Heat Check: New Buckeye Targets Emerge After A Pair of the Nation's Top Receivers Make the Call in August

By Andrew Ellis on September 1, 2016 at 2:15 pm
Josh Falo was offered in August.
Josh Falo

Recruiting is all about momentum. Sometimes you're gaining it, sometimes you're losing it. What prospects are trending up with Ohio State? Let's take a look.

After months of waiting, Ohio State's top-ranked recruiting class finally has some pass-catchers as August was highlighted by the commitments of five-star receivers Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey

The commitment from Grimes came later than many had expected, though the recruitment was never really in doubt. The Huskers made a push for Lindsey, but after Tate Martell made the call in June, it seemed like it was just a matter of time. The two announced just over a week ago on 10-Star Monday, which will arguably go down as Zach Smith's best day on the recruiting front to date.

The Buckeyes are now up to 18 commitments in what is expected to be a relatively small class. The removal of two priority targets brings some new names to the forefront as Urban Meyer and Co. extended two big new offers in August.

*The board will be updated over the next several months as we try and monitor the ups and downs of the 2017 class.


*Last month's version can be found HERE.

Cam Akers hangs onto the top spot, but his recruitment is anything but easy to read right now. It seems like four or five different teams have been rumored to be in the driver's seat at one point or another, and the Seminoles appear to be the latest fad. 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong pegged Akers to Ohio State for a while but recently went "foggy" on his crystal ball, which is a bit ominous given his credentials.

The FSU insiders remain confident, but the same can be said for Ole Miss and even LSU. Basically, it seems like everyone – yours truly included – is guessing right now and it's probably best to just wait and see how the official visits go. There's no question that Tony Alford has done a fantastic job with the Akers family, but there's a long way to go.

The good news? J.K. Dobbins' stock has been on the rise all spring and summer and having him in the fold would certainly ease the potential pain of missing out on a talent like Akers. Dobbins is currently on the mend after suffering an ankle injury last week and the Buckeyes will have to continue fending off the Longhorns in the coming months. 

Greg Schiano and Co. check in with what is probably the nation's best 2017 defensive back unit. Amir Riep committed in July and there's likely still one or two spots open in the secondary. Shaun Wade will be a chore to hang on to and a player like Brendon White could still end up at linebacker, so adding one or two more seems pretty reasonable.

Grand Prairie, Texas' Jeffrey Okudah has been atop the defensive board for a long while now, and Ohio State continues to be in great shape for the five-star. Okudah cited his frequent communication with Urban Meyer as one of the things Ohio State has working in its favor, but the Sooners and their proximity to home are still worth paying attention to.

The nation's No. 6 player spoke with the aforementioned Wiltfong about his relationship with Ohio State.

Okudah says OSU has built a rapport with his family, coaches and trainers.

“I talk to Urban Meyer a lot,” Okudah said, adding iron sharpens iron when talking about possibly joining the Buckeyes top-ranked recruiting class. “I’ve talked to his wife before so it’s been an all-out recruitment." Via

Okudah has set one official visit so far and will make the trip to Norman in a few short weeks to watch Bob Stoops' squad square off against Ohio State. He was one of the stars at Nike's The Opening this summer, finishing as runner-up to J.K. Dobbins in the SPARQ testing.

Elsewhere in the secondary, a pair of the usual targets remain on the list in Lamont Wade and Darnay Holmes. Both appear to be unlikely at this point and we may have Wade a little higher than he should be. However, any movement on the other (Shaun) Wade front could lead to a little more of a push for the Clairmont, Pennsylvania corner. As it stands today, Lamont Wade looks to be leaning toward Pittsburgh or Penn State while Holmes is likely to stay out West; though Michigan may be a dark horse.

One of the more interesting developments of August was a new offer being extended to Georgia's Xavier McKinney. The one-time Alabama commit is the country's 12th-ranked safety and the offer was personally delivered from Urban Meyer himself. It remains to be seen how quickly things will take off between the two parties, but McKinney (and his family) hasn't been shy about his affinity for the Scarlet and Gray.

Clemson is the current crystal ball favorite, but the four-star is planning on taking official visits before reaching any sort of decision.

Tight end recruiting has been a bit tough to follow this cycle as most assumed the staff would hold off and likely take a pair in 2018. Things got even more confusing last month when Sacramento's Josh Falo – ranked No. 4 at the position – was offered by the Buckeyes.

At 6-foot-5 and 227 pounds, Falo is one of the more athletic tight ends in America. This is another situation where the official visits will likely determine how things wind up, and even after getting involved relatively late, Ohio State could be one of those five destinations this fall. Oregon, USC, and a number of other schools are also being considered.

Sticking with the pass-catching theme, there are still question marks surrounding wide receiver recruiting and whether or not a third wideout will be brought in, so the two remaining wideouts check in at 10 and 11 on our list. Donovan Peoples-Jones seems like a long shot, though he can be unpredictable and somewhat randomly decided to visit Lincoln this week. Still, Michigan looks like the favorite with Florida perhaps being the biggest threat. 

The Jaylen Harris saga continues as Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Penn State were all included in his final five. Harris doesn't appear to be in a rush to make a decision and that could provide the Buckeyes enough time to figure out the numbers crunch before reaching a final decision on the state's top wideout. 

The Texas linebacker due of Baron Browning and Anthony Hines have both set a Nov. 29 announcement date. There's been speculation that the two could be favoring the same school and may pull a Grimes/Lindsey in late November. If that were to be the case, then Texas would appear to be the frontrunner. Hines had been rumored to be leaning toward Oklahoma, but some recent reports have squashed that. 

For the Buckeyes, something drastic may have to happen this fall for them to make a push for either one. Browning still appears to be the more likely of the two, thanks much in part to his relationship with Okudah. Regardless, linebacker isn't necessarily a big need right now; though finding someone to man the middle may be a question mark after the 2016 campaign. Class of 2018 prospects Palaie Gaoteote, Christopher Oats, and Dallas Gant all have Ohio State right at the top of their lists.

One of the biggest risers – who we conveniently decided to save for last – is Utah defensive tackle Jay Tufele. As we discussed in mid-August, it's tough to get any information on the four-star defender. What we do know is that he's planning on releasing a top five soon, and Ohio State will almost surely be on it. Utah, Michigan, and Oregon are also expected to make an appearance on said list. 

A reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune tweeted this out last week, though I'm not exactly sure how that conclusion was reached since there appears to be no associated article or other quotes.

Again, official visits and creating a family atmosphere will probably tell the tale with this one. Even with two defensive tackles in the fold, it's clear that Ohio State is looking to potentially add a third, and right now it looks like all of the focus is on the Utah product.

The number of targets is dwindling, but August did give us some new names to keep an eye on. Other new offers could certainly go out in the coming months, but it feels like the staff has things fairly narrowed down for now. 

Six new commitments have been added over the last two months (including a pair for the 2018 class), but things are definitely expected to slow down a bit now with the season starting back up. 

Rejoice, for football is back.

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