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.
HERE WE GO AGAIN
Alabama and Florida State will open their respective seasons in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the brand new Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 2. And according to SEC Country, Ohio State four-star quarterback commit Emory Jones is among the many prospects expencted to attend the highly anticipated showdown between the Crimson Tide and Seminoles.
— Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) August 21, 2017
Now, before you start to make a big deal about the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Jones attending a game that involves the team most often linked to a potential flip, let's keep in mind that it's a neutral-site game; he won't be able to speak with the coaches from either program involved as a result. Atlanta is also about an hour drive from his hometown of Franklin, and I'm sure it would hard to turn down tickets to what may be the game of the year in college football.
Jones admitted after Friday Night Lights in late July that he understands why fans are concerned about him taking visits elsewhere. After all, he is already committed to a school. But for his sake, he simply wants to make sure Columbus is the place for him after making a decision so early in the process.
“I'm still a Buckeye, I'm still committed, so ain't nothing to worry about right now,” he said. “[I'm] just making sure this is the right place for me. I never really had the chance to go on visit before I committed, so I feel like I need the chance to do that.”
This, and expected official visits later this season to Tuscaloosa and maybe Athens or Tallahassee, offers such an opportunity. So long as he remains open and honest with the coaching staff about his intentions — and undoubtedly returns to Columbus for at least one game this fall — then there's nothing to worry about.
BACK WHERE HE BELONGS
Over the next few days, Rivals will release its latest batch of player rankings for prospects in the Class of 2018. And with the new Rivals100, Ohio State linebacker commit Teradja Mitchell was bumped up to a five-star prospect.
— Rivals.com (@Rivals) August 21, 2017
“Mitchell has showed drastic improvement compared to this time last year,” Rivals' Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst Adam Friedman said. “The Ohio State commit has always been a big hitter and makes plays all over the field during the season, but the biggest knock on him has been his speed. As a huge inside linebacker, teams would try to take advantage of him in the passing game, but Mitchell has shed weight and has become an asset in coverage. The Buckeyes will rely on Mitchell much like they did Raekwon McMillan.”
The 6-foot-2, 232-pound Mitchell saw his stock drop across several recruiting sites following an admittedly subpar performance at Nike Football's The Opening Charlotte Regional in early May, as he posted a 5.01-second 40-yard-dash and a vertical jump barely exceeding 30 inches. In the months since, though, he's rededicated himself to getting in shape by eating better, drinking more water and working out with a hoodie in the humid Virginia Beach summer.
Mitchell is now Ohio State's top-rated commit at No. 15 overall, according to Rivals, with the following pledges among the Top 100 prospects, as well:
- No. 18 – Five-star quarterback Emory Jones
- No. 21 – Five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent
- No. 27 – Four-star running back Jaelen Gill
- No. 31 – Four-star defensive end Brenton Cox
- No. 34 – Four-star running back Brian Snead
- No. 35 – Four-star safety Jaiden Woodbey
- No. 83 – Four-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert
- No. 94 – Four-star linebacker K'Vaughan Pope
GOING ABOVE AND BEYOND
Four-star wide receiver L'Christian “Blue” Smith announced last night he'll be taking a hiatus from social media until he makes his college decision ahead of Huber Heights Wayne's nationally televised game against Pine-Richland, Pennnsylvania, on Sunday afternoon.
— BLUE (@bluesmith_) August 20, 2017
It's typical of a prospect to go silent in the days leading up to a decision, but this is a little different. I've witnessed as the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Smith has received a number of derogatory messages in the last few days and weeks — some even racially charged — from both Ohio State and Kentucky fans, and that is absoulely, 100 percent unacceptable.
“That's why I'm taking this little break,” Smith told Eleven Warriors. “Man, it's crazy, but I'll get used to it.”
I don't blame him at all for taking some time away, but I'm also saddened by the fact that he feels the need to do so. Blue is a great kid, an it's hard to believe that grown adults — or I should say 'adult-aged children' — have made such statements simply because he may not choose their favorite school.
All that said, I'll try to change the mood surrounding his impending pledge by sharing a portion of my interview from this afternoon with Smith's former teammate at Wayne, current Ohio State defensive tackle Robert Landers, who picked the school he grew up rooting for over an early offer from and commitment to West Virginia.
"I've talked to him a few times, but not much," Landers said when asked if he's been recruiting Smith at all. "It's more me telling him, 'Do what's best for you.' I didn't want to be that guy. You know, I could talk to him and try to persuade him and press him to go to this school or that school, but that's four to five years of his life. Wherever he goes, he's going to excel. He's a phenomenal athlete and great kid."
Two weeks to the day after Ohio State offered him a scholarship, Flower Mound, Texas, Marcus four-star linebacker Marcel Brooks included the Buckeyes in his Top 9 alongside Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Texas and TCU.
— FrEE sNiPER 5 (@MarcelBrooks_5) August 20, 2017
"They're a good fit for me," Brooks told Eleven Warriors when asked about his interest in Ohio State.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Brooks is considered the fifth-best outside linebacker and No. 49 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, though he played safety at Fort Worth's Nolan Catholic last season. He reportedly compares his game to that of Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor, who is widely considered the hardest hitting player in the National Football League.
The Longhorns and Sooners are considered the favorites at this stage in his recruitment, but it's worth noting Brooks called Penn State his “dream school” upon announcing his offer from the Nittany Lions later that month.