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.
Birm's Note: This weekend my sister is getting married, and I will spending a few days with family and friends. We will have the Denzel Ward community interview on Sunday morning, but there will be no Sunday night Hurry Up. Come Monday, we'll be turning the focus 100-percent to 2016 and beyond.
THE ELITE '15: SUPERLATIVES
Sooo...the "Elite '15" is wrapped up tight with a beautiful Scarlet and Gray bow on it and you're sitting there wondering — presumably/hopefully with two fingers of Makers 46 on the rocks close by — who is going to go down in Buckeye history from this new collection of ridiculous football talent? Because I know many of you are asking those very questions, I've reached out to a few folks for insight, a glimpse into the future as it were.
Most Likely to Score a Touchdown as a Freshman
- "Mike Weber. If he comes in and works like we expect him to, he'll see the field and with the way the schedule sets up, Ohio State should have some comfortable fourth quarters and he could get carries."
Most Likely to Become a Starter as a Freshman
- "Let's be honest, we've got a pretty darn good football team at Ohio State and we're pretty young, it's going to be hard for any of these guys to play enough to be considered as a starter. If there was a guy who could, it might one of the defensive lineman, like Jashon Cornell or Dre'Mont Jones. They'll get a shot to be in the two deep early."
Most Likely to Become a Guy People Say "Well That Guy Was a Three-Star..."
- "Josh Norwood. This a guy who it's just going to be a good football player. He can run, he hits like a truck and he's got just the right amount of chip on a shoulder. It's amazing that schools down there missed on this kid.
Most Likely to Switch Positions
- "There are a few guys who could line up at different positions, but we're going to see EGW come in as a cornerback and he's so good with the ball in his hands that not playing offense could be a mistake."
Most Likely to Become a Captain
- "Easy - Justin Hilliard. He just gets it."
Most Like to Smoke a Victory Cigar in the Lockeroom
- "I think Matt Burrell is going to be a guy that the media loves. He's so easy to talk to and wears his heart on his sleeve always."
MY REASONS FOR CONTINUED CONFIDENCE ON GIBSON, WEBER
Over the last few days, there were a number of people on this website and others who were, to put it mildly, worried that Ohio State would lose out on a couple big prospects as signing day approached. The major reasons for concern? Torrance Gibson and Mike Weber. They were talking, many of them - Gibson was worried about Ohio State's quarterback depth, Weber wanted to stay home and play for the Wolverines – the sky was falling on the Buckeyes, three weeks after winning a national title.
On 11W however, we remained relatively steadfast (admittedly, there was concern about Weber in the 10 hours leading up to signing day) in our belief that Gibson and Weber were absolutely not going anywhere; they would be Buckeyes; period. Why was I so confident? First, as I've repeated a few times here and elsewhere, the Buckeyes had — without question — the strongest relationships out of any schools Weber and Gibson were considering. The strength of those connections did not fade at all leading up to signing day, period. The reason Ohio State knew they were losing Carlton Davis two weeks ago was because he stopped talking to the Buckeyes's coaching staff for a number of days leading up to and after his Auburn visit. The day they started to talk again was the day Davis told them that there was no point in Urban Meyer and Chris Ash making their final in-home visit.
Weber and Gibson never told Ohio State privately anything other than "We're good." The Buckeyes, in the wee hours of Tuesday night, were finally given a little reason to worry re: Weber, but him alerting their staff that he was having difficulty with his decision is in itself a sign that he wanted them to re-convince him in my opinion. Gibson never said anything to the Buckeyes privately to make them think there was concern. Every day, every conversation was "I'm a Buckeye, I'm just going to see the places." They trusted him, he trusted them, and when in doubt about a recruit's intentions: trust and relationships. Always.
NEXT STEPS FOR 2016
Ok, I said we'd talk 2016 next week, but I'd feel remiss if we didn't at least discuss it a bit right now. You know the Buckeyes currently have six commitments, five from Ohio and the nation's 5th-ranked player overall, Kareem Walker, from New Jersey already in the fold. What happens coming up? Who are the next pieces of the puzzle and how do the Buckeyes hope to proceed?
Jarrett Guarantano. That's the next major piece that has been expected to fall. Guarantano, who is close friends with Walker, has been thinking about an announcement on a date that is relatively near, although it's had not been planned at this point. That appears to be changing a bit, at least according to this tweet from Guarantano tonight.
Taking a few steps back with this recruiting thing .— Jarrett Guarantano (@Guarantano18) February 5, 2015
Currently, the Buckeyes feel confident that they're in a good place with the country's 6th-ranked quarterback, but there is still concern that the lure of playing at Rutgers, where his father played and is the hometown favorite, is appealing. Boston College is another great and local option and there appears to be some concern from the Guarantano camp that the Buckeyes' quarterback situation is too crowded and it might cause him to look elsewhere.
Once/if they secure Guarantano, the next mostly likely player to make a decision soonish is Cleveland St. Ignatius lineman Liam Eichenberg. Eichenberg recently removed Michigan from his list of schools and narrowed it to Ohio State and Notre Dame and a decision could be coming soon.
After February or early March, don't be surprised if there's a bit of a slowdown as the evaluation periods kick and the Buckeyes take a close look at a number of the state's best players who've not committed yet. The 2016 class could end up being a strong contender for the country's best overall, and a number of key pieces — players like Austin Mack and Nick Bosa - should end their recruitment as summer rolls around.
THE BUSINESS ISN'T ALWAYS PRETTY
One of the harder lessons that I've hard to learn in my life, is that business is not always pretty. Sometimes, when you're working hard and doing the right things, you still get screwed over. Sometimes, the people who don't deserve something get it anyway. Life isn't fair. College football, right now, is one of the biggest businesses out there and with that comes the occasional situation that can make you cringe when you see it. That happened just about two hours ago when Stan Drayton was officially hired by the Chicago Bears as their new running backs coach. Drayton, along with Kerry Coombs, was among the parties most responsible for Ohio State landing Mike Weber yesterday, and today, upon hearing the news, Weber was understandably upset.
I'm hurt as hell I ain't gone lie— Mike Weber (@mikeweber25) February 5, 2015
It's easy to side with Weber, because the facts are that with a hiring this soon after signing day, Drayton clearly knew that leaving was a possibility, and he should have let Weber and his family know. Beyond that, it's a violent reminder that this is a business and if you're a successful coach, you're going to have opportunities elsewhere.
How Drayton's departure will affect the recruitment of Kareem Walker remains to be seen. I did speak briefly with Walker's coach tonight and the news was definitely a shock, so it's going to be on the Buckeyes to quickly make a hire that fits what the nation's top running back is looking for. While Drayton gets a lot of the credit for Walker's commitment, Ed Warinner has been his primary recruiter for some time now and will continue to be, so Warinner and Urban Meyer may have some clean up work to do there, too.