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.
BY ANY MEANS
According to his contract, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer can use a private jet for up to 50 hours per year for recruiting purposes. It's certainly a lot easier for him to connect with recruits on a personal basis through FaceTime, though, just as he did on Wednesday afternoon with Saint Simons Island, Georgia, Frederica Academy five-star junior wide receiver Ja'shawn Sheffield and his teammate, four-star athlete Jaylin Simpson.
It's actually a fairly common occurrence for top prospects to speak with coaches through the popular iPhone app, but it's interesting to see Sheffield and Simpson have only posted screenshots of their conversations with Meyer — and not Florida State's Jimbo Fisher or with any coaches from their other top schools. A similar photo was posted in February, and Sheffield previously told Eleven Warriors that's how he most often communicates with the Buckeyes' staff.
“Coach [Corey] Dennis let me see his new baby,” he said in December. “Coach [Zach] Smith was out eating with his kids. I got to meet them. Coach [Eron] Hodges was on vacation in Chicago. He was showing me his view. It's pretty cool talking with them."
With Ohio State's season opener against Indiana one week from tonight, the staff isn't afforded an opportunity to hit the recruiting trail. So this is how Meyer is able to keep in touch with two highly sought-after out-of-state prospects until they can get to campus for an unofficial visit this fall.
With a nickname like “Rocket,” it's hard not to root for Wayne, New Jersey, DePaul Catholic four-star athlete Ronnie Hickman. But I'm sure you're interested in knowing the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder — who called his offer from Ohio State in mid-April “a dream come true” and said he's been a fan of the Buckeyes since he could walk — told NJ.com the nickname has nothing to do with what he does on the field.
“It’s because when I was younger, I would take off and run like a rocket and fall right back down,“ he said. “It’s stuck with me ever since.”
Hickman — the seventh-best athlete and No. 101 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — now remains upright more often than not. He hauled in 42 catches for 660 yards and four touchdowns to help the Spartans to the state championship game last season, and also recorded 48 tackles and two interceptions as a safety, which is where the Buckeyes see him playing at the next level.
That loss to St. Joseph in the final at MetLife Stadium drives him, though.
“Throughout this whole offseason, we’ve really just been working hard and grinding,” Hickman said. “Ever since the first practice, our coach has been drilling us about being together, working hard and being mentally and physically tough.”
Hickman — who offers from programs such as Boston College, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State and Wisconsin — made his first and only trip to Columbus for the Spring Game. He spent a majority of his time on campus with defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.
“The visit was great,” Hickman told Eleven Warriors. “I loved it.”
According to the University of Florida Police, freshman wide receiver James Robinson and teammate Ventrell Miller were cited this week for possession of marijuana in their on-campus apartment.
2 UF football players, James Robinson and Ventrell Miller, were cited this week for pot in an on-campus apartment https://t.co/oEsCvlXILK— First Coast News (@FCN2go) August 24, 2017
The police report says a residential assistant walking outside of the Keys residential complex on campus smelled a "strong odor of burnt cannabis emanating in the air" around 12:30 a.m. Monday. He called University police who found the apartment and knocked on the door. A suitemate identified Robinson as the person who occupied the room that the odor was coming from.
Once inside the room, officers found a cloud of smoke and a styrofoam cup that police say appeared to be used as an ash tray. Robinson and Miller were in the room.
Officers asked Robinson where the cannabis was and he said it was in his top drawer. There were two small bags of marijuana and Robinson and Miller admitted to each owning one of the bags, the report says.
This isn't the first run-in with the law for 6-foot-4, 207-pound Robinson, who you may recall was issued a citation by the Columbus Police and charged with one count of possession of marijuana during an official visit to Ohio State in January. He was set to choose among Florida, Ohio State and Oklahoma just days later, but the Buckeyes and Sooners rescinded his scholarship offer as a result of the indiscretion.
Robinson signed with the Gators after head coach convinced school administration to let him join the football program, while Ohio State landed three-star wideout Ellijah Gardiner instead.
A STEP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION?
The Dayton Public School Board of Education on Tuesday night lowered the required grade-point average for student-athletes and introduced a mandatory tutoring program for those struggling to maintain eligibility.
Students who were previously required to earn at least a 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in order to play are now allowed to achieve between a 1.0 and 1.99, so long as they enroll in the school's Athletic Academic Intervention Program and make “satisfactory progress toward the established goal of a 2.0 GPA each academic quarter” — that means they can't go from a 1.5 to a 1.4 the following quarter or they'd be deemed ineligible.
Interestingly enough, the Ohio High School Athletic Association only requires students to pass at least five one-credit courses — the equivalent of a 0.67 GPA — to maintain eligibility and allows school districts to set their own standards, as Dayton had in recent years.
“That's what this plan is about,” said board of education president Dr. Robert Walker. “It's ensuring that all of our students are excelling, especially those who are participating in extra-curricular activities.”
All six schools within the Dayton Public School District — Belmont, Dunbar, Meadowdale, Ponitz, Stivers and Thurgood Marshall — are affected. The board of education, which voted 4-1 on the measure — did not address whether or not the changes had anything to do with Dunbar intentionally trying to lose a game last season in order to cover up the use of an ineligible player.
Now, on one hand, I understand why the district made these changes. It will likely increase participation from students, thus keeping them off the streets. It also gives students who need help the most more academic support.
But, at the same time, I don't think it takes very much effort to maintain a “C” average — you pretty much just have to show up and do your homework. It also furthers the unfair stereotype that athletes are lazy, stupid and/or receive preferential treatment.
And what happens when these kids try to attend college, where you must earn at least a 2.3 GPA in your core classes to maintain eligibility? Ohio State already passed on kids from Dunbar like running back Tavion Thomas and wide receiver Joseph “JoJo” Scates because of unsatisfactory grades. This just makes it harder for them to succeed later in life.