Welcome back to Tuesday night folks, where we're once again talking Buckeye football recruiting and you're invited to join us. Don't forget, it's B.Y.O.B., I'm not footing the bill for you bunch of animals.
Too much to talk about for my charming anecdotes to be front and center, so let's get into the heart of things. We'll start in Northeast Ohio, where one of the state's biggest and brightest talents for 2015 resides...
BAKER WILL VISIT OHIO STATE
Inside Ohio's borders there are two uncommitted players that sit atop the "wish list" for Ohio State and Buckeye fans alike: Jerome Baker and Justin Hilliard. Last night, Baker informed 11W that he'd be returning to Ohio State this Friday with his father, checking out the Buckeyes and what they have to offer one more time. This is another major opportunity for Urban Meyer and his coaching staff to impress the state's top talent. Baker is one of the staff's biggest recruiting targets and is as close to a "must get" as there is for the Buckeyes.
Baker also informed Eleven Warriors that the Buckeyes, who had been talking to him about playing tailback in college, are now focused on him as a linebacker.
As for Hilliard, last weekend he made what seemed to be his 450th visit to Michigan and had another great visit. The Wolverines are in great shape to land him, along with Notre Dame, Iowa, Ohio State, and Oklahoma, but his recruitment is far from over so Buckeye fans needn't worry too much at this time. The Cincinnati St. Xavier star told me at the end of last week that he'd be visiting Ohio State again sometime soon, but has not cemented a date yet.
GIBSON PREPARES FOR RECRUITING SWING
Over the weekend, Torrance Gibson (and a host of other Buckeye targets) earned an invitation to The Opening after dominating performances at the Miami Nike Football Training Camp. Gibson also had folks talking when he announced on Twitter that he was planning on visiting Ohio State over his upcoming spring break. That news was short-lived however, when he released an amended list on Twitter last night.
I will be visiting these schools during my spring break. #RoadTrip Oklahoma LSU Alabama Auburn Clemson South Carolina Florida
— Torrance Gibson (@quick_tg6) March 18, 2014
As Buckeye fans are known to do, many sunk into immediate depression upon receiving the perceived negative news. I'm here to tell you: don't freak out. It's all ok. Torrance Gibson likes the Buckeyes and will visit Ohio State, as planned, early this summer.
"My coach didn't want to add any more days to the drive," Gibson told 11W when asked what caused the change in plans. "He's the one driving so I need to just visit in the summer like I had planned."
MID-WEEK BRINGS NEW VISITORS
As we've seen in the last few days, visitor lists for this time of year are almost constantly changing. This weekend had Darius Fullwood and Chris Clark originally scheduled, but now Fullwood will visit March 29th, and Clark committed to North Carolina and will not visit. As we just noted, the Buckeyes will add a visit from Jerome Baker this weekend, and another pair of Ohioans were on campus today, Tuesday.
Rob Dowdy, a talented offensive lineman from Westerville South, checked out Ohio State with his teammate, Abu Demaray. Demaray is an athlete/wide receiver and Dowdy, who's recently received offers from Michigan State and the University of Miami, is hoping to earn a Buckeye offer without being required to come back to the school for a camp session this summer.
Ohio State has not offered a single offensive lineman from inside of the state unless they've camped in Columbus, so don't expect anything different for Dowdy. We'll have an update on his visit as soon as possible.
WIMBUSH STILL HOPES TO VISIT
With a lot of focus on Torrance Gibson, it seems that a number of Buckeye fans have written off the possibility of Brandon Wimbush choosing Ohio State. Wimbush, for his part, says that he's still very high on the Buckeyes.
"VERY FALSE," Wimbush told 11W, in all capital letters, when asked if the perception that he wasn't as into the Buckeyes as once thought was true. "I just haven't been out there in a while and things have been kind of quiet lately. They are a great staff and great people and there's nothing I want to do more than get back there and spend more time with their staff."
As for when that can happen, Wimbush is still uncertain. Because of the hellish winter and the need to make up class time, spring break dates are uncertain which prevent Wimbush from setting up a specific date for a visit. He will not be visiting for the Ohio State Spring Game as he had intended because he'll attend a Rivals.com camp which is the same day.
Ohio State is still very interested in Wimbush, and Wimbush is still very interested in Ohio State, and both parties are hoping another visit happens soon.
BIRMINOLOGY (RANDOM TIDBITS)
One of Ohio State's most important offensive line targets, New Jersey's Steven Gonzalez, will visit Penn State again on March 29th. He's still got Ohio State at the top of his list, but the Nittany Lions are a close second and could be closing the gap. Gonzalez said he hopes to get back to Ohio State soon, but as of now, nothing is planned.
Buckeye offer Dre'Mont Jones is a player that Ohio State made an early move on, but new schools are coming in almost daily to check out the St. Ignatius star. Kentucky and Michigan State each offered the defensive end last week, who will turn his focus to recruiting a bit more now that his basketball season is over. Jones will — in my opinion — be a Buckeye and it could happen at anytime.
One of the state's best player, C.J. Conrad, let me know Monday night that he'll be heading to Penn State this coming weekend and that he'd be visiting Ohio State the weekend of March 29th. With Chris Clark off the board, the Buckeyes tight end situation is shaping up a bit, and visits from Conrad and Missouri's Hale Hentges in the coming weeks could clarify things even more. Conrad is a player that Ohio State may ask to see in camp this summer before extending an offer, and it's an idea that he's currently receptive too.
Nordonia (Ohio) defensive back Denzel Ward is another 2015 prospect the Buckeyes would like to see on campus this summer for a camp session, and that's good news for the speedy defensive back. Ward has recently started to hear from Ohio State for the first time, as assistant coach Ed Warinner has reached out to him in the last few weeks. Don't be surprised if he's a player who blows up in the coming months and ends up donning the Scarlet and Gray.
Ravenwood High School (Brentwood, Tenn.) Van Jefferson and his family will make their way back to Ohio State this weekend, and it's a huge trip for the Buckeyes and the Jeffersons. As we've talked about before, Ohio State has some work to do with Shawn Jefferson, the wide receiver's father and a coach for the Tennessee Titans. Urban Meyer, who took over the recruitment personally a few weeks back, needs to convince the elder Jefferson that Ohio State's offense will highlight the passing game a bit more in the coming years. If that happens, Jefferson is without question on commitment watch.
Ohio State is still hoping to get Richmond (Va.) linebacker Ricky DeBerry on campus soon. He and his family had decided to reschedule their visit, when a mid-February didn't work out. DeBerry's high school teammate, cornerback Garrett Taylor, has a Buckeye offer and visited Michigan this past weekend. Taylor has told me that Ohio State has fallen back on his list a bit, and I'd not be surprised if he pulls the trigger for Michigan soon. Will that affect DeBerry and Michigan? I am sure he'd take a look.