FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS VISITOR LIST TAKING SHAPE
Friday Night Lights is still a few weeks away and the lists of potential visitors are always extremely tentative, but the 2016 edition is already shaping up to be quite the recruiting extravaganza. At this point, virtually all of Ohio State's top remaining targets are expected to be in attendance as Tate Martell and other commits will be helping the staff in rolling out the red carpet in Columbus.
While we've been keeping a running list on the recruiting board, just the recent additions are enough to get excited about. Earlier this week, Cleveland wideout Jaylen Harris confirmed with 247Sports that he is planning to attend. Harris' recruitment has been a bit of a strange one of late as many expected him to already be a part of the Buckeyes' 2017 class. With Trevon Grimes, Tyjon Lindsey, and Donovan People-Jones still out there, this could prove to be an important visit for the four-star.
Speaking of wide receiver targets, a relatively newer name is also now expected to be in Columbus that weekend. Oak Ridge, Tennessee's Tee Higgins, another five-star pass-catcher, has been discussed a few times but an appearance at Friday Night Lights may make him one to keep a close eye on moving forward. As is the case with any out-of-state prospect like this, actually getting them on campus is always tough. The crystal ball for the 6-foot-5, 190-pounder is currently split between Tennessee and Clemson.
Looking ahead to 2018, one of the nation's top defensive backs is also expected to make the trip. Jaiden Woodbey received a Buckeye offer just two shorts week ago, and the 78th-ranked player for the 2018 class didn't hesitate to name Ohio State his top school. There's a long way to go until February of 2018 and Woodbey is a USC legacy, but he's also a teammate of recent Buckeye commit Wyatt Davis at California powerhouse St. John Bosco.
BUCKEYES TRENDING FOR FIVE-STAR TAILBACK
It's become fairly obvious that Cam Akers is the guy the Buckeyes want to complement J.K. Dobbins in the future backfield, and the last five crystal ball picks all have the nation's second-ranked running back heading to Columbus. It's been discussed before, but seeing some national analysts – especially those with Southern ties – calling a Mississippi kid to end up with the Buckeyes is always an encouraging sign.
Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Georgia all continue to be threats, but this one may very well come down to the Buckeyes and the in-state Rebels. It may be wise to watch out for a few other tailbacks that could have an impact on the Akers sweepstakes. Georgia and Penn State are currently battling it out for five-star D'Andre Swift while Tennessee and Ole Miss are the top contenders for Ty Chandler, the nation's sixth-rated back.
Akers and his parents are expected to make the trip up for Friday Night Lights and you can bet that Tony Alford won't let them too far from his sights.
LINDSEY VISITS HUSKS
Since last weekend's trip to Lincoln, things have been mostly quiet on the Tyjon Lindsey front. His recruitment still appears to be coming down to the Buckeyes and Huskers, but there doesn't appear to be any reason for Ohio State fans to fret. Those who keep a close eye on Twitter feeds will probably drive themselves nuts over the next two months leading up to his announcement as the five-star goes back and forth between pro-Buckeye and pro-Nebraska barrages.
Coming off the Nebraska visit, there's definitely been a lot of Buckeye chatter by the nation's top slot receiver. The interaction with Martell isn't a surprise as the two have a long history of playing and even living together in Las Vegas, but he's also been encouraging fans to follow another five-star wideout who is scheduled to make his own commitment just two short days after Lindsey's.
FOLLOWERS Do me a huge favor & FOLLOW ( @TrevonGrimes7 ) RIGHT NOW, & get him to 9k by TONIGHT if y'all are die hard followers & fans— Tyjon A. Lindsey (@tyjonlindsey) June 29, 2016
The final week of August is shaping up to be one for the ages when it comes to wide receiver recruiting.
THE OPENING ROSTERS – RANKED
Ohio State is set to send a record number of commitments to Nike's The Opening, and today 247Sports used their composite rankings to evaluate the star power on each squad.
The majority of the current Buckeye commits – including Brendon White, Isaiah Pryor, Brendon White, and Shaun Wade – can be found on Team LunarBeast. Tate Martell will be leading the way for Team AlphaPro as he puts on a recruiting hat and looks to work his magic on Trevon Grimes, Tyjon Lindsey, and Jeffrey Okudah.
Not a bad turnout, eh?
DARNELL EWELL SETS ANNOUNCEMENT DATE
Last weekend, four-star defensive tackle Darnell Ewell took a bit of a Midwest tour, hitting up Columbus, Ann Arbor, and South Bend. While the general consensus has been that the Buckeyes would like to add a third tackle to their 2017 class, it's looking less and less likely that Ewell will be the guy.
Word around Columbus is that the staff may actually prefer the 6-foot-4, 295-pounder as more of a guard. With three of the nation's top linemen already in the fold, it doesn't appear that Ewell will be an option moving forward.
He's set to announce at Norfolk's Lake Taylor High School on July 15 at noon. The Fighting Irish appear to be trending right now.
Ewell has had a relatively quiet recruitment but has always seemed to carry himself very professionally. He's spoken highly of Ohio State and the staff and has heard glowing reviews from former teammates Jalyn Holmes and Wayne Davis.
HONIGFORD COMMITS TO MICHIGAN
Something can be said for Ohio kids who work their tails off to earn a Buckeye offer, and Sugarcreek's Joel Honigford (Garaway) certainly put forth the effort in trying to do so. The three-star tackle made several appearances in Columbus, most recently for the June 17 one-day camp, in an attempt to earn the coveted offer. Alas, Ohio State did not make a move and the commitment of five-star Wyatt Davis should all but put an end to offensive line recruiting for this cycle.
Honigford announced his commitment to the Maize and Blue on Wednesday, electing to roll with Jim Harbaugh and Co. over offers from Michigan State, Auburn, and Oregon. The Spartans had been the presumed favorite for a while, but a mid-June trip to Ann Arbor appears to be the turning point.
ASH HAS RUTGERS ROLLING
As Michigan State and Penn State both struggle on the recruiting front, Chris Ash has the Scarlet Knights headed in the right direction. They currently check in with the No. 15 class in America, just one spot behind Clemson. Rutgers also has the third-best class in the Big Ten, behind only Ohio State and Michigan.
Ash has landed six commitments in the last week, including four-star linebacker Tyshon Fogg, who also held offers from Clemson, Michigan State, and Ole Miss. Interestingly, only two of the recent commitments actually hail from the state of New Jersey. The next big step for the first-year head coach will be working to keep the in-state talent from fleeing the Garden State.
1 on 1 vs. No moves Q. lol pic.twitter.com/RNEfWw87Ml— Chris Ash (@CoachChrisAsh) June 29, 2016
Like Tom Herman a year ago, it will be interesting to watch as he tries to make his mark early and often at his new home.