Happy Friday afternoon 11Wers. Hopefully you're enjoying the excitement of March Madness, and hopefully you've recovered from yesterday's horrible hoops loss to Dayton. With that behind us, it's time for some more positive news - the next two recruiting weekends will be huge, and this weekend has already been quite successful for Buckeye recruiting.
Ohio State has already had one of the top players in Ohio on campus, along with a top 2016 receiver and the No. 2 inside linebacker in the nation. All three enjoyed their time in Columbus and the Buckeyes hope to continue that trend throughout the weekend. Plus, the Chris Clark Saga may not be entirely over.
Visit going well for Benedictine Duo
The big recruiting weekend got off to a hot start, as Jerome Baker and Justin Layne of Cleveland's Benedictine High School made their way to Columbus yesterday. Baker has long been considered a heavy Ohio State lean, but Layne's recruitment is really just getting started and the Buckeyes impressed the 2016 athlete.
Osu was fun with @Lastname_Baker ...Overall, great day!
— SubZero (@JustinLayne0) March 21, 2014
Layne, Baker and Layne's father made the trip, during which they got to watch practice, interact with the coaches and check out the facilities. They spent the night in Columbus and are heading home today.
No scholarship offer yet for Layne, who plays quarterback, receiver and returns kicks for his high school team. He'll most likely play receiver in college, and at 6-foot-3 and good speed, he could be a real weapon at Ohio State. He currently holds an offer from Michigan State, while the Buckeyes continue to evaluate him - check out his sophomore highlights here.
As for Baker, it was important for the Buckeyes to re-establish themselves as a clear leader following Baker's junior day trip to Penn State. That's exactly what they did, Baker loves Ohio State and should be one of the next great linebackers to don the scarlet and gray. He says he won't announce a commitment until after his senior season, but right now it seems like just a matter of time before he's a Buckeye.
Barajas enjoys visit, picks up scholarship offer
Another top linebacker prospect was on campus yesterday, and came away impressed. Josh Barajas is ranked as the No. 4 inside linebacker prospect nationally in the 247Composite, and is the top player in the state of Indiana. Notre Dame was a heavy favorite coming into the weekend, but according to Steve Wiltfong, the Buckeyes have tightened things up. Notre Dame is still the most likely landing spot, but Ohio State is at least a close second right now. Next up for Barajas is a trip to Penn State, then he'll return to his home in Merrillville, Indiana.
Linebacker has clearly been a recruiting priority in this class, and the list of players that Ohio State is at or near the top for is staggering. Baker, Barajas, Justin Hilliard, Sh'Mar Kilby-Lane, Ricky DeBerry and Nick Conner just to name a few. Like last year's class, the 2015 LB crop could be a very special one and linebacker depth concerns should be a thing of the past very soon.
Chris Clark Latest
Chris Clark committed to North Carolina last weekend, but he's not quite done with visits. As reported by Mike Farrell and former 11Wer Alex Gleitman yesterday, Chris Clark will be visiting Ohio State and Notre Dame this spring.
As Birm discussed in the forums, Clark is firmly committed to North Carolina and feels it's the place for him, but there could be some pressure from the people around him to make a trip to Notre Dame, as he has family ties there. As for Ohio State, I think the reasoning for a visit to Columbus is a bit different. As many of you probably recall, Ohio State and Georgia were Clark's favorite schools for a while. Clark visited Georgia, but never made a trip to Columbus.
The sense that I'm getting from the situation is that, while Clark loves North Carolina, he wants to visit Ohio State to confirm North Carolina is the right place for him. It's very understandable, Ohio State was one of his favorite schools, so he might feel some obligation to make the trip to Columbus because of the strong relationships he has with the Buckeye coaches. I don't expect Clark to flip from North Carolina, but Ohio State at least has a shot - and as we've seen with Meyer, anything is possible at that point.
Looking Forward to the Weekend
The big recruiting weekend is already off to a strong start, but there are many more elite prospects coming to Columbus this weekend. Perhaps the most important potential visitor is Justin Hilliard. Hilliard said he might be coming up to Columbus to watch practice tomorrow, although he could be delaying his visit until next weekend. Hilliard has been to Ohio State multiple times, but the staff would love to have him on campus to watch spring practice.
Brian Cole is another big time athlete on campus this weekend. He's the top player in Michigan and has serious interest in the Buckeyes, which would be huge for Meyer and the Buckeyes.
Next weekend will be another huge one for Buckeye recruiting. Jake Fruhmorgen, Darius Fullwood and C.J. Conrad, among others, will be on campus next weekend. One story line to watch will be whether C.J. Conrad picks up a scholarship offer now that Chris Clark has committed elsewhere. Stay tuned for more on the huge upcoming recruiting weekends.