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.
HOME SWEET HOME
With Ohio State's nationwide approach to recruiting, the staff is bound to find itself in situations late in the process where a long-time, out-of-state commit is reconsidering playing his college ball closer to home. After all, the thought of moving away from family, friends and everything you've ever known can be dauting — and something we've all had to deal with at one point in our lives.
It appears that is now the case for Georgia five-star defensive end Brenton Cox, who picked the Buckeyes over the home-state Bulldogs back in April. A combination of their recent success on the field and ability to play alongside kids he's known seemingly forever is enticing.
“Really, it is just the players there,” Cox told Dawg Nation's Jeff Sentell following Stockbridge's playoff loss on Friday night. “That’s the only big difference now with how I feel about Georgia.”
Cox admitted he doesn't have that same connection with Ohio State's current roster, and four-star quarterback pledge Emory Jones in the only Georgia prospect committed to the Buckeyes at the moment. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, also hold commitments from 2019 five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and four-star defensive taclke Rashad Cheney Jr., both of whom Cox grew up with.
This spring, Cox grew particularly close to Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, and that — plus his track record of developing prospects into first-round picks — was the deciding factor in his recruitment.
“Coach Johnson keeps me committed to Ohio State right now,” Cox said. “I’ve just seen what coach Larry Johnson has done with some recent defensive ends and other defensive ends. I know he can do that same stuff for me.”
But Cox, a finalist for the USA TODAY Sports Defensive Player of the Year after he finished his senior season with 36 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and five sacks despite constantly being double- and sometimes triple-teamed, is the type of player where his God-given talent alone should get him to the next level. And that's something he's taken into consideration, too.
“I think about it every day,” Cox said. “It is kind of close. I think about staying at home and going to Georgia or going up to Ohio State. Right now, it is still Ohio State, but [Georgia] is kind of gaining on them.”
Cox plans to take official visits to Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State in the coming weeks — though no the dates aren't yet set in stone. There's no denying confidence is growing in and around the Bulldogs' program. But I think the trip to Columbus — which the Buckeyes will undoubtedly knock out of the part — will remind him again why he fell in love with the program in the first place, and they'll be able to hold onto his pledge as a result.
Cox plans to enroll in classes in January, so we'll know the resolution sooner rather than later.
AN UNRESOLVED SITUATION
Ohio State remains in a bit of a holding pattern, meanwhile, when it comes to the above-mentioned Jones, who visited both Auburn and Florida State this weekend.
The four-star quarterback commit was in Tallahassee on Thursday night as Heard County prepared for the state quarterfinals in Thomasville, which is about 45 minutes away from the Seminoles' campus. Sources close to Jones told Eleven Warriors he spent the night, hung out with some current players and threw the ball around at the team's practice facility.
Florida State was a program Jones mentioned he wanted to visit this spring, but nothing developed as the Seminoles chased now-Georgia five-star quarterback commit Justin Fields. Now that it appears head coach Jimbo Fisher might be on his way to Texas A&M, it's unclear if Jones' interest in the program remains.
It's important to understand Thursday night's visit was more so about simply being in the area than it was Jones seeking out a visit.
After Jones accounted for three touchdowns in the Braves' 28-14 win, he headed to Auburn for its game against top-ranked Alabama. It was his second unofficial visit in the last month, but that same source doesn't believe the Tigers have a legitimate shot at flipping him from his pledge.
So all of that said, Jones remains committed to Ohio State — though the strength of that pledge varies depending on who you ask or how you view his string of visits elsewhere this fall — and Alabama is the only program that could seemingly change his mind.
Like Cox, time is running out for Jones to make a final decision. And while the Buckeyes continue to pursue other quarterbacks in case he does flip to the Crimson Tide, getting him back on campus one final time next month is the staff's top priority.
LOTS OF MOVING PIECES
In last night's edition of The Hurry Up, I suggested Ohio State four-star safety commits Josh Proctor and Jaiden Woodbey could potentially be a casualty of what seemed like defensive coordinator Greg Schiano's inevitable departure.
And even though Tennessee backed out of a deal already in place to make that happen a few short hours later, Woodbey admitted the coach played a rather large role in his decision to commit to the Buckeyes back in February.
“I’m kind of hurt right now,” Woodbey told Land of 10's Jeremy Birmingham. “He was the main reason why I was still 100 percent with Ohio State.”
Woodbey has been the subject of much speculation since the summer, with Oklahoma and USC pushing hard for a flip. He plans to sign with the Buckeyes next month, but a source close to him told Eleven Warriors he first hopes to make trips to Norman and Los Angeles to — once again — make sure Columbus is the right place for him.
So all that said, Schiano remains at Ohio State for the time being. And if the Buckeyes can retain him for the foreseeable future, it'll go a long way toward holding onto Woodbey's pledge, too.
Hidden among the reports announcing Tennessee was set to hire Schiano, the backlash that followed and the program backing out of the deal, three-star cornerback Jaycee Horn decommitted from the Volunteers on Sunday afternoon.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Horn committed to Tennessee in August, but started looking around when the Volunteers fired head coach Butch Jones earlier this month. His decision comes just hours after an official visit to South Carolina for the game against Clemson, which is why the Gamecocks are the favorites to eventually land his pledge.
Ohio State maintained interest in Horn, the son of former NFL wide receiver Joe Horn, since the staff offered him a scholarship in March. He was on campus for the Spring Game one month later, but a commitment from Florida four-star cornerback Sevyn Banks considerably decreased the chances of Horn ending up in Columbus.
But as Ohio State saw its lead for Texas five-star Anthony Cook slip away, Horn came back into focus. Assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs stopped by his high school last month to gauge his interest in the Buckeyes.
Florida four-star safety Tyreke Johnson — who would transition to cornerback at the next level — has become the staff's top target now that Cook is seemingly off the table. But if Horn is interested in making another trip to campus, there's a chance he could find himself in the class late in the process.