The Hurry Up: Distance Divides Buckeyes and Elite California Safety, Pair of 2017 Targets Check Out Oklahoma and Top Linebacker's Faith May Play Role in Decision

By Andrew Lind on July 31, 2016 at 7:15 pm
Dallas Gant
Dallas Gant

The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.


Five-star safety Jaiden Woodbey has long eyed a visit to Ohio State, but the distance between his hometown of Bellflower, California, and Columbus has made it difficult to say the least.

The St. John Bosco product hoped to catch a ride to Friday Night Lights with his high school teammate and Ohio State commit Wyatt Davis, but the pair stayed home when Davis decided to attend a family engagement instead. Woodbey then attempted to make other arrangements in the week or so after, but has now settled on visiting when his team travels to Cincinnati next month to play St. Xavier as part of the GEICO ESPN High School Football Kickoff.

In the meantime, Woodbey continues to check out other programs. The country's third-best safety and No. 31 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 visited Arizona on Thursday and then stopped by USC's campus on Friday, according to Fighton247 ($).

Fifty percent of Crystal Ball projections have Woodbey — who has a rather impressive list of scholarship offers of 17 premier schools — landing with the Trojans. Ohio State comes in second with 33 percent of predictions.


By tomorrow evening, two of Ohio State's priority targets for the Class of 2017 will have checked out Oklahoma this week, according to OU Insider ($). Five-star safety Jeffrey Okudah made the trip on Friday for the first-ever Sooner BBQ, while four-star linebacker Anthony Hines will be in Norman on Monday for an unofficial visit.

Both Hines and Okudah listed the Buckeyes and Sooners among their top schools earlier this month.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Hines is one of only two linebackers that Ohio State is recruiting to fill out its 2017 class, the other being five-star Kennedale, Texas, prospect Baron Browning. He holds offers from more than 90 schools, and recently trimmed his list to Auburn, Florida, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, TCU and UCLA.

Ohio State is the current 247Sports Crystal Ball favorite to land Okudah, but Oklahoma figures to be the top threat to land the Grand Prairie, Texas, native. This may have been the second visit to Norman for the top-ranked safety has taken this summer, but it just looks as if he's doing his due diligence after taking a pair of visits to Columbus this summer, as well.

Okudah has no timeline for a decision of his college future, and has indicated that an announcement could come as soon as he finds the best fit.


Ohio State typically has no issue with landing in-state prospects that it desires. Every once in a while, though, the Buckeyes find themselves in a battle with Notre Dame for top-ranked private school players.

As's Jeremy Birmingham wrote, that's the case with Toledo St. John's Jesuit four-star linebacker Dallas Gant.

“It's probably Ohio State and Notre Dame,” Gant said. “Those are the two schools I communicate with the most.”

The 6-foot-3, 201-pounder owns 11 scholarship offers, but said there's something unique about the Fighting Irish that the Buckeyes can't quite replicate.

“There's just more of a traditional feeling when you're on campus than at Ohio State,” Gant said. “It's kind of like St. John's with the religious aspect it has.

“I'm not really sure if a school can make that up,” he continued. “I'm sure it will play into my decision making, but it will not be a huge role. I'll bring [my faith] wherever I go. It's just a matter of it being a focus at the school.”

Gant earned an offer from Ohio State in June following a one-day instructional camp in Columbus, and then returned to campus for Friday Night Lights.

“The visit for Friday Night Lights went very well,” he said. “I had a good time with all the guys and the coaches. I got to spend more time with the players on the team, which was a very cool experience and different from the rest of my visits.”

Gant will get to see the Buckeyes again in person later this fall, when he makes an unofficial visit to Penn State for its annual “White Out” game in October.


Just one week after it secured a commitment from the top-rated junior college cornerback, Alabama locked down another in-state standout defensive back in Madison native Kyriq McDonald. The No. 53 overall cornerback in the Class of 2017, McDonald chose the Crimson Tide over offers from Florida State, Louisville and Mississippi State.

“I just felt at home,” McDonald told “I felt like the coaches wanted me there. They answered all my questions and it was a joy being there. The coaches made me feel like a player, not like a recruit.”

McDonald's pledge doesn't seem like noteworthy from afar, but Alabama accepting a commitment from another cornerback means the Crimson Tide may be out of the running for Jacksonville, Florida, Trinity Christian Academy's Shaun Wade. The No. 17 overall player and second-ranked cornerback in the 2017 class has been committed to Ohio State since January 2015, but cited Alabama and Notre Dame as fallback schools if things don't workout with the Buckeyes.


Sports Illustrated has interviewed a number of the top-tier recruits from the Class of 2017 this summer, including Ohio State target Darnay Holmes. On Friday, the publication caught up with another prospective Buckeye, Cam Akers.

The one-time Alabama commit has been busy this summer, taking unofficial visits to Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Akers also attended a Michigan satellite camp for the sole reason of meeting head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I came out here so I could personally meet coach Jim Harbaugh,” he said. “That's really why I came.”

Akers is considering taking a visit to Ann Arbor this fall, and has been trying to figure out a way to get to Columbus, too.

Though he missed out on Friday Night Lights, Ohio State is the favorite to land the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back from Clinton, Mississippi. He plans to announce his college decision in December and enroll early at whichever school he chooses, which could change the Buckeyes' current recruiting class in a significant way.

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