The Hurry Up: Decisions Loom for Four-Stars Markquese Bell and Xavier McKinney at Under Armour All-American Game

By Andrew Lind on December 29, 2016 at 7:15 pm
Xavier McKinney
Xavier McKinney

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.


Though overshadowed by the U.S. Army All-American Bowl — and rightfully so because it's a better game that features nine Ohio State commits — a pair of four-star targets are set to make their college decisions during the Under Armour All-American Game on Sunday afternoon.

One prospect — Bridgeton, New Jersey, athlete Markquese Bell — has pushed back his announcement on several occasions with the hope the Buckeyes would have room for him when he finally pulled the trigger, while the other — Roswell, Georgia, safety Xavier McKinney — hasn't offered much insight into his recruitment at all.

So let's first start with 6-foot-3, 188-pound Bell, who is considered the seventh-best athlete and the No. 188 prospect overall in the Class of 2017.

As mentioned, his recruitment has long been considered a waiting game. Co-defensive coordinator Greg Schiano is a big fan of his athleticism, size and versatility, but the issue is Bell doesn't really have a position at this point in time. He can add muscle to become a linebacker, but that ship seemingly sailed with commitments from Baron Browning and Pete Werner this month.

That said, if Bell wants to play at Ohio State, he should continue to wait for to see how the class unfolds. Worse comes to worst, the Buckeyes would be forced to choose between adding him or Massillon offensive tackle Thayer Munford on signing day. But if he's dead set on making a decision on Sunday, Maryland will likely be the choice.

When it comes to the 6-foot-1, 192-pound McKinney, things are a bit simpler. A one-time Alabama commit, McKinney reopened his recruitment last fall to make sure he was making the right decision. Schools such as Clemson, Georgia and Ohio State all offered a scholarship and are presumed to be in McKinney's final group as he heads toward his decision.

Now the Buckeyes already hold commitments from defensive backs Shaun Wade, Isaiah Pryor, Amir Riep and Marcus Williamson and are hoping to add five-stars Jeffrey Okudah and Darnay Holmes at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next week, thus haven't put much effort into McKinney's recruitment.

So here's what it comes down to, and it's something I've talked about several times since four-star offensive tackle Jake Moretti decommitted in mid-November: Will the Buckeyes use their limited number of scholarships remaining on an offensive lineman like the aforementioned Munford or simply take the best players available?

If it's the latter, McKinney fits the bill. He's the eighth-best safety and the No. 70 prospect overall in the Class of 2017. But it's worth noting his decision could also give us an early look into Holmes' thinking. I mean, the Buckeyes won't add both, will they?


If you want to get an up-close look at Bell, McKinney or five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who included Ohio State in his Top 5 on Tuesday night, ESPN is broadcasting practice and the American Family Insurance Skills Challenge on Friday evening.

Coverage begins with the practice session on ESPNU at 2 p.m., with the skills challenge set for 6 o'clock on ESPN2.

Ohio State commits Isaiah Pryor and Marcus Williamson are also playing in the game, while five-star receiver pledge Trevon Grimes was selected but will sit out after tearing his ACL in September.

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