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.
BORENS AND BOSAS AND WRAYS, OH MY!
Yesterday morning, 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons placed a Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Ohio State for Franklin, Tennessee, four-star offensive tackle Max Wray. Of course, follow the leader ensued and the Buckeyes quickly became the favorite to land the 6-foot-7, 289-pounder by night's end.
Wray and his family took a three-day trip to Columbus last week, so it came as no surprise to see Simmons — who is well connected in that part of the country — make his prediction as a result. I did find those thereafter to be a bit disingenuous, though, so I reached out to Wray's father, Sam, before casting my own prediction this morning.
“[The visit] was first class,” Sam Wray told Eleven Warriors. “They're definitely among the leaders. The people there, the need for tackles, the personality of the coaching staff... It just clicked.”
So less than a month after the staff offered a scholarship to Wray — the fourth-best offensive tackle and No. 57 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — Ohio State now sits in the Top 4 with Alabama, LSU and Tennessee.
“Took us by surprise,” the elder Wray said. “Urban Meyer is very persuasive.”
Wray and his family have visited each of the finalists within the last month or so, and now he's ready to sit down and make a decision.
“Within the next two or three weeks,” the elder Wray said, when asked how soon a decision will come and what will be the main factors. “[A chance to] play early, the coaching staff, academics and life after football. I think these schools provide that.”
If Wray, a former Georgia commit, ends up in Columbus — as I now think he will — it bodes well for the Class of 2020, too. His younger brother, Jake, is among the top sophomore offensive tackles in the country and could easily follow in his brother's footsteps.
This week figures to be all important in the recruitment of a pair of talented Florida cornerbacks who Ohio State has been trying to get on campus for quite some time, as five-star Patrick Surtain Jr. and four-star Tyson Campbell flew into Columbus for a two-day visit on Wednesday night.
I'm here Columbus .... HI— PS2 (@SurtainJr) April 13, 2017
Just landed in Columbus— Tyson Campbell (@tyson_003) April 13, 2017
The Fort Lauderdale American Heritage teammates — considered the top-rated and 10th-ranked cornerbacks in the Class of 2018, respectively — are unable to attend Saturday's Spring Game, which can certainly be looked in a negative light. But, in reality, visiting on a non-game day means the staff can give them more individualized attention and show them around the campus instead of being just another one of the herd.
Seeing as neither is close to a decision, chances are high they'll both return for an official visit and see all the game day festivities anyway. Florida State, LSU and Miami all stand to make a run at both Campbell and Surtain, but their visit will go a long way in keeping Ohio State in the hunt until the end.
LEADER OF THE PACK
Ohio State four-star running back Jaelen Gill participated in Nike Football's The Opening Cleveland Regional on Sunday, where he earned an invitation to the finals for the second-consecutive year. It was Gill's first camp action since he suffered a fractured fibula in the first game of his junior season, so he was anxious to show what he could do.
“Rehab was definitely a struggle. I got through it. Just had to work hard,” Gill told Eleven Warriors. “I'm in baseball right now, so I feel really good. I'm running around, cutting corners fine. I'd say I'm probably in the 90s percentage-wise. I feel great.”
He showed no ill-effects from the injury, accelerating through most drills with ease. He was wearing Ohio State gloves throughout the combine-style event and used every opportunity he could to recruit some of the other top prospects in attendance, including five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman, four-star linebacker Dallas Gant and four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith.
Gill will have his recruiting hat on once again for this weekend's spring game, and may even host good friend and Penn State five-star defensive end commit Micah Parsons at his home.
“I've taken it upon myself to make sure he flips, so we're on him every day. Just putting it in his head, 'You're gonna be a Buckeye,'” Gill said. “I'm real confident we'll get him to flip. I mean, he named his dog Brutus...”
LOTS OF OPTIONS
Springfield four-star Leonard Taylor surprised a lot of people when he committed to Michigan during its Spring Game last April, despite holding an offer from Ohio State. Four months later, he was back on the market, and the Buckeyes instantly became the front-runner in his recruitment.
“That just wasn't the best choice for me [at that time],” Taylor told Eleven Warriors at Sunday's Cleveland Regional. “I just needed to wait it out, let the process [unfold] and learn things that I needed to learn.”
A lot has changed since then. And while the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Taylor is still considering Michigan and Ohio State, schools like Kentucky, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State and Pittsburgh have all started to look like attractive destinations.
“I haven't found that one yet,” Taylor said. “Still looking.”
Programs seem torn on whether he'll play defensive end or tight end at the next level, which certainly factors into his decision.
“I love all three positions I play,” Taylor said, noting he also plays quarterback and wouldn't be opposed to playing it at the next level if the right team came calling. “Ohio State is recruiting me to play defensive end, Michigan State is recruiting me to play tight end and Michigan is recruiting me to play tight end.”
Still, Taylor enjoys being recruited as both because if he doesn't like his decision, it still allows him to move around at the next level to find what position fits him best. He plans to narrow down his 17 scholarship offers before football season and make a decision on his future next February.
I expect Ohio State to make the cut at the very least, and if the staff pushes for his commitment, for Taylor to become a Buckeye when it's all said and done.
“I've always had a great relationship with Ohio State,” he said. “[Coach Larry Johnson said he likes] my size, my speed and my arm length.”
It wasn't expected, but Ohio State welcomed Santa Ana, California, Mater Dei four-star linebacker Solomon Nokeakua-Stroud Tuliaupupu to campus on Thursday afternoon. It's his first trip to Ohio, and he'll be here through Sunday.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Tuliaupupu is considered the third-best inside linebacker and No. 59 prospect overall in the Class of 2018. He holds more than 30 offers from programs such as Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC — the presumed favorite — and Washington.
With his family alongside him, this weekend is rather significant if the Buckeyes ultimately want to pull Tuiliaupupu away from the California sun.
“I don't want to rule anyone out because of distance,” Tuliaupupu told Eleven Warriors. "It would definitely be nice to have all my family at my games, but I ultimately just want to choose the college best for me."