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.
FROM THE LOU' AND I'M PROUD
St. Louis Parkway North four-star defensive tackle Michael Thompson Jr. included Ohio State in his Top 5 on Thursday night alongside Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Missouri.
— Michael Thompson Jr (@mthompson201) July 14, 2017
The 6-foot-4, 291-pound Thompson is considered the second-best defensive tackle and No. 43 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, as he recorded 14 sacks to be named second-team all-state as a junior. He was on campus for last season's win over Indiana, his first and only time in Columbus.
Ohio State already holds a commit from IMG Academy five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent and remains a threat to flip Miami four-star pledge Nesta Silvera. My colleague, Andrew Ellis, detailed the Buckeyes' plans at the position just a few days ago.
Missouri, meanwhile, is the favorite to land his commitment thanks to location. It would be a big step forward for the Tigers, who have failed to keep top prospects home in recent years. LSU and Michigan are two to keep an eye on, though, thanks to a perceived lack of depth along their defensive fronts.
A SUDDEN CHANGE OF HEART
Long assumed to be an Ohio State lean, IMG Academy four-star center/offensive guard Verdis Brown committed to Florida State during an unofficial visit on Friday afternoon.
— Verdisbrown77 (@verdisbrown) July 14, 2017
The timing of Brown's decision seemingly comes out of nowhere, as he previously told Eleven Warriors he planned to attend Friday Night Lights next weekend. That's unlikely now.
Ohio State had the upper hand thanks to Brown's relationship with offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, but his move from Chicago's Mount Carmel to IMG this offseason gave Florida State a significant advantage — ease of access and the relationships that build as a result are what also allowed the Seminoles to make things close with the aforementioned Vincent this spring.
Tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Tim Brewster, a familiar name from battles with Florida State for Vincent and Virginia Beach linebacker Teradja Mitchell, once again led the charge for the Seminoles.
Brown wasn't expected to make a decision until shortly before the Ascenders begin their chase for a third-consecutive undefeated season. Ohio State, as mentioned, and Illinois both anticipated he would make at least one more visit before making the call.
Now that Brown has picked Florida State, the Buckeyes will likely put all their efforts into Pennsylvania four-star Fredrick "Juice" Scruggs to play center. Four-star offensive guard commit Matthew Jones could probably play center at the next level, too, so it's not as if the staff doesn't have a litany of options moving forward.
A BUSY MONTH AHEAD
The visitor list for Friday Night Lights only continues to grow, as St. Louis Trinity Christian head coach Cory Patterson confirmed to Eleven Warriors that four-star athlete Isaiah Williams, four-star wide receiver Marcus Washington and four-star linebacker Shammond Cooper will all be in attendance.
The visit is part of a three-weekend trip to Alabama, Illinois and Michigan, which kicks off tomorrow in Tuscaloosa.
The Buckeyes are just one of 42 programs to have offered the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Williams thus far, doing so in early March. He is considered the third-best athlete and No. 50 prospect overall, having thrown for 2,565 yards and 29 touchdowns and rushed for 896 yards and 20 touchdowns to lead the Titans to their first state title game appearance last season.
Ohio State offered Cooper and Williams in late April, meanwhile.
"It's my dream school," Cooper told Eleven Warriors, acknowledging St. Louis native Ezekiel Elliott's role. "Seeing a St. Louis guy go down there and do well has a lot to do with it."
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Cooper is considered the 11th-best outside linebacker and No. 130 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he led the Titans with 140 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and four sacks last season. He holds two dozen offers from programs such as Auburn, Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Washington, last but not least, is considered the 13th-best wideout and No. 56 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he caught 33 passes for 676 yards and nine touchdowns to be named first-team all-metro last season. He holds more than 20 offers from programs such as Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
SOMETHING TO KEEP AN EYE ON
Four-star wide receiver L'Christian "Blue" Smith will be in Lexington, Kentucky, this weekend, marking what will likely be his last unofficial visit before he makes his college decision during Huber Heights Wayne's nationally televised game against Pine-Richland, Pennsylvania, on ESPN in late August.
“I just told coach [Vince] Marrow we need to have a man-to-man conversation,” Smith told Eleven Warriors at The Opening earlier this month. “We just need to talk about everything. If I do end up going there, what is the plan? He hasn't given me a plan yet. Coach [Urban] Meyer gave me a plan, so I just want to give each school a fair chance to tell me what they want.”
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Smith is seemingly down to Ohio State and Kentucky. And the conversation with Meyer to which he is referring is one that involved the Buckeyes' plan for him within their offense and for life after football. All the talk leading up to that was about Smith playing tight end at the next level, something he doesn't want — but has come to understand may be a possibility.
“That's completely settled,” Smith said. “They gave me two plans. One of the plans was if I were to stay this size, [I'll be a] wide receiver. Just like I am now, and how they're recruiting me at wide receiver. But if I was to grow like my brothers — they're 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10 — then I'd be a tight end. It's all about my development."
That narrative, of course, allowed the Wildcats to make Smith's recruitment interesting this spring. But given the fact that he continues to call Ohio State "the place to be," I don't see this weekend as anything other than Smith telling the Kentucky staff how much he appreciates their efforts.