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 COMMONWEALTH IS TREATING THE BUCKEYES WELL
Ohio State rolled out the red carpet this weekend for Mineral, Virginia, Louisa County four-star defensive end Brandon Smith, as he and his family spent time talking with head coach Urban Meyer, athletic director Gene Smith and program assistant Stacy Elliott, the father of former Buckeye running back Ezekeil Elliott.
“It was an incredible experience,” Smith told Eleven Warriors. “They said I'm a top target, but they also said they like the way I play. How I'm athletic, have long arms, quickness and a high football IQ. Just the attention they showed and the way they treated everybody [stood out]. They're straightfoward and honest.”
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Smith is considered the sixth-best weak-side defensive end and No. 79 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 40 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and two sacks to garner first-team all-conference honors last season. He holds nearly two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Oregon, USC and Virginia Tech, but Ohio State and Penn State are standing out early in the process.
“Both show they care about you as soon as you come to campus,” Smith said. “They're not acting. They are who they are.”
This was Smith's second trip to Columbus, as he made a brief stop by campus in late June. Most of the staff was on vacation at that time, but linebackers coach Bill Davis postponed his to meet with Smith and offer him a scholarship that afternoon. His main goal this visit was being able to see more of the campus and getting time with Meyer — which he clearly accomplished.
With no plans to narrow things down or make a decision on his future anytime soon, Smith has just one goal.
“Just make sure we build upon the relationship we have,” he said.
OUT OF NOWHERE
Though Ohio State already holds a commitment from L'Chrisitan “Blue” Smith and appears set to land St. Louis four-star wide receiver Kamryn Babb, the staff offered a scholarship on Saturday afternoon to San Marcos, California, Mission Hills three-star wide receiver Chris Olave.
The 6-foot, 160-pound Olave is considered the 217th-best wide receiver and No. 1,462 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, but it's clear he's ranked too low after missing his entire junior season because he transferred high schools. He's made up for it this season, though, as he's recorded 33 catches for 818 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Olave — who also holds nearly a dozen other offers from programs such as Arizona State, Boise State, BYU, San Diego State, Utah and Washington State — has been talking with Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day for about a month, which led to the offer from the Buckeyes.
“They said they've watched my film and that I'm a great player,” Olave told Eleven Warriors. “They said I can come in right away and be a playmaker for them since they're losing a bunch of players. It's really cool. Just talking them is a blessing. It's unbelievable because Ohio State is a top program in the nation. To know that they have interest in me is unreal.”
Olave plans to take an official visit for the Nov. 11 game against Michigan State.
“I want to see how the academics are, how I fit in and how they treat me,” he said, noting he wants to major in business in college. “Just [want to see] how the vibe is out there.”
Olave and his family aren't worried about potentially playing far from home, but he admits he's nowhere close to making a decision on his future.
“I don't want to rush and I don't want to be promised anything,” he said. “[It'll come down to] how I fit in and if I can see myself there.”
As for how Olave fits into Ohio State's plans, it's unclear at this moment in time. He's a very talented prospect who runs very polished routes and was clocked at 10.8 seconds in the 100-meter dash, though.
If Babb surprisingly chooses to go elsewhere — for what it's worth, I don't foresee that happening — or if there's a spot open in the class late, expect the Buckeyes to make a move for his pledge.
BLOWN AWAY BY GAME DAY
Ohio State hosted Nashville Davidson Academy four-star defensive end Ani Izuchukwu for an unofficial visit during Saturday's 62-14 win over Maryland, his second trip to campus since the Buckeyes offered him a scholarship in April.
“It was great,” Izuchukwu told Eleven Warriors. “The things stand out mostly to me is the fans, [the] stadium’s big, coaches and the team are good on both sides, defense is crazy and same with offense. That [was] awesome.”
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Izuchukwu — a native Nigerian — is considered the 11th-best weak-side defensive end and No. 175 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, though he missed most of his sophomore season with a shoulder injury. He lists a Top 3 of Alabama, Ohio State and South Carolina, but also holds offers from programs such as Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
Izuchukwu spent a considerable amount of time with Meyer, running backs coach/area recruiter Tony Alford and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
“It was great,” Izuchukwu said. “[We talked] about our Friday night football and my health.”
Expect both sides to continue to build on that relationship and the Buckeyes to remain in the hunt for his pledge throughout the process.
THE FRONT OF THE PACK
Nashville Franklin Road Academy four-star wide receiver Lance Wilhoite was also on campus for Saturday’s game. He tagged along with Izuchukwu and Murfreesboro Oakland four-star cornerback Woodi Washington.
Cant wait to go back pic.twitter.com/znCFVU7DVv— Lance Wilhoite6 (@swaggylance) October 8, 2017
“It was electric,” Wilhoite told Eleven Warriors. “Ohio State fans and the community are second to none so far from all the schools I’ve been to. The atmosphere is crazy.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Wilhoite is considered the 24th-best receiver and No. 126 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 31 receptions for 452 yards and four touchdowns for the Panthers last season. He holds more than a dozen offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, North Carolina State, Ole Miss and Tennessee, but Ohio State is in a great spot early.
“Right now, they sit at No. 1 for sure,” Wilhoite said. “I’m really building relationships with the whole staff not just one person.”
Alford is leading Wilhoite’s recruitment, but Meyer and wide receivers coach Zach Smith have played a key role, as well.
“They are fun,” Wilhoite said, “[and] it’s not always about football when it comes to [Meyer]. He wants to know different stuff about me not just the football aspect. Like family, school and other things of that nature.”
Wilhoite will return to campus for the Buckeyes’ game against Penn State on Oct. 28, which will mark his third trip to campus. Don’t expect a commitment, though, as he plans to reveal a Top 10 list ahead of his senior season.
I’M SENSING A THEME ON ROCKY TOP
Ohio State also offered a scholarship on Saturday afternoon to Memphis Christian Brothers four-star offensive tackle/defensive end Bill Norton.
Extremely blessed to receive an offer from THE Ohio State University! pic.twitter.com/woOOqrJQcX— Bill Norton (@willienorton33) October 7, 2017
“It was definitely the offer I was looking for,” Norton told Eleven Warriors. “I have been working to get one from them ever since I went to their camp this summer.”
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Norton is considered the 23rd-best strong-side defensive end and No. 245 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 37 tackles, 16 tackles for a loss and five sacks for the Purple Wave last season. He holds offers from Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Tennessee, but Ohio State is certainly among his top choices at this point in the process.
Norton, as mentioned, attended Friday Night Lights back in July.
“I love how all the coaches tried to get players better fundamentally,” he said, mentioning the aforementioned Johnson’s instruction specifically. The aforementioned Alford and executive director for football relations Tim Hinton have made a significant impact on Norton’s recruitment in the months since, as well, and invited him to attend Saturday’s game.
“They are actually taking the time to get to know me and talk to me about things other than just football,” Norton said. “[The game] was awesome. Loved the energy of it.”
Norton hopes to return to a game sooner rather than later, though he’s also in no hurry to make a decision on his future.