The Hurry Up: Top In-State Prospects Trim Lists While Ohio State Continues to Comb Through Tennessee In Search of Talent

By Andrew Lind on April 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Tavion Thomas
Tavion Thomas

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.


As each year passes, Ohio State's recruiting classes continue to have less local and more national flavor. The Buckeyes signed only seven homegrown prospects in their most recent haul, and both head coach Urban Meyer and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni admitted it wasn't enough.

“Fifty percent is kind of the mark that I've been trying to — I keep it right in front of me, and I stare at it to make sure that we're doing right," Meyer said on National Signing Day.

“We always have to keep reminding ourselves Ohio kids are our first priority,” Pantoni added. “Sometimes we probably over evaluate them because those are the kids we get to camp so many times. We know all about [them] versus a kid out of state. Trust me, we place so much emphasis on the state of Ohio and we're going to continue to and do our best to get the best players out of the state of Ohio.”

One of the top-rated in-state prospects who some feel might leave the state as a result of Ohio State's increased national presence is Huber Heights Wayne four-star wide receiver L'Christian “Blue” Smith, though he did include the Buckeyes in his Top 10 on Thursday night alongside Alabama, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Penn State and Tennessee.

From the outside, it seems as if Ohio State will continue to chase several higher-rated wideouts like St. Louis' Kamryn Babb and Houston's Brennan Eagles instead of making the 6-foot-6, 205-pound Smith a priority. He doesn't feel like that's the case, though.

“They just want me,” Smith told Eleven Warriors during Nike Football's The Opening Cleveland Regional earlier this month. “[Coach Meyer and wide receivers coach Zach Smith are] bringing me in their offices, talking to me personally without my dad and the other coaches. Just one-on-one, kind of sit down and show me who's leaving, who they're missing and where they need me at. Stuff like that. Just seeing that stuff proves to me they really want me at the school.”

Seeing as he's listed as an athlete instead of a wide receiver by most recruiting sites, there's a lot of talk that Smith may be best suited to play tight end at the next level. He doesn't take too kindly to that narrative, though, which is why the Wildcats' pitch of making him their go-to wideout is intriguing.

Not to mention the relationships he's formed with their staff, as well.

“When I go down there, everyone in the facility — it doesn't matter if they know me — they see me walking and they're stopping whatever they're doing to see how I'm doing, if I need anything. It just feels like another home down there,” Smith said. “I talk to coach [Vince] Marrow every day. He's a super recruiter. He knows what he's doing. It's just the people pretty much, the community down there.”

Trips to South Bend and Knoxville are currently on the docket for Smith this summer, but it's hard to envision him ending up anywhere other than Columbus or Lexington when he makes a decision in the fall.

“I'm a momma's boy, so leaving my mom is going to be kind of hard,” he said. “I just want to go somewhere where I know I'm being taken care of, I'm being protected and I'm pushed to my fullest potential.”

Dayton Dunbar four-star running back Tavion Thomas also narrowed things down on Thursday night, including Ohio State in his Top 10 alongside Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, USC, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“I like what [the Buckeyes] have going on,” Thomas recently told Eleven Warriors. “Coach [Greg] Studrawa is really cool and coach Tony [Alford] is very funny. We talk almost every day.”

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Thomas is also in an a tough spot as a top in-state prospect, seeing as the staff already holds commitments from running backs Jaelen Gill and Brian Snead and would like to add only one more to the fold in 2018. He may have already pledged his services to Ohio State, too, if it weren't for North Carolina five-star Zamir White.

Thomas, who saw his stock soar in February despite only playing six games at running back, doesn't plan on making a decision on his future until after his senior season. White, meanwhile, will commit to a school in late June, so there will be clarity on the situation sooner rather than later.

Last but not least is Cleveland Heights four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith, who intends to narrow his schools down to 12 at some point on Friday night.

He's probably the most likely of the three to end up in Columbus, and if I had to give my best guess at which schools will be included, I'd say Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Texas, UCLA and USC.

"The relationship I have with coach [Larry] Johnson and coach Meyer [stand out about the Buckeyes]," Smith told Eleven Warriors at the aforementioned Cleveland Regional. "He's a great coach and a great person. We have a good relationship. That's my guy."

As it stands, Ohio State and Penn State seem to be the front runner in Smith's recruitment. He's been on both campuses numerous times in the last year, and the Nittany Lions were one of the first programs to offer him a scholarship.

"I know they believed in me from the start," Smith said. "That means a lot to me.”

Smith, nation's eighth-ranked defensive end, plans to take all five official visits and then decide on his future later this fall.

“I'm just going to take my time,” he said.

Until then, fans will just have to dream of he and Chase Young, Brenton Cox and maybe Micah Parsons terrorizing defenders together.


Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford continued on his seemingly week-long treck through Tennessee on Thursday, at which time he offered a scholarship to Nashville Davidson Academy four-star defensive end Ani Izuchukwu.

He becomes the third prospect from the Volunteer State to earn a scholarship from the Buckeyes in as many days.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Izuchukwu, a native Nigerian, is considered the ninth-best weak-side defensive end and No. 133 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, though he missed most of his sophomore season with a shoulder injury.

He also holds offers from Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Memphis, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee.

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