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.
PRIMED FOR FLIPPING
With Ohio State still awaiting a final decision from four-star quarterback commit Emory Jones, it appears the Buckeyes have positioned themselves well to add another signal caller if he eventually does flip his pledge to Alabama — as is widely expected.
“If I don't stay with Tennessee, then Ohio State is the school I'll probably go with,” Fresno, California, Clovis West four-star quarterback Adrian Martinez told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “They're the other school I'm basically considering.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Martinez committed to the Volunteers in May, but took a surprise official visit to Columbus with all of the speculation surrounding head coach Butch Jones — who was actually fired that very weekend. He's reaffirmed his pledge several times since, but the insanity of the program's coaching search has only made an already difficult decision tougher.
The only thing seemingly keeping the marriage together is quarterbacks coach Mike Canales, and who knows if he'll be retained by the new staff... that is, if anyone ever takes the job.
“I can't say 100 percent that I'm going to sign there on Dec. 20,” Martinez said. “That's where I want to be, but with everything going on, I just don't know 100 percent.”
Martinez, like Jones, was named an Under Armour All-American this fall. He missed his entire senior season while rehabbing a surgically repaired labrum in his throwing shoulder, but told Eleven Warriors he plans to play in the game on Jan. 4 in Orlando.
“I'm excited to get out there and finally play,” Martinez said.
Ohio State would, of course, prefer to hold onto Jones, but Martinez would be a great contingency plan after he finished his high school career with 3,869 total yards and 41 touchdowns. Whether or not he's fully recovered from that injury remains to be seen, but I don't believe head coach Urban Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day would be as interested as they are if there were any concerns.
LONG TIME COMING
Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has been keeping tabs on Wichita, Kansas, Northwest four-star defensive end Marcus Hicks since the spring, but finally decided on Wednesday evening to extend a scholarship offer.
“If you’re talking about climbing the mountain of recruiting, this is pretty much the top of the mountain,” Kelvin Hicks, Marcus’ father, told Varsity Kansas. “This is all very humbling that they think so highly of Marcus.”
The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Hicks is considered the 19th-best defensive end and No. 294 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 59 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks for the Grizzlies last season. He holds nearly a dozen other offers from programs such as Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Johnson first visited Northwest in May, at which time he sat down with Grizzlies head coach Steve Martin. Hicks then made his first and only trip to Columbus for a one-day camp in June.
“Marcus loves the facilities and the tradition they have and how they develop lineman, but coach Johnson really stands out,” the elder Hicks said. “He’s a man of men. He carries himself very professionally and stands out differently than a lot of the other coaches. I know Marcus was blown away by the offer.”
Sources close to Hicks have told Eleven Warriors academics will likely play a significant role in his decision, so I anticipate this will eventually come down to the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish.
Amid uncertainty around head coach Jimbo Fisher’s future, Florida State lost a pair of commitments once thought to be Ohio State leans when IMG Academy four-star center Verdis Brown and four-star cornerback Houston Griffith reopened their respective recruitments on Wednesday evening.
I have decided to decommit from Florida State University and reopen my recruitment.— Verdisbrown52 (@verdisbrown) November 30, 2017
The 6-foot-3, 294-pound Brown surprisingly pledged his services to the Seminoles following an unofficial visit in July. Before that, most believed he would end up in Columbus thanks to the Buckeyes’ desire to land a true center this recruiting cycle.
However, with New York four-star two-way lineman Matthew Jones — who exclusively played center this fall — already in the fold, Brown was no longer a priority for Ohio State.
There’s a slight chance the Buckeyes give him another look, but the staff would seemingly much rather finish out the current haul with five-star tackle Jackson Carman and another versatile prospect who can play both guard and tackle, someone like former Colorado three-star commit Walker Culver.
Ive decided to reopen my recruitment.— Houston Griffith (@___HG3) November 30, 2017
As for the 6-foot-1, 192-pound Griffith, he committed to Florida State in October, something many expected once Brown entered the fold. They’re both from Chicago and have grown even closer as teammates at IMG.
Ohio State and defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs had significant interest early in the process, and there was hope this spring Griffith would commit to the Buckeyes. But with the staff already holding a commitment from four-star Sevyn Banks and chasing five-star Anthony Cook, he began to trend elsewhere.
Nebraska and Notre Dame we’re both trendy picks over the summer, too, and an in-home visit from Fighting Irish defensive backs coach Todd Lyght seems to have had a significant impact in Griffith’s decision to open things back up.
With Ohio State having circled four-star Tyreke Johnson as its top target in the defensive backfield, I anticipate Griffith will end up in South Bend. All signs point to Brown choosing Illinois, meanwhile.
CAN'T SAY I'M SURPRISED
Remember Jermaine Eskridge, the four-star athlete from Tampa who once said he was going to make his college announcement while visiting Ohio State for the annual Spring Game?
Well, it appeared for a few hours on Wednesday afternoon his curious recruitment had finally come to an end when he announced his commitment to Florida.
1000% committed pic.twitter.com/OAnQQmhY7l— EJ (@Iam_Jermaine4) November 29, 2017
Reports surfaced shortly thereafter that the Gators had not accepted any commitments yesterday, adding yet another chapter to an already wild story.
To recap, Eskridge — a one-time Kentucky commit — included Ohio State in his Top 3 alongside Alabama and Miami last summer, but then added Florida and Oregon back into the mix the following day at his mother's insistence. He was scheduled to take an unofficial visit to Columbus one week later, but called off the trip at the last minute and instead pledged his services to South Florida out of the blue.
A month went by before Eskridge reopened his recruitment, claiming he made an emotional decision based on the fact that several other local recruits pledged their services to the Bulls that week. He then played his entire junior season without making a single comment with regard to his recruitment before narrowing his — reported — list of 50 offers to Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State in April.
Eskridge then attended the Buckeyes' Spring Game on the same day he planned to make his college decision. He was never a "take" for Ohio State, so Columbus would have made a rather interesting backdrop for a commitment to another school.
The day passed without any news, as expected, and Eskridge seemingly disappeared again. Until Wednesday, that is, when he announced he was committing to a school without having ever talked to its new staff.
Sadly, I anticipate this isn't the last time we hear from him.