Welcome to The Hurry-Up, which runs Sunday through Thursday, serving as your last stop for recruiting news and notes nightly. We'll recap the day as it happened and preview the days ahead while keeping our ear to the ground on the Ohio State recruiting scene.
JAMES HUDSON - DON'T FORGET THIS NAME
Earlier today we showcased the program of Toledo Central Catholic High School and touched briefly on a pair of soon-to-be stars in the 2017 class. James Hudson, a 6-foot-5, 250 pound defensive end was — outside of Joe Burrow — the one player most people agreed stood out the most, especially from a physical standpoint. While he's still learning his position, Hudson's future is very bright. After all, he's only 15 years-old.
"I think I realized football was a real possibility in my future in 8th grade," Hudson shared with Eleven Warriors. "I played linebacker and was the leader of my team. Right now, I think what I do best is the way I use my hands, my length and my strength to get off blocks. I need to learn some new techniques and get more consistent."
After watching Hudson last Thursday, I can verify that he was almost impossible for Athens' offensive lineman to block one-on-one. He was a disruptive force in the backfield all night, harassing Burrow regularly. The coming-out party is welcomed by Hudson, who has not yet really heard much from coaches because of non-contact regulations with sophomores. He says he'll work hard to get noticed a bit more this upcoming off-season.
"That's on the agenda for next spring," Hudson said of college camps and combines. "But as of now, no colleges have offered or anything."
That will not be the case for long. Growing up in Toledo, Hudson is unsurprisingly an Ohio State fan.
"I grew up liking the Buckeyes," he said. "I would absolutely love to play there. I would be the first person in my family to play sports at the collegiate level."
Although he prefers playing defense, Hudson actually thinks he could excel on offense in college and beyond, but not at the offensive tackle position he occasionally plays.
"I think if I continue to grow, I could be an elite tight end," Hudson added. "Tight ends are becoming big in offenses, like Jimmy Graham. I just have to convince Coach (Greg) Dempsey to let me play that spot. I have great hands, I just need to work on my footwork and my speed."
One area the sophomore doesn't have to work on is his attitude. He's a kid who gets "it." There's more to college than just football.
"I'm looking forward to the academics in college," he said. "I'm really interested in criminal justice. My mother is a very smart woman, she stresses that part of school."
On the field, Hudson believes a big part of his role for the Fighting Irish is to be a leader. He says that's something that has come naturally to him.
"We have a young team, no doubt about it," in reference to his sophomore and junior-laden state champions. "I knew it after the Perrysburg game. We just told each other that was going to be our last loss of the season."
That loss, in week three of the 2014 season, pushed Central to 1-2 on the season heading into a huge matchup at Toledo Whitmer. Central rolled through the Panthers of Whitmer and never looked back. Simple, right?
"When I'm out there on the field, being young doesn't matter to me," Hudson concluded. "When the offensive line or defensive line needs a spark, I simply tell them flat out that we need to step it up, and that's what we do. It's not hard at all."
Although he's still working on completing his sophomore year highlights, this brief clip from last Thursday's title game gives a little insight into what this talented prospect will bring to the table.
BUCKEYES DEFENSIVE LINE QUANDARY
This week — and this weekend — is a big one for the Buckeyes and their defensive line recruiting efforts. Today, they visited Terry Beckner, Jr., arguably their top defensive tackle prospect on the board. Tomorrow, defensive end Josh Sweat announces his college decision. Friday begins a huge weekend visit from Connecticut's Christian Wilkins. The Buckeyes would love to love to take one to two more defensive lineman and these three names, along with Neville Gallimore, remain as their preferred choices. Pickerington's Da'Von Hamilton, who visited Ohio State in late November, committed to Kentucky last week, and while a Buckeye offer could still change things for Hamilton, it appears that ship has — at least temporarily — sailed.
The problem is that as the Buckeyes chase these four lineman, among the country's best prospects at their positions, they don't seem to be in the leading position for any of them. Another unifying characteristic of these four players is that they all prefer to not talk to the media about their recruitment, leading to speculation and guessing games rather than hard intel about their thought processes and feelings on each school.
Beckner, I'm told, will still visit Ohio State officially. He was visited by Chris Ash today and it seems the Buckeyes remain in the mix. Gallimore, who checked out The Game in Columbus left the city with many positive vibes but the longer his recruitment plays out, the worse it likely gets for the Buckeyes. Wilkins, it appears will still come down to Ohio State and Penn State. Sweat, who received an at-home visit from Urban Meyer, Larry Johnson and Zach Smith last Thursday, is a long-shot at best. What gives? Why, with all the success of the current Ohio State defensive front four, the legend Larry Johnson coaching, and the glaring need for a depth-chart infusion, is there such a struggle to land one of these big fish?
Right now, no really knows. Not a very good answer I know, but truthful. The Buckeyes are working at every turn to sell their success combined with the opportunities they offer for real early playing time potential and as of now, no one is biting. Does that mean they're in a panic? I don't think so, at least not yet. They do however recognize the need for at least one more defensive lineman and it's a major priority for the rest of the 2015 class.
DAILY VISIT RECAPS
Another day and a lot more travel for the Ohio State coaching staff.
Urban Meyer got out the passport and headed to Canada, checking in on Neville Gallimore. The visit, according to Gallimore's head coach Geoff McArthur, went well and was Meyer re-emphasizing the importance of Gallimore to the Buckeyes. Meyer also visited Gallimore's parents, taking full advantage of the trip to Canada. From there, Meyer's most important remaining visit of the day is to Kentucky, where he arrived about 6:00 p.m. to meet with Damien Harris and his mother.
After Meyer's visits, Chris Ash's trip to East St. Louis might be today's most "important" visit, where he stopped and checked on Terry Beckner, Jr. The visit, which we reported last night, was an important one for the Buckeyes as they hoped to convince Beckner to finalize a date for an official visit to Columbus. That was the goal of the trip and that was accomplished: he'll visit Ohio State on the weekend of January 23rd, which is the good news. The bad news is that Beckner also arranged an official visit to Missouri the following weekend, the last before signing day. If the Buckeyes hope to steal the nation's 16th-ranked player, it will be done late in the process and they won't know until signing day.