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.
THE SAGA CONTINUES
With only a few days until college football's first Early Signing Period, it won't be much longer before we find out the final destination for Ohio State four-star quarterback commit Emory Jones. But while Alabama and Auburn have been his rumored destinion if he were to flip, it appears another program is making a late push to land his pledge.
According to multiple reports, Jones is currently on an official visit to Florida. The news since been confirmed by Eleven Warriors, as well.
— SEC Country Florida (@SECCountryUF) December 15, 2017
Jones' visit comes on the heels of California four-star quarterback Matt Corral suddenly flipping his pledge on Thursday night from Florida to Ole Miss. His decision now leaves the Gators without a signal caller in their 2018 recruiting class.
Now, the news wasn't all that surprising, given Corral committed to Jim McElwain and new head coach Dan Mullen would rather have a dual-threat than pro-style quarterback run his offense. But with Florida unlikley to flip Georgia five-star commit Justin Fields or Auburn four-star pledge Joey Gatewood in the coming days, it appears the program has zeroed in on Jones.
You may recall, Jones told reporters at Friday Night Lights this summer he was interested in seeing what the Gators had to offer, but the previous staff decided to focus its efforts on Corral and Fields instead. He did acknowledge earlier this month he'd listen if Mullen called, though.
Now, I mentioned in yesterday's edition of The Hurry Up how there has been a growing but cautious confidence that the Buckeyes can hold onto Jones' pledge. But things change rather quickly on the recruiting trail, and Florida has to be viewed as a serious threat this late in the process.
It's important to remember, Mullen was an assistant under Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, and he has the same offensive philosophy, too. The fit is there, but the Gators have a lot to overcome in a short period of time.
THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL
I also mentioned in last night’s update how Penn State head coach James Franklin and defensive line coach Sean Spencer planned to attend Cleveland Height four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith’s basketball game on Thursday night.
However, shortly after the story was published, several sources — one close to Smith and one close to the Nittany Lions’ program — told Eleven Warriors he called off the visit once again, marking the second time that’s happened in three days. And this all follows an official visit to State College over the weekend that, according to the Penn State source, did not go how Franklin and his staff had hoped.
Now that’s not only a complete 180-degree turn from where things stood not even a week ago, but a welcomed turn of events, as Ohio State was on the verge of watching one of the state’s top players choose a conference foe.
Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, “What made Smith change his mind? After all, he seemed absolutely set on Penn State.” It’s really been the perfect storm for the Buckeyes, though.
There’s a glaring lack of depth at defensive end, and the opportunity to play early is intriguing. Penn State, meanwhile, has eight defensive ends on the roster and is the favorite to land five-star Micah Parsons and four-star Jayson Oweh.
Above all else, Ohio State gets the edge because of defensive line coach Larry Johnson. Despite retirement rumors — which he emphatically shut down this afternoon — he’s forged a strong relationship with Smith and his family.
Conveniently, Meyer and Johnson will be in the building for Cleveland Heights’ game against Lutheran East this evening. They’ll go in-home afterwards, at which time I anticipate Smith will silently pledge his services to the Buckeyes.
Smith has long planned to make his college announcement during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4, and sources indicate that still remains the plan.
This weekend, as you may have gathered, is the final weekend for official visits to take place before college football’s recruiting calendar turns to a dead period on Monday.
That means no more in-person contact between coaches and prospects until Jan. 11, which spans the Early Signing Period, Under Armour Game and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
So while Florida is using this weekend as an opportunity to flip Jones — and four-star safety Jaiden Woodbey is rumored to be visiting USC — Ohio State is instead hosting two firmly committed prospects in four-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell and junior college defensive tackle transfer Antwuan Jackson.
— 7ERADJA (@WhosThatNumber7) December 15, 2017
Both are set to sign next week and enroll in classes in January, but their respective schedules did not allow for an in-season visit.