320-pound Richmond is almost sure not to end up at the school he selects that day.

With Burrell, I've been more adamant than most in my belief he will choose Ohio State, and I still feel that is the most likely outcome. His recent trips to Florida State and Florida left a major impression on him, however, and things are a bit murkier now than they've been previously. Ironically, many top players go here, there and everywhere to check out different schools believing it will provide clarity on a choice, when all it really does is show them more possibilities. Comfort and relationships almost always wins out, and with Burrell, that's still a Buckeye win. 

Tomorrow night, we'll take an in-depth look at a number of defensive players the Buckeyes are still hoping to land in 2015. 


Comments Show All Comments

ECSAGESTER's picture

Birm, do you believe if Gibson chooses the Buckeyes as a QB, that would help our chances with Kirk? The way Murray at A&M has been recruiting and fostering a relationship with Kirk makes it seem like A&M has a definitive advantage. If Gibson chooses Ohio State, could that help start a relationship with Kirk that could neutralize his relationship with Murray? 

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Not going to say it helps, but it certainly doesn't hurt. It's not just A&M that has a QB developing strong relationships with Kirk, it's also USC and UCLA. Yes, Kirk and Gibson are aware of one another, but they've not spent the time together Kirk has with the others. Aside from that, Kirk is likely to decide around the same time Gibson will, so it's moot anyway.

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

I know I'm not Birm, but Kyle Allen was his QB in high school just last year.

Norwalk's picture

I don't think so. They are both from Scottsdale but from different schools...unless Kirk just recently transferred to Saguaro after playing with Allen at Desert Mountain. 

+1 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

Some confusion here?  Kyler Murray is from Allen, Texas.  Great QB going to Texas A&M. Kyle Allen is from Arizona and also going to A&M.  So that that is is that that is not. Is it not?  It is!  :-D

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

Hayze's picture

Great article Birm.

A few guys I think should have been included on this list are Torrence Gibson, Lawrence Cager and Isaiah Prince. I think we're in the thick of it for all three and all three could end up Buckeyes.

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I left Gibson off because the "chase" for him is renewed, rather than continuing. With Cager, he's a guy who is very likely (IMO) to end up in Columbus, but is a new name on the scene for the Buckeyes and Prince? I just don't see that happening unless things don't work out with Burrell/Richmond.

Hayze's picture

Thanks for the response.

I guess I thought the point of the artcile was guys still on the board who could end up in Columbus. I thought Prince was going to official visit, so that's why I included him.

The others I agree with!

Ahh Saturday's picture


Does a commitment from Van Jefferson impact Cager's position in this class for either the staff or Cager himself?  If Jefferson commits elsewhere is there another WR the Buckeyes start pursuing a little harder?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

The two aren't related. They'd like two WRs at least in this class and those two are both "in" if they want in. If Kirk, or someone else out of the blue like Calvin Ridley, George Campbell, etc decides they want in, they'll find room.

bakerjon's picture

Good roundup of the offensive side of the ball. I think we still have greater need on that side remaining in 2015. The defensive side of the ball seems stacked.  

There are 2-3 options at positions other than RB.  Wondering if we have a game plan if Harris spurns us. With a full stable of backs right now and a good option already in the 2016 fold, would we skip on RB this year?

"You do what I cannot do. I do what you cannot do. Together we do great things"

Hayze's picture

I would think the gameplan would be go hard after Michael Weber and the Ohio guys (Darrin Hall or flip Scott). There are also the NC boys (Bryce Love and Nyheim Hines) that we could renew interest with. We could also purue Dexter Williams who liked us a lot prior to his Miami commitment.

bakerjon's picture

Good info Hayze. Those are some names I've not heard much about. Thanks for the education

"You do what I cannot do. I do what you cannot do. Together we do great things"

Mortc15's picture

A solid class already that could turn out great yet again by the time it's over and signed. 


KansasBuckeye's picture

Birm, any news on Jordan Whitehead?  I feel like he could be added to this list as a bit more of an under-the-radar sort of recruit.  I know there was some talk about his time at FNL where he and Urban Meyer were engaged in some serious conversation that ended with a UFM fist pump (or something of the sort), but I never heard anything additional about him.  He seems like a real candidate to be one of the next commits.  Any insight you could lend to his recruitment? 

Also interested in Neville Gallimore and Christian Wilkins if you have time.

georgiabuckeye's picture

Towards the end Birm said they'd be looking at defensive prospects tomorrow

+2 HS
KansasBuckeye's picture

Ohp.  So he did.  I appreciate the gently pointing out of my error, GeorgiaBuckeye.  Evidently I read real good.

+2 HS
georgiabuckeye's picture

Don't mention it, I was thinking the same thing till I read it over again. And reading real good is still better than a majority of what SEC fans can do

+1 HS
osu07asu10's picture

Birm, solid work as always.

Sticking with FNL, with the commitment of Josh Moore and the rather uninspiring play of C.J. Conrad...is that all she wrote for Conrad in this class or are you still firm on the 2 TEs in this class and is Conrad still vying for the 2nd spot?

What other TE prospects should we be looking at if Conrad is out?

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

PasadenaBuckeye626's picture

I was really hoping that we would land Kirk.  Hopefully, an official visit can help us out.

Go Bucks!

BroJim's picture

Thanks for another great update; I'll be looking for your post tomorrow. 

I season my simple food with hunger

weimerad's picture

Birm, you said that there are many who feel that Richmonds choice on Sept. 9 won't stick. Why do they feel that way? And if he selects OSU or Tenn, does he still end up changing his selection come signing day? And if he does choose OSU in Sept how confident are you that Urban can hold on to him?

motobuckeye's picture

How often does an elite player, such as Kirk, with the spots at his position filled up, actually want in?  Also, how does the staff go about that kind if situation?

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great, recruiting info!  Love getting the latest on what is going on.


Go Bucks!!