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.
LINEBACKER DECISION COULD BE TUF
Last Friday night the Buckeyes landed a commitment from Tuf Borland, a 2016 linebacker from Bolingbrook, Illinois. Borland has been a player high on the the Buckeyes' list for a few months, but prior to last Monday's visit to Columbus, the notion that they could land him over Wisconsin – where his father played – was a bit of a stretch. When he called on Friday to let them know that Ohio State was where his heart was, the Buckeyes were eager to accept the commitment, but that means tough questions at linebacker will now be asked, especially as it pertains to Brendan Ferns and Aaron Hansford, the two primary linebacker targets in the mix moving forward.
Hansford visited Ohio State at the end of March, and before going home, earned a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes. The discussion at the time of the visit, and immediately thereafter, was that a decision for Hansford could happen soon after he and his family returned home. No decision has been made yet, and Penn State is lurking, working hard to keep the Washington, D.C. player (as well as his teammate, Buckeye commitment Terrell Hall) in the DMV. This past weekend, Hansford was named The Opening regional MVP at the linebacker position and his recruiting "star" is on the verge of really taking off. Recently, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Hansford – described to me as a "Darron Lee-type linebacker" – has begun hinting that his recruiting process could play into the fall and require some official visits before a choice could be made. That may not work out for him if he intends on choosing Ohio State. Why?
Because, as we've said for months, Ferns could decide to become a Buckeye at literally any time. The country's second-ranked inside linebacker has Ohio State, West Virginia and Penn State near the top of his list, and he's continued to talk with the Buckeyes nearly every single day and that hasn't changed since Borland's commitment. I know there's some out there who believe he ends up choosing another school, but if he does it will not be because there's no room for him now that Borland is in, but because there's a school that has a better fit for him academically. Either way, I think an answer from Ferns is coming soon, maybe even as soon as tomorrow.
Bottom line: if Ferns wants in, Hansford is out. If Hansford wants in, Ferns himself could be on the outside looking in. The Buckeyes want two linebackers in this class, but a player of Ferns' caliber may be make them reconsider taking three if they could get the right three.
STAFF BACK ON THE ROAD TOMORROW
About a week after most college coaching staffs have started spring evaluations, the Buckeyes' coaching staffs will hit the road recruiting tomorrow. Among the expected stops is Virginia, where a number of big-time prospects live and play, including a gaggle of stars at Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach) like Florida State commitment Levonta Taylor and 2017 stars Tahj Capehart and Eric Crosby, as well as 2018 standout running back Khalan Laborn.
Another player to watch in Virginia this week is 2017 athlete Devon Hunter, a five-star prospect from Chesapeake. Hunter, who has nearly 30 offers but does not yet have one from Ohio State, said he hopes they stop by and extend him a scholarship opportunity.
"Ohio State sends me a lot of mail, but I've not really talked to them much," the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder who prefers to play wide receiver told Eleven Warriors. "I hope they offer, that would make my day."
Hunter says right now he's got no favorites among his suitors, but he's enjoyed the chance to see a number of different colleges so far.
"I like them all, I've got no favorites," he said. "I like Alabama, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Michigan. I've visited Virginia Tech, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina State, Alabama and Georgia."
Ohio State's had decent success in Virginia recently, and an offer to Hunter could make them a player for the country's 18th-ranked 2017 prospect.
2017 DT JERRON CAGE VISITS OHIO STATE
As we've noted a number of times, Ohio State's 2017 recruiting class is off to a pretty darn good start; it's ranked as the nation's best right now.
One of the state's top 2017 prospects that doesn't yet have a Buckeye offer is Winton Woods (Cincinnati) defensive tackle Jerron Cage. If the last name sounds familiar, it should: he's the younger brother of current Notre Dame player Daniel Cage, who was briefly recruited by the Buckeyes in the 2014 class but never offered.
Jerron is a 6-foot-3, 260-pounder, listed as the country's 8th-ranked defensive tackle in the 2017 class and the 101st-ranked overall player. Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and Illinois have offered so far, and he took his first visit to Ohio State this past weekend. He got to spend time with the two Buckeye coaches recruiting him – Cincinnati legend Kerry Coombs and defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Sr. – and take in his first glimpses of Ohio State's school and campus.
As I said, the Buckeyes have not offered – neither have other potential front-runners like Michigan State or Notre Dame – but this is a player to keep an eye on down the road.
BUCKEYES IN TOP 10 FOR SNELSON
Former Miami Hurricane commitment, 2016 wide receiver Dredrick Snelson, released his Top 10 schools last night on Twitter, and the Buckeyes made the list.
Top schools no order: FSU Virginia Tech Clemson Miami UF Ohio state Louisville Auburn West Virginia Notre dame— Dredrick Snelson Jr. (@D_Snelson2) April 21, 2015
A teammate of 2015 Buckeyes signee Torrance Gibson and 2017 offer Kyshaun Bryan, Snelson is the country's 121st-ranked player and 25th-ranked wide receiver, and on talent alone is a guy who might be underrated. He has ideal size and speed and a knack for the big play but questions about his maturity off the field have dogged him a bit since his decision in December to re-open his recruitment.