The Hurry Up: Ohio State Visits Defensive Lineman Tyler Friday While USC Linebacker Commit Palaie Gaoteote Shuts Down Recruitment

By Andrew Lind on December 13, 2017 at 6:50 pm
Palaie Gaoteote

Palaie Gaoteote

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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.

AN UNEXPECTED ROUTE

With Ohio State having a glaring need at defensive end following five-star Brenton Cox’s decommitment last week, a familiar but surprising prospect has emerged as a legitimate option for the Buckeyes. 

Ramsey, New Jersey, Don Bosco Prep four-star Tyler Friday has been long presumed to be a Michigan lean, but Ohio State made quite the impression during his official visit for the 52-14 win over Illinois. The opportunity to learn under someone with defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s stature and his ability to play outside — and maybe see the field earlier than he would elsewhere as a result — is certainly intriguing. 

Greg Schiano was in New Jersey on Wednesday to meet with Friday and his coach, Mike Teel, who played for the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator at Rutgers. That connection could surely pay dividends, though it’s unclear how long he’ll remain in Columbus as he’ll undoubtedly continue to pursue head coaching opportunities moving forward.

I mentioned last month the 6-foot-3, 263-pound Friday — who recently listed a Top 5 of Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and UCLA — would have been more highly recruited if programs weren’t unsure whether he’s best suited to play on the offensive or defensive line. Alabama, for example, offered him as an offensive guard, but now view him as a defensive end thanks to his strength and length. 

Friday already has a similar stature to Tyquan Lewis, who was named the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year as a junior and will likely be a high NFL Draft prospect this spring. The Buckeyes would play him on the strong side of the line, however.

Now, there was the belief that Friday would hold off on a decision until February, but he received a visit from Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban on Tuesday and will take an official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend. Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh is also expected before the dead period begins on Monday, so all signs seemingly point toward Friday announcing his college decision on Dec. 20.

This weekend’s trip to Alabama could be a game changers, but Ohio State has to feel good about its chances of landing a prospect who has been connected to Michigan the entire cycle. And with the Buckeyes unlikely to add both four-star ends Jayson Oweh and Tyreke Smith next month, Friday has to be strongly considering playing his college ball in Columbus. 

SO MUCH FOR THAT

Though it was a long shot, Ohio State hoped to get Las Vegas Bishop Gorman five-star linebacker Palaie Gaoteote on campus for an official visit to make one final push for a flip before he signed with USC next week. It was too little too late, however, as he has decided to shut down his recruitment entirely.

“I decided to not go on the Ohio State visit or any upcoming visit and completely shut the recruiting process down as far as recruiting goes,” Gaoteote told 247Sports.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Gaoteote committed to the Trojans in February, but told Eleven Warriors this summer he would make another trip to Columbus before making his final college decision. Many believed his relationship with quarterback Tate Martell and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett would help the Buckeyes win out.

There was little to suggest Gaoteote would change his pledge, though, especially after Ohio State landed commitments from four-star linebackers Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell and K'Vaughan Pope this summer. Of course, he's the type of player you make room for even if you don't have it, so the staff was going to welcome him with open arms either way.

Gaoteote was supposed to be on campus last weekend and had been eyeing trips to Oregon, UCLA and Washington, as well, but those obviously aren't going to happen. The Buckeyes will look to get fellow California linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu on campus before National Signing Day on February, too, but all signs point to the two of them playing alongside one another at USC.

INCHING CLOSER

Just one day after he and defensive line coach Larry Johnson secured a commitment from four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was in Fairfield hoping to put the finishing touches on another elite prospect, five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman.

This was the Buckeyes' final pitch to the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Carman, who has been the staff's top target — not only at the offensive tackle position, but of the entire class — all cycle. He is coming off an official visit to Clemson this past weekend, is set to take an official visit to USC this weekend and will then sign with the school of his choice during the Early Signing Period next week.

As I mentioned in my most recent recruiting mailbag, Ohio State feels extremely confident about its chances to land the top-rated player in the state, while sources close to both the Tigers and Trojans don't feel the same way they once did. It also works in Ohio State's favor that Meyer had the last in-home visit before a decision, as USC's Clay Helton was in Fairfield last week and Clemson's Dabo Swinney made the trip on Tuesday morning.

In the end, I believe Carman's familiarity with the program, his relationship with Meyer and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and the Buckeyes' need at the offensive tackle position should win out. It's admittedly a considerable change from feelings this spring, when all signs seemingly pointed toward him being the first top-rated in-state prospect to leave Ohio in more than a decade.

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