The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.
Jayden Ballard at The Opening Regional
Four-star Massillon wide receiver Jayden Ballard was able to show his skills at The Opening Regional on Sunday, and he came away from the showcase looking exactly like what he is – one of the best receivers in the 2021 class.
There weren’t many sophomores at the event Sunday and only three total players from Washington High School, the host school in Massillon, Ohio, but Ballard fit both of those descriptions.
“I feel like it was a great performance from my point of view because I’m one of the only sophomores here,” Ballard said. “I’m one of the only kids that made it from this school, so I’m grateful for that.”
Ballard is ranked as the No. 65 overall player in the 2021 class and the No. 13 wide receiver, and watching The Opening Regional on Sunday, it was easy to see why. He displayed some of the best body control among the receivers and showed greater maturity than many of the 2020 prospects at the position. He could have been another MVP option other than 2020 wideout Maliq Carr.
After the event was finished, Massillon Washington head football coach Nate Moore reminded Ballard to send information from the event to Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline. Moore has been encouraging Ballard to keep up his contact with Hartline and other coaches to build relationships early in the recruiting process.
“He’s been in contact with Coach Hartline pretty much since (Hartline) was promoted to the position that he’s in now,” Moore said. “It’s good. (Ballard) just needs to keep up the contact. Communication is key in all relationships.”
Ballard stands at 6-foot-2, 165 pounds but has good agility and ran some of the best routes in the regional Sunday, putting several defensive backs on skates and making good catches to finish off the routes. He can clearly work at an elite high school level, but to work on a collegiate level, he will need to add weight and get stronger, he said.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and time in the weight room,” Moore said. ““The biggest thing is to go to the camps of the schools that you’re interested in and do well there. This is good. It’s really good competition and good practice for those things that are going to happen later on down the road.”
Clark Phillips on First OSU Visit
The nation’s No. 4 cornerback in the 2020 class was in Columbus last week, as he made back-to-back visits to Ohio State and Notre Dame between Friday and Saturday. It was the La Habra High School junior cornerback’s first visit to Ohio State from California, and the Ohio State staff made a great first impression, Phillips said.
“It was great,” he said about the visit. “I learned a lot about what it takes to go to Ohio State and what it takes to play at the University.”
Like most high school defensive backs, Phillips marveled at the way Ohio State consistently puts defensive backs into the NFL, including what could be Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade and Jordan Fuller in the future.
Phillips said he has developed good relationships with Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and secondary coach Jeff Hafley and that even though he had been high on the Buckeyes before making his way to Columbus, he feels more grounded in his original optimism after his visit.
“It just reaffirmed what I already knew about the staff and the players and the coaches,” Phillip said.
That affirmation is a large part of why Phillips expects the Buckeyes to be in his top three schools by the time his recruitment comes to a close, he said.
Phillips earned his Ohio State offer on Jan. 24 and has been adding offers to his list over the course of the last few months, including offers from Michigan, Clemson, Texas, Georgia and USC. He has recorded nine interceptions and 25 pass deflections in the first two years of his high school career.
Phillips also said he plans to return to Ohio State for another visit before committing.
Theo Johnson is Newest Tight End Offer
Ohio State extended an offer to Canadien tight end Theo Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, the four-star prospect announced via Twitter.
Johnson made a visit to Ohio State today and left with his offer. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound tight end our of Ontario has been garnering a lot of interest from Power 5 schools since June and has paid visits to Iowa, Penn State and Georgia before making his way to Columbus.