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.
ANOTHER PLAYER IN THE GAME?
Late last week, reports suggested Ohio State four-star quarterback commit Emory Jones may attend the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan State this weekend. But a trip to Columbus for a noon kickoff following a home playoff game the night before was always highly unlikely, so he made a short trip to Auburn for the Tigers’ game against top-ranked Georgia instead.
It’s just the latest twist in Jones’ recruitment, but it’s worth noting the Ohio State staff knew about and signed off on the visit. So should you be worried about the Tigers flipping him now, too?
I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t history between the two parties. Alabama has received the bulk of the attention, but Jones’ interest in Auburn isn’t anything new. He’s been to campus several times and grew rather close to former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rhett Lashlee during the initial recruiting process.
Lashlee has since moved onto the same position at Connecticut, but the Tigers still run head coach Gus Malzahn’s offense — and that has to be intriguing to a dual-threat quarterback like Jones.
This visit also suggests to me that Jones is truly trying to making sure Columbus is where he wants to be. Those close to him continue to say that’s been the case all along, though they can’t really explain why he’s taken four visits to Alabama since the spring.
It’s a strange situation all around, and Ohio State — which continues to hold out hope Jones sticks with his commitment through it all — remains in the dark on Jones’ eventual plans. The longer this continues, the more you’ll see the Buckeyes continue to recruit other quarterbacks.
The staff is not going and cannot afford to be left at the altar on signing day, so I truly wonder how much longer they’ll wait before giving Jones an ultimatum. Do you want in or not?
THAT SOUTH BEACH SWAGGER
The name most often considered Ohio State’s top contingency plan in case Jones does eventually decommit or flip his pledge is four-star quarterback Jarren Williams, who announced this morning on Snapchat that he has reopened his recruitment.
The decision comes less than 24 hours after the 6-foot-2, 206-pound Williams took an official visit to Miami and six days before he makes his first trip to Columbus. He also plans to visit Auburn for the regular-season finale against Alabama, but there’s no denying the Hurricanes have taken the lead in his roller-coaster recruitment following their blowout win over Notre Dame last night.
Miami no longer has a quarterback in its fourth-ranked recruiting class after four-star Artur Sitkowski flipped to Rutgers last week — though the decision was surely mutual after he lost his starting spot at IMG Academy earlier this fall. That means the Hurricanes can focus all their attention on Williams, as opposed to the Buckeyes being handcuffed by Jones and his non-committalness.
As mentioned, Williams will be on campus for this weekend’s game against Illinois. And it’s important to remember he remains the only contingency plan at the quarterback position who possesses an offer from the Buckeyes.
I can speak with absolute certainty when I say Saturday’s atmosphere won’t come close to replicating what a Top 10 matchup in Miami did last night. So for Ohio State to have a shot to land Williams’ pledge, the staff will have to show him there’s a faster way to the field in Columbus than South Beach — and I just don’t see that happening.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Ohio State welcomed Tennessee four-star commit Adrian Martinez for an official visit this weekend, the same weekend in which Volunteers fired head coach Butch Jones.
The 6-foot-2, 198-pound Martinez — a native of Fresno, California — is considered the seventh-best dual-threat quarterback and No. 155 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, as he’s thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 2,500 yards and 14 scores in his three-year varsity career at Clovis West. He committed to Tennessee in May over two dozen other offers from programs such as Alabama, Arizona State, Georgia, Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington State.
Martinez has indicated in recently weeks he’s firmly committed to the Volunteers despite the possibility of a coaching change, but it’s hard to ignore what his trip to Columbus — which was painted as a secret visit — could mean in the long run.
The biggest roadblock for Ohio State, it seems, is Martinez’s relationship with Tennessee quarterbacks coach Mike Canales. If he’s not retained by the new coaching staff, it’s hard to imagine Martinez ending up in Knoxville.
To further complicate things, Martinez — who is one of two quarterbacks committed to the Volunteers, along with Tampa three-star Michael Penix — plans to graduate early and enroll in college in January.
Things are about to get even more interesting on Ole Rocky Top.