The Hurry Up is your nightcap of Ohio State recruiting news, catching you up on the day’s events with an ear on the ground for what’s next.
LAMONT WADE WILL VISIT OHIO STATE AGAIN SOON
One of Ohio State's longest-standing 2017 targets, Clairton, Pennsylvania's Lamont Wade, will be back in Columbus again soon, according to his father Carlton.
"We are coming, but don't know exactly when –– soon," Carlton Wade told Eleven Warriors. "Lamont talks with (Greg Schiano) often and I spoke with (Luke) Fickell last week. (We'll) take a couple more trips and then narrow it down."
It's expected that Ohio State, who leads the 247Sports.com crystal ball currently for Wade, will be on that list. The four-star cornerback, ranked as the country's fifth-best, has been to Columbus multiple times and the Buckeyes are recognized by most as the team to beat. With the top-ranked recruiting class in the country–including three top prospects that could play defensive back–the way to beat the Buckeyes may be to highlight that competition for playing time at Ohio State may be stiff. In the 2015 recruiting cycle, a number of teams convinced current Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush that Ohio State's recruitment of Torrance Gibson would keep him from possible playing time in Columbus and there are some taking a similar approach with Wade.
"Two schools came right out and said he will start right now (if he picks their school)," Carlton Wade said. "A lot of schools tell Lamont if he goes (to Ohio State) and gets hurt, he will never get on the field because (the Buckeyes) bring in several players just like him, if not better and he will get lost in the shuffle."
Trust. Comfort. Relationships. This is what Lamont Wade's–and 99 percent of all recruits–will make their decision based on.
RETURN OF MIDWEST FOOTBALL
It's getting hot in here, and by here I mean the Midwest and by hot I mean holy crap there's some good recruiting going on in the region.
Notre Dame, who hosted a number of their top prospects this past weekend during a Junior Day event, received four commitments in a 24-hour stretch, including three of the nation's most talented linebackers. We mentioned Monday the commitments of Pittsburgh Central Catholic stars David Adams and Kurt Hinish, but shortly after The Hurry Up was published the Irish added two other linebackers, both with Buckeye offers. The first, St. Thomas Aquinas' Drew White, has not visited Ohio State but the second, Indianapolis Cathedral's Pete Werner, was scheduled to make a trip to see the Buckeyes this coming weekend, though that now seems unlikely. The commitments of those four players come just days after Texas (Cedar Hill) quarterback Avery Davis gave his pledge to Brian Kelly, a run that has moved Notre Dame all the way up No. 5 in the 2017 national rankings.
After striking out in Ohio during the 2016 cycle and without any real prospects on the table for 2017 in the Buckeye state, Jim Harbaugh and his staff at Michigan have really ramped up their efforts inside Ohio for 2018, and Sunday night it paid off for the first time.
Antwuan Johnson, Ohio's fourth-ranked 2018 prospect, picked Michigan as his the school for him just days after a visit to Ann Arbor. He's close to Mike McCray, who played at Trotwood-Madison before embarking on his own Wolverines' career. Michigan made him a priority early, knowing that the Buckeyes weren't putting in quite as much time into that recruitment as they have been his Springfield teammate, defensive end Leonard Taylor. Michigan also hosted another key Ohioan last weekend, Westerville South's Jaelen Gill, who came away from his trip with plenty of good things to say about what Harbaugh and his staff are doing.
The Maize and Blue stayed hot by adding the commitment Tuesday morning of Orchard Lake St. Mary's 2017 linebacker Joshua Ross, a four-star from West Bloomfield, Michigan. He's the country's seventh-ranked inside linebacker in the 2017 cycle.
Michigan State has added their first two commitments of the 2017 class (after losing a commitment from Hunter Rison a few months ago) in the last six days, signaling that things are getting warmed up for the Dantonio Wagon again. IMG Academy tight end Jack Camper, a 6-foot-6, 230-pounder for the Ascenders chose the Spartans this morning and Walled Lake, Michigan, three-star wide receiver Cody White picked Michigan State late last week.
After years of mediocre football in the Midwest, the current recruiting trends could be a major part of a revitalization of the region's impact on the national football scene.
OKUDAH'S VERSATILITY MAKES HIM A HOT PROSPECT
There aren't many players in the country more talented or versatile than Grand Prairie, Texas, defensive back Jeffrey Okudah. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder–the top-ranked safety in the country–is working hard to model his game's versatility after a soon-to-be NFL top-five pick.
"I look at what Jalen Ramsey does," Okudah said, referring to the Florida State star who's expected to be a top-five pick in the upcoming NFL draft. "He set the tone for playing all three positions [cornerback, safety and nickelback] at a high level, and it's about to pay off for him when he'll be drafted in the top three or four picks."
For the Buckeyes, it's that versatility that makes him such an intriguing prospect. Okudah's athleticism, paired with is size, creates a unique blend for a secondary that values an ability to play all over. Vonn Bell was listed as a safety but played much more of a cornerback position most of the time, and Tyvis Powell entered the Buckeyes' program as a cornerback but will leave as an NFL-level safety. His trainer, Clay Mack, is one of the premier defensive back teachers in the country and he sees nothing that Okudah can't do.
"I tell people all the time: I don't train safeties or corners. I train DBs," Mack said. "And he bought in from day one.
"I'm really proud of seeing his corner skills. With his size, you naturally want to see him as safety, but I challenged him. I told him I wanted him to be known as a flex guy."
Ohio State remains the leader for this "Flex Guy" but there's a long way to signing day.
With the return of spring practice Tuesday at Ohio State, the Buckeyes welcomed a host of big visitors but none bigger than 2017 commitment Haskell Garrett.
On his first trip to Columbus, with his family in tow, Garrett's visit is an extended one, and that's important following a potentially game-changing visit to Notre Dame over the weekend. There is a lot of smoke coming from South Bend that suggests a growing confidence Garrett could end up flipping his commitment. If he holds on to his Ohio State pledge or not, expect Garrett to make official visits this fall. This week is about showing his family that Ohio State–which is vastly different from Notre Dame–is on par with the Golden Dome academically and socially.
A group of Ohioans, led by 2017 pledge Marcus Williamson who was in town for spring break and took advantage of the chance to get away from IMG for a few days, was also in attendance. Portsmouth 2018 offensive lineman Blaine Scott, Wayne (Huber Heights) athlete Alex Reigelsperger and the Pickerington Central foursome of Morgan Ellison (2017) and 2018 stars Trenton Gillison, Jeremiah Wood (the younger brother of former Buckeye Jamie) and Xavier Henderson made the trip to campus and got a good look at a day in the life of a Buckeye.
Scott looks great, dropping at least 20 pounds from the last time I saw him, and he's working very hard to be a team leader according to his coach at East. The Buckeyes have only offered one 2018 in-state lineman but as they continue to watch and monitor Scott, he's definitely someone to pay attention to. He'll camp at Ohio State a number of times this summer and that will give him a great opportunity to catch their eye.
Wednesday, the Buckeyes are set to host one of their bigger visitors of the week, quarterback Phil Jurkovec from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania.
The visit, first reported by Marc Givler of BuckeyeGrove.com, is set for two days and it will be a key trip for the country's top-ranked dual threat 2018 quarterback. Jurkovec is not likely to wait long to make a commitment and as one of only a handful of quarterbacks in his class to receive an Ohio State offer, this visit is big for Urban Meyer and Tim Beck as they look to get into the race with Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.