The Hurry-Up: Five-Star Receiver Emeka Egbuka “Playing the Waiting Game” As Oklahoma Gains Momentum, Hudson Wolfe Decision Still Coming in Next Three Weeks

By Zack Carpenter on June 1, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Emeka Egbuka

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.

Egbuka remaining patient

As we hit the month of June and hope to get more clarity on when official visits are allowed, one of the top three highest-priority targets in Ohio State’s 2021 class, Emeka Egbuka, is “just playing the waiting game right now,” one source close to the recruitment of the nation’s No. 1-ranked receiver told Eleven Warriors.

So while there is nothing groundbreaking, or any sort of breaking news, to report here, we did get some clarification about Egbuka over the weekend.

About an hour or so after the NCAA announced that it was extending the recruiting dead period through at least July 31, I spoke with a couple sources – neither of whom had yet heard that the dead period was extended once again – to get an update on Egbuka.

Egbuka is an incredibly bright person, and his approach to the recruiting process has been no different than how he approaches the classroom, where he holds a near-4.0 GPA. He is very thorough and wants to do his due diligence in making his decision. 

And here’s the obvious thing that needs to still be said – Egbuka is one of the elite prospects that can afford to wait as long as he wants before making a commitment. He’s the best in America at his position and one of the best talents in America, regardless of position. No one is going to take his spot at any of those four programs. So he is in a spot where he doesn’t have to rush to make a decision at all, and he’s not feeling rushed, able to do his homework on all four schools before coming to a conclusion.

The top-10 overall talent out of Steilacoom (Wash.) High School released his final four schools – Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Washington – a little more than two weeks ago. The narrowing of the list was done so Egbuka didn’t feel like he had to spread himself thin come the end of summer or fall – or whenever it is that we get back to normal in regards to recruiting visits being allowed again.

As of right now, Egbuka hasn’t visited Oklahoma at all, not even by himself. His dad hasn’t been to Ohio State, and his mom hasn’t been to Clemson. All three have been to Washington multiple times.

He doesn’t yet have a timetable, and even those close to him are not 100 percent sure when he will make a decision because so much of that timetable could center around when things get back to normal and when he can get out to places again. If that all gets delayed or things don’t go as planned, he will have to make a decision without visits. Personally, I’ve been given the feeling that we won’t find out until August at the earliest but perhaps not until October. 

Perhaps the school that Egbuka is hoping to visit the most is Oklahoma, as the Sooners have made a major push here of late. They weren’t put on that list simply to have an extra powerhouse program as a hat on the table.

The other three programs were high on Egbuka’s list for a long time, and he had known each one would be on his final list for a while. Oklahoma, though, came on late. Egbuka had a virtual visit with Oklahoma not too long ago that made a big impact on him. I don't believe Oklahoma is the team to beat, but that visit helped give the Sooners some major momentum.

Sooners receivers coach Dennis Simmons made a lot of visits out to Steilacoom before the pandemic shut down in-person recruiting, which helped add more impact to the multiple positive Zoom meetings with the staff as a whole and the recent virtual visit. Those coaches have gotten to know Egbuka as a person over the last several months, propelling themselves to get into that group of four. Oklahoma wasn’t doing anything the other three programs haven’t been doing all along; it just did it a little later than the other three.

All four of these programs have a common denominator – a five-star quarterback who could potentially be throwing Egbuka the ball. 

Oklahoma, I’ve been told by a source, is basically a lock to land five-star Caleb Williams, the No. 4-ranked overall player in America. And, to poke fun at myself, it’s not like I really need my own source to say that confidently. Just wander over to the 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions that have him as a 10 on the confidence scale to join Oklahoma. But, nonetheless, I’ve been told that directly.

Washington has a commitment from Sam Huard, the No. 1-ranked pro-style quarterback in 2021 who is Egbuka’s 7-on-7 teammate. Ohio State has a commitment from Kyle McCord, ranked No. 3 at pro-style quarterback. Clemson signed the No. 1-ranked pro-style quarterback, DJ Uiagalelei, in the 2020 class.

Quarterback has a lot of weight in Egbuka’s decision, and he is aware of Williams’ impending commitment to Oklahoma, as well as the Sooners’ receiver surge in landing spring commitments from Mario Williams (top 40 overall player) and Cody Jackson (top 100 overall player) to add to a high-powered offense. 

Also impactful on Egbuka is that three of those four schools have consistently: Put teams in the College Football Playoff, put receivers in the league and have great teachers at the position. 

Washington, on the other hand, is the local, hometown team that has been recruiting him the longest. Egbuka has a great relationship with Huskies receivers coach Junior Adams, who coached Steilacoom offensive coordinator Greg Herd – who has had a major helping hand in developing Egbuka – for all four of Herd’s seasons as a receiver at Eastern Washington.

Those relationships are helping bridge the gap that lies between Washington and the other three programs’ strong reputation of receiver development.

The TL;DR version of this story boils down to this: It’s only June 1, and we are still a ways away from a decision being made here, according to sources I’m confident in.

Even with all of this being said, however, this decision is going to come down solely to what Egbuka wants to do and when he wants to do it. Yes, he has been very thorough in the recruiting process, but he’s not one who particularly likes the recruiting process. It was his goal to commit before his senior season, and it’s still possible that he decides enough is enough and that he wants all of this weight off his back sooner than later.

If Egbuka is wanting to make a decision sooner than later, I believe that benefits Ohio State, which remains in a great position right now, most believing the Buckeyes are the team to beat here.

I like Ohio State’s chances of landing him, but the waiting game – like I said in the opening – still has to be played by all sides, and a commitment does not appear to be around the corner, according to the people I’ve spoken with. 

Wolfe update

Just wanted to give you guys a brief update on another of the Buckeyes’ top targets in the 2021 class – Hardin County (Tenn.) tight end Hudson Wolfe

Nothing truly new to report here that I didn’t already report on May 13 or last Monday. Just adding confidence to that report, according to one source I spoke with over the weekend. Wolfe’s timeline hasn’t changed, and he has gone into decision mode.

“His timeline remains the same. He will commit sometime in the next three weeks,” the source told Eleven Warriors. “I would say he is in the final stages and ready to make a decision. This has always kind of been his timeline, and I think he will stick to it. I hate that he missed out on his official visits, but I think he has always kind of had a schedule and wants to stick to that timeline even though he didn’t get to take those visits.”

Ole Miss is also in the final conversation here, but this is almost certainly an Ohio State-Tennessee battle. The shortened timeline without visits may or may not have given Tennessee an upper hand, but I don’t have a definitive answer on that. All I know is that Tennessee has done a fantastic job recruiting him, placing itself as a true contender against the Buckeyes here as we play the waiting game ourselves to find out Wolfe’s decision.

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