The Hurry Up: 2016 Linebackers Descend on Columbus, Buckeyes Checking Out a Prince and More

By Jeremy Birmingham on January 21, 2015 at 7:45 pm
Maryland offensive lineman Isaiah Prince

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.


After signing four linebackers in 2014 (Raekwon McMillan, Dante Booker, Kyle Berger and Sam Hubbard) and three on tap for 2015 (Justin Hilliard, Jerome Baker and the already enrolled Nick Conner) the Buckeyes are in a position to be picky for 2016.

As we've gone over a few times, the most likely candidate to end up in Columbus at this point is St. Clairsville's Brendan Ferns. The state's top linebacker next season, Ferns has been a regular topic of discussion here and basically everywhere after an incredible junior season for the Red Devils. The 74th-ranked player in America for 2016, Ferns will not make it to Columbus this Saturday for Ohio State's national championship celebration, but he will be on campus on Sunday to round out the big junior day weekend (full visitor preview coming tomorrow night) and take in the Buckeyes' basketball game against Indiana. Ferns has his own basketball games on Friday and Saturday of this week which will prevent him from spending the entire weekend at Ohio State. 

Yesterday, the Buckeyes' Luke Fickell was active on the recruiting trail, stopping first in Illinois to see Bolingbrook four-star Tuf Borland, a 6-foot-1, 217-pound outside linebacker. The son of former Wisconsin Badger linebacker Kyle Borland — but sharing no relation to former Wisconsin Badger Chris — was offered by Ohio State on November 22nd when he made his first visit to Columbus. This coming weekend, he'll make his second trip.

"I'm heading down to Ohio State for a visit this weekend," Borland told Eleven Warriors. "(Yesterday) was the first contact with them since the dead period ended." 

After seeing Borland, Fickell headed north to Minnesota and Eden Prairie where linebacker Carter Coughlin calls home. The 6-foot-3, 200 pound linebacker has the Buckeyes in his top three schools.

Fickell was on hand to watch Coughlin's basketball game and with a decision expected by Coughlin sometime in February, the timing is important. Oregon has made impressive in-roads into Minnesota in the last few recruiting cycles and has already secured a commitment from the state's top player in 2016, quarterback Seth Green. Currently Minnesota and Ohio State are the only two schools with a crystal ball selection for Coughlin, and the Gophers are the runaway favorite at the moment.


One 2015 player that Ohio State has been aggressively chasing for months — yet he remains under the radar so-to-speak — is Greenbelt, Maryland offensive lineman Isaiah Prince. Maryland's top prospect for 2015, Prince is the eighth-ranked offensive tackle in the country and sources at Ohio State say that there's been a slight bump in landing the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder.

"We're not going to get our hopes up yet," a source at the WHAC said. "But, we had a good visit with him yesterday and he's going to be back on campus this weekend. We think we have a program that makes sense for what he's looking for."

What Prince is looking for, according to those close to him, is a family atmosphere in a top-flight football program, and the Buckeyes are comfortable that they offer both of those things. He visited Columbus over the summer and although he's coming off an official visit to Alabama, the home-state Terrapins remain the odds-on favorite to land Prince.


Twice in the last month-plus we've addressed the issue of Ohio prospects (Buckeye commit Tyler Gerald and Lebanon standout linebacker Jango Glackin) packing up their bags and heading to Bradenton, Florida to attend the IMG Academy, a fast-rising football hotbed. While Ohio State was definitely on board with Gerald's transfer — the IMG Academy could improve his everyday competition and training — there are some in the Florida football scene who are not feeling quite as thrilled with what IMG is able to do, recruiting-wise.

So which recruits are transferring to IMG, a school that costs upwards of $68,000 a year to attend? Here's a pretty impressive list of names.

  • Rahshaun "Shaq" Smith, a four-star defensive end/linebacker from Towson, Maryland. No. 44-ranked player nationally.
  • Shavar Manuel, a five-star defensive end from Tampa. The country's No. 3 ranked overall player.
  • Isaac Nauta, the nation's top tight end in 2016, and a Florida State commitment. No. 46-ranked player overall.
  • Saivion Smith, a five-star cornerback transferred prior to last season. No. 7 overall in 2016.
  • Malik Barrow, another four-star defensive end from Tampa. 
  • Calvin Ashley, a 2017 four-star offensive tackle from Orlando.
  • Emmanuel Greene, a four-star wide receiver in the class of 2017 from Coconut Creek.
  • Khalil Ladler, a cornerback from Georgia and the 79th-ranked player in 2016.
  • Cam Spence, offensive lineman from Maryland, No. 49-ranked prospect in 2017.

Coached by former Florida State Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, IMG is also expecting to hear from Seminoles' 2016 commitment Malik Henry, the country's eighth-ranked player in 2016. Henry and Nauta are current FSU commitments and the Tallahassee tribe is expected to be very involved with Smith (Shaq and Saivion) and Manuel, among others. 


Last night we mentioned that Ohio State 2016 commitment Kareem Walker was hoping to make it to Columbus this weekend. Judging by his latest tweet, it appears that visit is going to happen.

A local TV news station checked in on Walker and De Paul Catholic High School last night, which gives a bit more insight into his personality and his commitment. 

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