Football Recruiting: Notre Dame's Troubles, DeAndre McNeal's Decision and More

By Jeremy Birmingham on August 17, 2014 at 11:15a
Tommy Kraemer and Urban Meyer

Five-star Cincinnati Elder tackle Tommy Kraemer


Good morning friends and welcome to your Sunday recruiting rewind-slash-update. As Ohio State's football camp moves full-speed ahead, the recruiting efforts necessarily slow but that didn't stop the week that was from offering some ripe pieces of recruiting fruit, including the surprise commitment of Miam's Carlton Davis. 

A number of Ohio State targets litter the initial 2017 rankings, including quarterback commitment Danny Clark, who spoke with us this week about his upcoming sophomore season. One of Clark's biggest (and yes, earliest) targets for 2017, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) wide receiver Trevon Grimes also updated us on his recruitment, naming the Buckeyes his current leader

Outside of Clark and Grimes, we also introduced a few new names to the board: Gunnar Hoak, who might be the state's top class of 2016 quarterback, 2017 defensive back prospect Marcus Williamson from nearby Westerville, and another Columbus standout, 2016's Austin Andrews. Finally, we wrapped up the week with an inside look at Michael Onwenuwho the Buckeyes hope will be the next in their developing Cass Tech pipeline, and Mike Williams, a former teammate of Demetrius Knox, who received a Buckeye offer late in the week.

Here are a few other things that are worth talking about.


As Buckeye fans, you'd think that the first reaction to any and all alleged impropriety at a rival football program's expense would be something along the lines of Well, we know it can happen to anyone, so let's be thankful it's not Ohio State, right? Of course not. The first reaction is — unfortunately — almost always: Hahahahaha! You guys suck! Now all your recruits are belong to us!

So, as news broke on Friday of academic fraud/dishonesty under the Golden Dome, I was flooded with one question from readers: Can Ohio State use this to their advantage?

A natural question, certainly, but still remarkably cynical. Doing my job though, I followed up with a few recruits that are entertaining Ohio State or Notre Dame decisions. Of those, one is already committed to Notre Dame and two are still narrowing down their college choices, but the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish are widely considered the favorites. What I found was this: kids are significantly more objective than fans clamoring for blood from their rivals while wearing a thinly-veiled, faux-outraged "integrity of the game" facade. Also, kids aren't paying attention to the same stuff adults are, at least not in the middle of a Friday afternoon.

"I haven't even heard of a Notre Dame academic scandal," said one of the key targets for the Buckeyes and the Irish in the 2016 class. "It's definitely a concern, but I'd wait for the whole story to come out before I decide if it impacts me."

Hmmm...strangely adult decision making, nameless recruit. Surely we can find a bit more disappointment from someone else.

"I'm not paying a ton of attention to it," said a 2016 five-star talent considering Ohio State and Notre Dame, and not really anyone else. "It was the students and the players own fault for cheating or whatever they did, it was not the football staff."

Another player, committed to the Irish but with a Buckeye offer was similarly disaffected. 

"I've just heard the general stuff," the 2015 prospect said. "It's not impacting me at all right now so I won't even think about it unless more comes out that impacts the future."

There you have it, Buckeye fans. Yes, the scandal is a blight on Notre Dame, but based on what's currently known, it won't impact much in the way of recruiting. Of course, as Buckeye fans know more than most, these things have a way of lingering and dropping surprises so who knows how "deep it went" at Notre Dame, right?

Garner, North Carolina running back Nyheim Hines remains a player to watch for Ohio State. One of the fastest players in the country, Hines says he stays in touch with the Buckeyes regularly.

"I talk to Urban Meyer and other coaches at Ohio State weekly," Hines told 11W. "I'm definitely considering an official visit there, but I've got no idea where or when my officials will be yet."

Of all the players who camped at Ohio State this summer, there may not have been anyone who stood out more to observers and coaches than Mesquite, Texas athlete DeAndre McNeal.  With offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Texas Tech, Miami, Oklahoma State, UCLA, Texas, Vanderbilt and a host of others, McNeal's recruitment continues to be as wide-open as the discussion about his future position. Is he a receiver? A tight end? A linebacker? No one really knows but we do know that he'll announce his college choice on December 20th, one day after his Poteet High School teammate Malik JeffersonWhether or not McNeal will be at Ohio State when they host Illinois as his teammate will be, that remains to be seen. Remember folks: offers >> rankings.

One 2016 player most people felt would be a Buckeye soon after getting an offer, Gahanna Lincoln's Jonathon Cooper, isn't ready to narrow his list down just yet. He is, however, attempting to bring his weight up.

"I'm eating a lot of calories a day, I want to be at 235-240 pounds coming out of high school," Cooper told Eleven Warriors. "I eat an apple and cereal and a protein bar for breakfast, usually at lunch I'll eat Subway or something like that because I work out for a few hours. For dinner I'll eat two burritos from Chipotle if we go out and if we stay in it's all chicken, broccoli, rice, corn and more chicken (laughs)."

The Buckeyes, who offered the four-star after a strong camp showing at Friday Night Lights, see Cooper as a defensive end in their defense and that's what he wants to play in college. He says a decision could come towards the end of his junior season and the Buckeyes, along with Kentucky and Michigan State, are near the top of his list. We'll have more with Cooper later this week.

We told you about the offer to 2017 CB Deangelo Gibbs and I got the chance to talk with him a bit following his offer. He's not really that into the recruiting scene yet, but he did have a few interesting things to say. Despite being a Georgia native and growing up in SEC country, Gibbs says he never followed any particular team growing up and that the SEC, while a great conference, doesn't have any built-in edge for him. He's also not entirely familiar with Bradley Roby or Cameron Heyward, who each starred at his high school. He knows "they were both really good players and they chose a great school."


Comments Show All Comments

ab1993's picture

One key target between OSU and ND and a five star target between the two...... Hmm wonder who that could be...

+2 HS
KBonay's picture


Who do you feel is our priority for 2016 QB?

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

I think Dwayne Haskins, Malik Henry and Jarrett Guarantano are all right at the top of the list. Will be interesting to see who commits first of that group.

jonping67's picture

Birm - If Gibson's commits to tOSU, do you think Haskins or Henry would still commit?

I would like Haskins or Henry to be the 2016 class leader.

KansasBuckeye's picture

Where does Pass fall on that list of 2016 QBs, Birm?

buckeyedexter's picture

I live a block away from Gahanna HS, I'll have to check out some games this fall and see how Cooper does.

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

If ND really begins to look bad at the national level, recruits must begin to have second thoughts. But since the NCAA is now irrelevant, I doubt that will happen.

+1 HS
j12harris's picture

ND is not a part of the 5 power conferences therefore they are under the NCAA's curtain


gumtape's picture

It seems like we are doing better recruiting against the domers anyway, Hilliard was a priority and he is as solid of a verbal as you can get. It might matter for 2016 and beyond if there are any sanctions (doubtful, ask UNC).

High and tight boo boo

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Notre Dame beat OSU for Jimmy Byrne in 2014, Shaun Crawford and Elijah Taylor in 2015 and are the leaders in my mind for both Liam Eichenberg and Tommy Kraemer, and are not far behind for Jake Hausmann in 2016.

They've done a great job recruiting Ohio the last two cycles and Kelly's staff is a major part of that. 

ibuck's picture

I hope 11W follows up on this Notre Dame story, and what happens to these four players, one of whom was a 5-star recruit (Ishaq Williams) and three 4-star recruits. The crucial question is whether any Notre Dame coaches or staff are involved. 

This type of thing has happened at OSU (in mens hoops, as I recall), and could happen again, but hopefully without any staff involvement.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

305Buck's picture

If ND coaches did in fact know that these players were committing academic fraud, which I have heard may have been the case, but it's not exactly known right now, then it will affect these recruits because I assume the coaches will be fired.

osu78's picture

I'll say this much for ND. They seem to be handling the situation correctly, getting out in front of it and taking steps to address it. I also think they are doing that not to protect their football program but because they really value their academic integrity. While I am sure stuff goes on their like any other school I would be very surprised to find out the administration turned a blind eye to it or said "Let's deal with this...(wink) (wink) (knowing nod)" as would happen at some other schools. For that, I respect them and their program.

+4 HS
TURD_BUCKET's picture

Agreed. Most likely the players only. Not the coaches, staff, administrators, etc. No need for the NCAA as the university will be much tougher than the NCAA. ND tends to treat their athletes the same as their students. Their QB was not just kicked off the team for 2013, he was kicked out of school, for academic issues.

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” John Wooden

+1 HS
Shangheyed's picture

I don't know it seems very convenient that for two yrs in a row their players are "on there own" cheating on exams.... no one knows why their QB was sent away for a year... ok we like the penalty but its happening again (even after the example made) it might be a more serious problem.

What I am thinking is Kelly will very seriously consider going to a pro coaching position after this season... He was considering last year but might be these issues whether they come to a head or not will force him or more likely make him fed up with the management outside of football and jump to the NFL.

Agree ND will do a better job of setting an example than most schools... but are they really cleaning up the culture when it looks like cheating on exams is axtually getting worse not better afte last year.

BoFuquel's picture

Just contributes to the possibility of more playing time quicker. Advantage; The Whore Of South Bend. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

-3 HS
awlinBrutus's picture

How about 2014?.lol anything


avail31678's picture

The 2014 recruiting class is done and signed and in camp right now.  2015 is the "current" class.