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.
THE FLAG WAVES STRONG IN THE STATE UP NORTH
Though seemingly everyone's focus during last weekend's Friday Night Lights recruiting event was on a potential commitment Doug Nester, another five-star offensive tackle made the trip to Columbus. And though he didn't work out, Devonte Dobbs spent a considerable amount of time with head coach Urban Meyer, assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
“They said they're very excited to be recruiting me and said they want me to come down more,” Dobbs — a Belleville, Michigan, native — told Eleven Warriors.
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Dobbs is considered the top-rated offensive tackle and No. 16 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he holds more than two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee and Wisconsin. He actually earned his offer from the Buckeyes during Friday Night Lights last summer, has seen his relationship Coombs — who recruits Michigan with a passion — flourish in the year since.
Last weekend's visit was more so about the chance to further his relationship with Studrawa, though.
“It's great,” Dobbs said. “He really talks about the way they develop players on and off the field. I like that in a program.”
Dobbs is set to release a list of his Top 20 through 25 schools on Aug. 23, which certainly draw criticism from commenters in The Hurry Up that evening. But for someone who is nowhere close to a decision — something Dobbs doesn't expect to come until sometime during his senior season — it's a necessary step in finding the right program.
“I'm still going over schools with my family, [but Ohio State] will definitely be on my list,” Dobbs said.
DO THEY HAVE A CHANCE?
Last night, Apopka, Florida, four-star offensive tackle William Barnes included Ohio State in his Top 7 on Thursday night alongside Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and North Carolina. It comes as no surprise, given he had great things to say about his first and only trip to Columbus for a spring practice in early April.
The question now becomes whether or not the Buckeyes actually have a chance to land a pledge from the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Barnes, who is considered the fifth-best offensive tackle and No. 45 prospect overall in the Class of 2018.
What immediately stands out about his list is the fact that Ohio State is the only program north of the Mason-Dixon Line, which is almost never a good sign for the Buckeyes. It usually signifies that a prospect is unlikely to leave the south and only included the school based on merit — it happens quite a bit, and you see it regularly in almost every other edition of The Hurry Up.
I'm quite honest with you when that happens, too. However, that's not necessarily the case for Barnes.
I asked him point blank if he had any reservations about playing far from home or dealing with the colder weather that doesn't plague any of the ACC or SEC schools he also listed. Sure enough, he said he did not.
When you're putting players into the National Football League at the same rate as Ohio State, that component is going to be easy to get past. Heck, some of the best professional football is played in cold weather. But I digress.
Ohio State currently holds a commitment from Tennessee four-star offensive tackle Max Wray and remains the favorite to land Fairfield five-star Jackson Carman. If he chooses in December to play his college ball at Clemson, though, the Buckeyes will certainly need to look elsewhere for another prospect at a position of great need.
Barnes fits the mold Studrawa likes in his linemen, and you can certainly bet Ohio State would make a push for his pledge if push comes to shove. There's talk of the staff pursuing as many as three offensive tackles, too, so maybe they land all three?
The Gators are the overwhelming favorite at this point in time, but another trip to Columbus — and an explanation of where the staff sees him fit — could put the Buckeyes right in the thick of things later on in the process.
CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT ON THE RECRUITING TRAIL
When Luke Fickell was the defensive coordinator at Ohio State, one of his top in-state priorities was Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller four-star defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins. And despite his departure, he 6-foot-3, 265-pound Hawkins wanted to commit to the Buckeyes during a visit in early April — his umpteenth trip to campus in the last year or so.
That visit passed, though, and shortly thereafter the two sides began to drift apart. The staff landed a pledge from five-star defensive Taron Vincent and continued to chase other national prospects like Nesta Silvera and Tommy Togiai, which certainly isn't going to sit well with someone who feels like they should be a priority instead of a last resort.
Still, Hawkins — 23rd-best defensive tackle and No. 284 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — returned to campus for the Spring Game a few weeks later. Then, he included Ohio State in his Top 7 a few weeks later alongside Alabama, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Penn State, Pittsburgh and USC.
With plans of announcing his decision sometime this summer, Hawkins made trips to Cincinnati and Penn State during their key recruiting weekends. And with both pushing for his pledge, he told the local newspaper on Thursday the Bearcats and Nittany Lions made his Final 2.
"They're both home to me," Hawkins said. "It's tough.”
Should he pick the Bearcats, he'll obviously be reunited with Fickell. He'll also follow in his father's footsteps. But it looks as if the Nittany Lions have surged into the lead following his visit for the Lasch Bash earlier this month.
Hawkins is a great kid who is undoubtedly going to succeed wherever he goes. And after having grown up rooting for Ohio State, he'll now get the chance to play against the Buckeyes in the coming years.