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.
SAME OLD STORY
With a little over two weeks until college football’s first Early Signing Period and no game until the end of the month, Ohio State’s coaches hit the recruiting trail in full force on Monday morning.
Assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs was in Texas to visit with Houston five-star cornerback Anthony Cook, who — according to ESPN’s Gerry Hamilton — will announce his college decision on Dec. 20.
The 6-foot, 168-pound Cook has long been down to LSU, Ohio State and Texas, and was originally set to commit to a school on Oct. 30. Though most believed he would pledge his services to the Longhorns that day, he indefinitely delayed his timeline as he remained torn among the three programs.
For the Buckeyes, it was a small glimmer of hope in what became a disappointing recruitment. Ohio State has been the perceived leader since the staff offered Cook a scholarship nearly two years ago, but Texas made a significant push under first-year head coach Tom Herman, and the chance to help resurrect that program alongside current teammates and fellow in-state prospects became an intriguing proposition for the talented defensive back.
Of the three programs, the Longhorns also offer the quickest route to playing time. The Buckeyes, while they hold the upper hand in terms of development, would likely redshirt Cook his freshman year.
Ohio State has been playing catch-up ever since Cook’s official visit to Texas in mid-October, and there’s been nothing to suggest they’ve closed the gap since. Another trip to Columbus would have done wonders for the Buckeyes’ chances, but it appears he won’t take any more visits before faxing in his letter of intent.
All that said, I anticipate Cook will pick the Longhorns, with the Tigers finishing a distant second because of proximity.
Ohio State has circled Jacksonville Trinity Christian four-star safety Tyreke Johnson as its primary target instead, thanks to his ability to line up anywhere in the defensive backfield and his relationship with cornerback Shaun Wade.
RACKING UP THE MILES
Once the confetti stopped falling onto the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday evening, the Ohio State staff almost immediately turned its focus from the Big Ten Championship to the recruiting trail.
Coaches were dispatched to all corners of the country, with the aforementioned Coombs heading to Texas and defensive line coach Larry Johnson flying to Idaho for an in-home visit with four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai.
Head coach Urban Meyer, meanwhile, traveled to Tennessee on Monday, where he and assistants Greg Studrawa and Tony Alford spent time with four-star offensive tackle commit Max Wray and four-star running back pledge Master Teague III.
Both Teague and Wray are set to sign with the Buckeyes on Dec. 20 and enroll in classes in January.
Meyer and Studrawa then traveled to Chattanooga to visit with uncommitted three-star offensive tackle Walker Culver. There, they made what will likely be their final pitch before he makes a decision after his trip to Virginia Tech this coming weekend.
Quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, meanwhile, was in Lawrenceville, Georgia, this morning to meet with four-star quarterback Jarren Williams, though it’s widely anticipated he’ll commit to Miami when he makes his college announcement on Dec. 6. He then traveled to Franklin to visit four-star quarterback commit Emory Jones.
That meeting is rather significant given some expect Jones to reopen his recruitment by the end of the week. His senior season wrapped up on Friday with a loss in the state semifinals, which means Jones can focus solely on his recruitment moving forward.
Sadly, the visit feels like it’ll be for naught, and the staff will focus on landing a commitment from Texas three-star Matthew Baldwin moving forward.
We'll have more throughout the week, as coaches continue to check in on commits and top targets. Tuesday, for example, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will be in New York to visit with five-star tight end pledge Jeremy Ruckert and watch four-star offensive guard commit Matthew Jones compete for a city championship at Yankee Stadium.
A LOT RIDING ON THIS WEEK'S VISIT
In yesterday's edition of The Hurry Up, I mentioned how Ohio State five-star defensive end commit Brenton Cox took an official visit to Alabama this weekend. And while that trip has been planned for quite some time, sources close to the football program have told Eleven Warriors they're not feeling very optimistic about the Buckeyes holding onto his pledge.
In fact, they believe Cox may reopen his recruitment soon, which is why defensive line coach Larry Johnson is expected to travel to Georgia in the coming days in hopes of securing an official visit — which is supposed to happen this coming weekend. That'll give Ohio State a chance to once again show Cox why he fell in love with the program in the first place.
As mentioned several times in recent weeks, proximity to home gives Alabama an advantage, while that — plus the ability to play alongside several long-time friends who are committed or are already in Athens — warrants serious consideration for Georgia. Either way, the Buckeyes have a serious fight on their hands, which is somewhat suprising given the way Cox talked so highly of his relationship with Johnson and how the program can develop him into a first-round NFL Draft pick just a month or so ago.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, rumors of Johnson's potential retirement — which sources close to the program also told Eleven Warriors are unfounded — continue to hurt the Buckeyes with top-flight defensive lineman on the recruiting trail. I'm sure he'll address that with Cox this week.
Now, I've said this before and I'll say it again now: If Cox makes it to Columbus this weekend, I believe he'll sign with Ohio State on Dec. 20. But if he decommits before then, there's a real possibility the Buckeyes could miss out on their top three targets at the defensive end position.