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.
PUSHING THE CHIPS TO THE CENTER OF THE TABLE
Ohio State does not have an opponent this coming weekend, but that doesn't mean the staff is taking the week off.
Head coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano were among the several coaches to hit the recruiting trail on Monday, as they flew to Houston to meet with and watch five-star conerback Anthony Cook practice this afternoon, Lamar defensive backs coach Theadis Reagins told Eleven Warriors.
This marks what is likely the final pitch from the Buckeyes to the 6-foot, 168-pound Cook, who is considered the second-best cornerback and No. 14 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — as he won't take any more visits before his Oct. 30 decision among LSU, Ohio State and Texas. He visited Austin twice this fall, Columbus for the Sept. 9 loss to Oklahoma and Baton Rouge this past weekend.
The Buckeyes have long been considered the leader in Cook's recruitment, thanks to their knack for putting defensive backs in the National Football League and his relationship with the staff and fellow Texan Jeffrey Okudah. But the Longhorns reportedly pulled even following his official visit during their open weekend earlier this month.
“Texas really showed me something,” Cook said. “I don’t know what it was about Texas. It was just one of those visits where you feel it. I loved everything about it.”
That wasn't exactly what Ohio State wanted to hear, as his last memory of Columbus was the Buckeyes walking off the field in defeat. But the mood surrounding the program remains upbeat, as the staff hopes its above-mentioned resume and two years of building a relationship is able to withstand one visit.
There will undoubtedly be reports about one team taking a lead late, but it’s important to keep in mind Cook is still unsure of where he wants to go exactly two weeks before his decision.
“I think he's still weighing his options,” Reagins said.
Cook has talked a lot about his desire to see improvement from Texas under head coach Tom Herman, and this season has been a step in the right direction. The Longhorns absolutely have a shot as a result. But keep in mind, Texas was also obliterated by Maryland during his visit for the season opener, meaning the Buckeyes' loss to the Sooners with Cook in attendance isn't going to hurt their chances in the least.
But what this comes down to is whether or not Cook wants to stay home and play with some of his teammates like Lamar four-star cornerback D'shawn Jamison, who committed to the Longhorns on Saturday, or if he wants to be a part of what is clearly the superior program and one that will surely mold him into a first-round pick. I still think it's the latter.
POSITIONING THEMSELVES FOR A RUN?
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, American Heritage five-star cornerback Patrick Surtain II included Ohio State in his Top 6 back in late August alongside Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State and LSU. It was unclear at that time if he'd take an official visit, but appears that's becoming closer to a reality.
“I know I'm supposed to schedule an Ohio State visit soon,” Surtain told 247Sports' Luke Stampini over the weekend. “It might be to the Penn State game. You know, I've been talking to the coaches about it. It should be happening soon.”
The 6-foot-2, 181-pound Surtain — who is considered the top-rated cornerback and No. 4 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — has been to Columbus only once before, just days ahead of the Buckeyes' annual Spring Game in mid-April. He made the trip with his father, as well as teammate and fellow five-star cornerback target Tyson Campbell.
“I just want to see the atmosphere and see the stadium, and see a great game,” Surtain said.
It's unclear whether Campbell would join Surtain on the visit, but it's very likely to happen, as he doesn't have any other trips scheduled for that weekend at this point in time.
LSU is considered the overwhelming favorite for Surtain, while Miami leads for Campbell. But the timing of their visit — given Cook's decision just two days later — couldn't work out better for Ohio State. If Cook decides to stay close to home, the Buckeyes will likely go all-out in their pursuit of Surtain and/or Campbell.
Neither has a timetable for a decision, though it's worth noting the latter has been the name most often linked to Ohio State.
BLOOD IN THE WATER
If all else fails, Ohio State hasn’t entirely given up its pursuit of Tennessee three-star cornerback commit Jaycee Horn. And why wouldn’t the Buckeyes, given the Volunteers’ struggles this season?
Sources close to the program told Eleven Warriors this morning assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs was in Alpharetta, Georgia, today to see the 6-foot, 180-pounder.
Horn, the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, is considered the 24th-best cornerback and No. 218 prospect overall in the Class of 2018. He landed an offer from Ohio State in March and made his second visit to campus for the aforementioned Spring Game.
The Buckeyes landed a commitment from Florida four-star Sevyn Banks just a few weeks later, and that — plus their pursuit of Campbell, Cook and Surtain — considerably decreased the chances of him ending up in Columbus. He committed to the Volunteers just a few months later. But now is the time when the staff makes contingencies in case they miss out on their top targets.
Who better than a prospect who is still taking visits amid uncertainty in Knoxville?
Horn’s pledge could very well be a casualty of Butch Jones’ seemingly inevitable firing, and Ohio State will be there waiting.