The Hurry Up: Ohio State Offers Wideout Alontae Taylor While Michigan Enters Race for Defensive End Jayson Oweh

By Andrew Lind on October 12, 2017 at 6:50 pm
Alontae Taylor

Alontae Taylor

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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.

BACK ON ROCKY TOP

Seemingly not a day passes without Ohio State scouring through Tennessee in search of the state's best talent. And quite frankly, with the Volunteers playing as poorly as they are, who can blame the Buckeyes?

Wednesday afternoon's offer to Manchester Coffey County Central four-star wide receiver Alontae Taylor is especially noteworthy, though, given he's been committed to Tennessee for more than a year.

The 6-foot, 182-pound Taylor is considered the 29th-best receiver and No. 151 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, though he's amassed more than 7,500 yards and 70 total touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback for the Red Raiders. As mentioned, he chose the Volunteers in June 2016 over offers from schools such as Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.

Speculation surrounding head coach Butch Jones' future has Taylor looking around, though, with official visits to Georgia and Louisville set for later this year. There's no doubt in my mind Wednesday's offer from Ohio State puts the Buckeyes in the running for an official visit in the coming months, as well.

Like every prospect in the state, running backs coach and area recruiter Tony Alford was the one who offered Taylor, who plays in the same division as running back commit Master Teague III and offensive tackle pledge Max Wray. I'm sure they're already in his ear already, too.

Other than taking into account Tennessee's struggles, the timing of the offer to Taylor seems a bit odd from the outside, given the wide receiver discussion for much of this cycle has revolved around just L'Christian “Blue” Smith and Kamryn Babb. But this — as well as Saturday's offer to California three-star Chris Olave — makes it clear the staff hopes to bring on at least two true wide receivers in 2018.

I anticipate Taylor remains firm in his pledge despite the overture, especially since programs like Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and Stanford have all come calling in the time since his commitment. But if Jones is fired, all bets are off.

And, before you ask, neither offer has anything to do with the staff's feelings about Babb's looming decision. When the time comes, both they and I expect him to be a Buckeye. 

COMING IN ON THE BACKSTRETCH

All summer, Blairstown, New Jersey, Blair Academy four-star defensive end Jayson Oweh was focused on three schools: Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State. But it should go without saying an offer from Michigan on Wednesday could certainly change the scope of his entire recruitment.

“This is a huge offer for me because they’re both academically and athletically strong," Oweh told 247Sports. "This is definitely a game changer. My parents are excited about the offer as well.”

You may recall the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Oweh initally planned to make a decision on his future shortly after his trip to Columbus for Friday Night Lights, which was immediately preceded by trips to Penn State for the Lasch Basch and Notre Dame for the Irish Invasion. He pushed back that timeline, though, and will instead announced at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4, 2018.

“I just felt like it was best to see how these teams did this season,” Oweh told Eleven Warriors. “Just more time to evaluate, basically.”

That has also allowed teams like Florida and Michigan — which will both receive an official visit at a to-be-determined date this fall — to enter the running for Oweh's services. He's already used his official visit to Ohio State for the 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, and will also make a trip to Penn State in November. 

I continue to feel as if the Buckeyes are the leader in his recruitment, with the Nittany Lions nipping at their heels. There's potential for the Gators and Wolverines to make a move, as well, but offering this late makes it feel impossible to overcome the relationships already established with defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

AN OLD-FASHIONED B1G-PAC 12 BATTLE

What appeared just a few weeks ago to be a battle between Ohio State and USC for Pocatello, Idaho, Highland four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai apparently no longer includes the Trojans. This from his head coach Gino Mariani:

“It doesn’t sound like he’s going to visit USC or Wisconsin,” Mariani told 247Sports. “He’s down to those two. It’s either Ohio State or Washington.”

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Togiai — who is considered the sixth-best defensive tackle and No. 94 prosect overall in the Class of 2018 — took an official visit to Ohio State for the aforementioned loss to Oklahoma last month, his second trip to Columbus this summer. And the news of his final two comes just days after Togiai took his official visit to Washington.

Now, Togiai eyes a December announcement date, which gives him the ability to step back from the high of his most recent visit and weigh the pros and cons of each opportunity. With both programs among the nation's elite, some assume Togiai will choose the Huskies because of proximity. But as ESPN's Lee Corso says... not so fast, my friends.

“I've talked to his dad, and dad's not worried about that," Mariani told Eleven Warriors. "Mom might be, if any of them are worried about that. But at the end of the day, if it's Washington or USC or Ohio State, it doesn't matter, you're still getting on a plane for a couple of hours or getting in the car for 11 or 15. If it was proximity, Utah would be the place he'd go.

“I just think what Ohio State has to offer and the way they're selling it is the right way,” he continued. “At the end of the day, at least in my opinion, is the best fit for him.”

The Buckeyes already hold commitments from five-star Taron Vincent and junior college transfer Antwuan Jackson at the defensive tackle position, but there's certainly room in the class for all three. Now, the staff must hope his "amazing" visits are able to withstand the test of time.

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