Welcome to another edition of the Ohio State football recruiting notebook. We'll wrap the week up for you and give a preview of what's coming up next.
It was the biggest recruiting weekend of the year, and Ohio State took full advantage of their opportunities to make an impression on the visitors. We'll look back at the weekend that was and hear from a few of the recruits in attendance.
A number of current commits were also in attendance and continue to form a bond, we'll hear from some of them as they recap the weekend.
No new scholarship offers went out this week, but another one of Ohio State's top 2014 targets scheduled his official visit, we'll tell you who that is and take a look at his recruitment.
With the 2014 recruiting season nearing the light at the end of the tunnel, the final pieces of the class are beginning to become a bit clearer. We'll take a look at how the class could possibly finish.
Many future Buckeyes continue to shine on the high school gridiron, we'll check in on how they did this past week and look forward to this weeks upcoming games.
Join us after the jump to recap the week and see what's next to come in Ohio State football recruiting.
The week that was
It was an incredible weekend for Ohio State recruiting - big win against rival, electric night game atmosphere, LeBron - and for the more than 50 recruits in attendance, it's safe to say Ohio State made a good impression.
The weekend was headlined by 2014 targets Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith, Mike Gesicki, JuJu Smith, Johnnie Dixon and Travis Rudolph. Of those in attendance however, Mike Gesicki appears to be the closest to making a decision. Gesicki continues to play the process rather close to the vest and still plans to visit Penn State before making his decision later this fall. That being said, he had some very positive things to say about the visit:
Just watched Lebron James give a pre-game speech in the team room, so sick. #buckeyes This is the real deal
— MG (@mikegesicki) September 28, 2013
Many of the commits were also working really hard on Gesicki, who visits Penn State next weekend and is expected to make a decision afterwards.
In addition to working on other recruits, the commits got a chance to bond with each other and, in the case of a few, got to see a game at the Shoe for the first time. I got a chance to talk with Terry McLaurin before the game, as this was actually his first time seeing the Buckeyes play in person. Terry told me that he was most looking forward to "being around the other commits in that atmosphere," and seeing how electric the Shoe really gets. Mission accomplished Terry, as 16 commits in total were on campus for the weekend and had a great time. "The Dream 14" is shaping up to be a close-knit group and it will be really exciting to watch them over the years.
It sounds like Ohio State made an impression on JuJu Smith, who visited shortly after being released from the hospital. Smith was taken from his game in an ambulance after suffering from numbness most likely caused by a shoulder stinger. Smith was released from the hospital and hopped on a plane to Ohio State for his official visit. Any potential questions about Smith's interest in Ohio State coming into the visit were put to rest by the efforts he made to get on campus. Even more, Smith was on campus until Monday and Stephen Collier's mom said she thought Smith really enjoyed himself.
Maybe it's just a gut feeling, but I'm starting to like Ohio State's chances with Smith. Smith's recruitment was already starting to trend out of California with the troubles at USC, and the Buckeyes had a great opportunity to make an impression on him with his first official visit. Keep your eye on Smith's recruitment as it continues to heat up.
For those curious about one of Urban's signature "surprise commitments," Smith and Johnnie Dixon fit the mold. Both have expressed a great deal of interest in Ohio State and actually made it across the country for a visit. All indications are Johnnie Dixon's visit went great, and Ohio State continues to have serious interest in him. I think Dixon probably stays in Florida, but like Smith there is just a gut feeling that he could eventually end up wearing scarlet and gray.
Top 2014 target Thomas Holley scheduled his official visit this week. Holley will now be visiting Ohio State on October 19th for the Iowa game, one week after his first official visit to Penn State. Ohio State, Notre Dame and Penn State are currently battling for Holley's services, but Ohio State is considered the leader and Holley is a huge target for Ohio State, who is pretty thin at defensive tackle.
After such a big recruiting weekend that saw many of Ohio State's top targets in attendance, let's take a look at where the remaining commitments could come from. For the purpose of this, let's say Ohio State has 6 spots left (they probably will take between 5-7 more). Ohio State's main remaining targets are (in no particular order): Raekwon McMillan (LB), Damian Prince (OT), Thomas Holley (DT), Solomon Thomas (DE), Marshon Lattimore (CB), Erick Smith (S/ATH), Chad Mavety (OT), Mike Gesicki (TE), John "JuJu" Smith (S/ATH), Travis Rudolph (WR) and Johnnie Dixon (WR).
Ohio State's biggest needs right now are inside linebacker and defensive tackle, while adding one more offensive lineman, defensive back and tight end are also priorities. With that in mind, I think that Ohio State closes out it's class with Raekwon McMillan, Thomas Holley, Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith, Mike Gesicki, one of the offensive lineman and a "surprise" (OK I lied, that's seven).
Ohio State has always been the favorite for McMillan and I think the relationships he has with Urban Meyer and the staff will be enough to overcome the distance factor.
I've talked about the Glenville duo a bit over the past few weeks and, unless I hear otherwise, I'm going to continue to feel strongly about them committing to Ohio State. Both have been considered heavy Ohio State leans for a while and I expect Ohio State to hang on in the end despite a strong effort from both Kentucky and Michigan.
Holley and Gesicki's recruitments are intriguing, as Penn State could possibly be the favorite for both if it weren't for the sanctions. That being said, both are really high priorities for the Buckeyes and I don't think the staff will let them get away. Holley's visit to Ohio State in a couple weeks and Gesicki's visit to Penn State next week will help clear up the situation.
So that leaves an offensive lineman and a surprise. As far as the offensive lineman goes, Damian Prince and Chad Mavety are the most likely targets and I expect Ohio State to land one of them. I think Maryland is the favorite for Prince but Ohio State is the dark horse in his recruitment. As for Mavety, Ohio State is probably the leader for his services. If I had to say right now, I think Mavety is the more likely of the two to pick Ohio State but I expect one of them to sign with Ohio State when it is all said and done. I think Prince is probably higher on the staff's board, so that may be a factor in the recruitment as well. If and when Prince and Mavety make it to Columbus for an official visit we will have a better idea of where the offensive line recruiting stands.
As for the "surprise," I think there will be at least one unexpected commitment as signing day approaches – much like Dontre Wilson and Vonn Bell, last year. Possible candidates for the "surprise" could be be John Smith, Johnnie Dixon, Solomon Thomas and Jamal Adams (visiting Oct. 26). Smith and Thomas are logical candidates due to turmoil surrounding their hometown favorites (USC and Texas respectively) and Johnnie Dixon and Jamal Adams are candidates due to making cross-country visits to see Ohio State, which says a lot about their interest.
So that is sort of my rationale when it comes to who could finish out the class and if I had to decide today, I think Ohio State finishes with: McMillan, Holley, Lattimore, Erick Smith, Gesicki and Mavety. It would be an amazing finish to a great class (possibly the best in the country) and would fill the Buckeyes remaining needs.
High school football preview
Be sure to check out Birm's complete report on last week's games here.
|QB||Stephen Collier||Lee County (Ga.)||at Columbus Hardaway (Ga.)||Won 28-14. Had 10 yard rushing TD and led his team on 2 80+ yard touchdown drives.|
|WR||Parris Campbell||St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio)||Canal Fulton Northwest (Ohio)||Won 41-6. Had an 18 yard rushing TD and a 78 yard pick six.|
|WR||Terry McLaurin||Cathedral (Ind.)||at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (Ind.)||Lost 35-30. Visited Ohio State for his first game this weekend.|
|OT||Jamarco Jones||De La Salle (Ill.)||at Burbank St. Lawrence (Ill.)||Won 42-7 (DNP - shoulder surgery)|
|OT||Kyle Trout||Lancaster (Ohio)||at Groveport-Madison (Ohio)||Lost 35-6.|
|OG||Marcelys Jones||Glenville (Ohio)||at Cleveland John Adams (Ohio)||Won 53-7.|
|OG||Demetrius Knox||All Saints Episcopal (Texas)||Arlington Oakridge (Texas)||Won 48-13 to move to 5-0 on the season.|
|DE||Jalyn Holmes||Lake Taylor (Va.)||Chesterfield Bird (Va.)||Won 56-0 in his first game back after serving 2-game suspension.|
|DE||Dylan Thompson||Montini Catholic (Ill.)||Elmhurst IC Catholic Prep (Ill.)||Won 27-3. 7 tackles including 2 sacks, 2 other TFL and a forced fumble.|
|OLB||Kyle Berger||Ignatius (Ohio)||Indianapolis Lawrence Central (Ind.)||Won 44-10 (DNP - ACL recovery)|
|OLB||Dante Booker||St. Vincent-St. Mary (Ohio)||Canal Fulton Northwest (Ohio)||Won 41-6. Led dominating defensive performance with 9.5 tackles.|
|CB||Damon Webb||Cass Tech (Mich.)||Detroit Ford (Mich.)||Won 76-0. Had a 52-yard receiving TD and 51-yard punt return TD.|
|S||Malik Hooker||New Castle (Pa.)||at Beaver Falls Blackhawk (Pa.)||Won 47-12. 3 TDs in the 2nd quarter alone (rushing, receiving, kick return). Finished with 72 rushing yards and 105 receiving yards.|
|ATH||Noah Brown||Pope John XXIII (N.J.)||at Montville (N.J.)||Won 35-3. Brown had 204 receiving yards and 4 TDs (3 of 40+).|
|ATH||Sam Hubbard||Moeller (Ohio)||Cincinnati LaSalle (Ohio)||Won 20-17 (OT). Broke up several passes playing safety.|
|ATH||Lonnie Johnson||West Side (Ind.)||Hammond Morton (Ind.)||Won 60-0.|
|ATH||Curtis Samuel||Erasmus Hall (N.Y.)||Brooklyn Fort Hamilton (N.Y.)||Won 47-0. Check out his early season highlights.|
|K||Sean Nuernberger||Oldham County (Ky.)||Bye||4/4 on touchbacks, 3/3 on extra points.|
|TE||Mike Gesicki||Southern Reg (N.J.)||Brick Township (N.J.)||Won 35-7. See above and Birm's article for more on his visit.|
|OT||Chad Mavety||Nassau C.C. (N.Y.)||Hudson Valley C.C. (N.Y.)||Won 32-13. Visiting 11/26 for Indiana game.|
|OT||Damian Prince||Bishop McNamara (Md.)||Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.)||Won 48-13. Still no official visits scheduled.|
|DT||Thomas Holley||Abraham Lincoln (N.Y.)||at Campus Magnet (N.Y.)||Won 26-6. Scheduled official visit this week for 10/19 (Iowa game).|
|ILB||Raekwon McMillan||Liberty County (Ga.)||at Glenn Hills (Ga.)||Won 31-0. Visited Georgia this weekend and had a great time - enough for him to hint at top 3 of OSU, Clemson and Georgia.|
|S||Erick Smith||Glenville (Ohio)||at Cleveland John Adams (Ohio)||Won 53-7. Visited this weekend and OSU remains favorite.|
|ATH||Marshon Lattimore||Glenville (Ohio)||at Cleveland John Adams (Ohio)||Won 53-7. Visited this weekend and OSU remains favorite.|
|ATH||Eric Glover-Williams*||Canton McKinley (Ohio)||at Massilon Jackson||Won 18-14. Didn't play much after tweaking ankle. 60 passing yards and 1 TD, 3 carries for 17 yards.|
Ohio State hits the road to take on Northwestern this weekend and has a bye next weekend, so visitors won't be in town for a couple weeks until Ohio State hosts Iowa, Oct. 19. The Iowa weekend is shaping up to be a pretty important weekend already, with Thomas Holley and 2015 top target Justin Hilliard planning to be in attendance.
The following weekend is probably the second biggest one of the year for the Buckeyes, with several recruits in town for another night game (including five-star Raekwon McMillan). In the meantime, be on the lookout for Mike Gesicki to announce his college choice around the third or fourth week of October and hey, you never know when a surprise commitment may happen.