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.
AND HERE... WE... GO.
Knowing four-star quarterback commit Emory Jones was set to take an official visit to Alabama this weekend, Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day made a trip to Georgia on Friday afternoon to meet with his coaches and then watch Heard County's game that evening.
With Day looking on from the press box, Jones put on a show. He threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran 56 yards for another score to lead the Braves to a 49-15 win over league foe Jordan.
Day's decision to stick around for the game was rather significant, too, as he was reportedly set to watch Kentucky four-star quarterback commit Jarren Williams that night instead. But more on that shortly.
Jones' trip to Alabama — the one that was supposed to occur last weekend, but didn't — was his fourth time in Tuscaloosa since the Crimson Tide offered him a scholarship in March. He should have been more forthcoming when Eleven Warriors' own Kevin Harrish asked about the potential visit, but we also recognize there was room for follow-up questions instead of assuming he was calling off any trips to Alabama for the rest of the season.
Regardless, the Crimson Tide continue to make a push in Jones' recruitment, hoping to flip him from his pledge sooner rather than later. The fact that Ohio State made it through the weekend without a decommitment is great news, though, and his official visit this Saturday for the Buckeyes' highly anticipated matchup with Penn State offers the chance for him to reaffirm his commitment with the staff.
All that said, Day and head coach Urban Meyer aren't going to be left at the alter if Jones does change his mind, and they've already been kicking the tires on other quarterbacks as a result. If they don't get a definitive answer from Jones about his intentions soon, expect Williams or Virginia Tech four-star quarterback commit Quincy Patterson II to land an offer in the near future.
Both have acknowledged their interest in Ohio State, but neither has any plans to visit campus at this point in time.
Another name to keep in mind is Texas four-star pledge Casey Thompson, as the Longhorns hold commitments from two players at the position and he already holds an offer from the staff. There's somewhat of a relationship between the two parties, though Ohio State admittedly stopped its pursuit upon zeroing in on Jones more than a year and a half ago.
Personally, I've never thought Jones' interest in Alabama was anything more than simple flirtation. After all, the Crimson Tide have been the most dominant football program in the country over the last decade and have won seven-consecutive recruiting titles. Who wouldn't at least listen if Nick Saban came calling?
Most opposed to my thinking point out the fact that Jones has seen the Crimson Tide three times — inlcuding a short trip to Atlanta for the Crimson Tide's neutral-site season-opener against Florida State — compared to not a single trip north this fall. But you have to remember, Jones plays every Friday night and the proximity to Tuscaloosa (two hours) compared to Columbus (nine) has made that difficult. And while Jones and his family have previously said distance from home would never play a role in his recruitment, it's certainly helped the narrative of a flip.
You have to keep in mind, though, Ohio State had a significant head start on its recruitment of Jones. He's been to Columbus almost twice as much as Tuscaloosa in the last two years, and his official visit this coming weekend will even the score at four visits apiece since the Crimson Tide offered him a scholarship in March.
No matter, we're reaching a critical point in Jones' recruitment. Ohio State hopes Saturday's visit offers a resolution, but the vibe right now suggests there's also a chance he reopens his recruitment in the days thereafter.
Ohio State defensive tackle commit Antwuan Jackson was also in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, but his visit isn't something to be too concerned with. The Buckeyes were the runners-up in Jackson's initial recruitment — when he picked Auburn — and their pairing seemed inevitable from the time he announced his intentions to transfer from the program in May.
ON THE ROAD
Ohio State defensive tackle coach Larry Johnson has played an instrumental part in Ohio State putting together top-ranked recruiting class, especially in the trenches.
His relationships with the aforementioned Jackson and five-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent go back several years and were without a doubt the biggest reason each picked the Buckeyes, while his knack for developing and sending elite defensive ends to the National Football League landed a commitment from five-star Brenton Cox.
Johnson now hopes to wrap up the current cycle by reeling in four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai, for whom he made a trip to Pocatello, Idaho, on Friday night.
I recently discussed the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Togiai, who you may recall narrowed down his list of more than a dozen offers to Ohio State and Washington. From Thursday's edition of The Hurry Up:
Togiai took an official visit to Ohio State for the aforementioned loss to Oklahoma last month, his second trip to Columbus this summer. He was reportedly blown away by both and contemplated committing following his most recent visit.
The same could be said about his trip to Washington, however, which is why Togiai eyes a December announcement date, giving him time to step back from the visit and weigh each opportunity without the emotional high.
So long as he doesn’t adjust that schedule, I continue to feel as if he’ll choose Ohio State. He and his family aren’t concerned with distance, and that certainly favors the Buckeyes when comparing the two programs.
“I just think what Ohio State has to offer and the way they're selling it is the right way,” Highland head coach Gino Mariani recently told Eleven Warriors. “At the end of the day, at least in my opinion, is the best fit for him.”
Washington defensive line coach Ikaika Malloe also attended Highland's game on Friday, a 42-29 win over Hillcrest on Senior Night.
NOT OVER YET, TO BE HONEST
Though he held offers from more than a dozen programs such as Alabama, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State, West Lafayette, Indiana, four-star defensive end George Karlaftis III elected to stay home and committed to Purdue on Friday evening.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Karlaftis is considered the 16th-best strong-side defensive end and No. 176 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he led the Red Devils with 179 tackles and has recorded eight sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown over the last two seasons.
Karlaftis' late father, Matt, was a football and track-and-field standout for the Hurricanes in the early 1990s, and holds the record for the longest javelin throw in school history. Shortly after meeting his wife, they moved to his homeland of Greece in 1998.
Karlaftis actually lived in Athens until he was 13 years old and didn't start playing football until late in his eighth-grade season when the family moved to West Lafayette. He won the bronze medal with Greece's 16-and-under water polo team in 2014 and won the state championship in shot put this spring.
Though Karlaftis took an unofficial visit to Columbus this summer, he narrowed down his list of offers to the Boilermakers, Hurricanes and Wolverines in August. His decision comes just two weeks after the Buckeyes extended an offer.
Purdue has only won nine games in the last four seasons, but the program's turnaround this season under head coach Jeff Brohm significantly increased the Boilermakers' chances and led to Karlaftis' pledge.
“They’ve turned this program around already and they haven’t really been there for that long so that's amazing and I think you're going do great things in the future,” he told 247Sports. “Both [Brohm and defensive coordinator Nick Holt] will tell you things how they are and be straight and honest with you! They will do great things in the future and I'm super excited to be a part of the family!”
Purdue then proceeded to lose to Rutgers on Saturday, which is why I don't anticipate any of the aforementioned programs giving up their pursuit of Karlaftis anytime soon.