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.
A TIME GONE BY
Though he's been committed to Ohio State since July 2016, four-star quarterback Emory Jones will not be signing with the Buckeyes on Wednesday. The news was first reported by Buckeye Grove's Marc Givler and since confirmed by Eleven Warriors.
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Jones took several visits to Alabama this fall, which sparked non-stop speculation about the stregnth of his commitment. He claimed he wanted to take a few visits to “make sure” Columbus was the right place for him, but rumors of a flip only intensified with each return trip to Tuscaloosa.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day hoped Jones would make a final decision — either decommit so they could chase other quarterbacks or shut down his recruitment entirely — following his official visit for the highly anticipated game against Penn State.
He did not make his intentions clear, so the Buckeyes offered the likes of then-Kentucky four-star commit Jarren Williams and then-Colorado State three-star Matthew Baldwin. They also hosted then-Tennessee four-star commit Adrian Martinez for an unofficial visit, but never offered amid concerns over his surgically repaired shoulder.
Jones went on a few more visits in the meantime, including two trips to Auburn late in the season.
As the Early Signing Period drew closer, it appeared Ohio State had a chance to hold onto Jones despite the visits — in fact, another source close to Jones recently told Eleven Warriors in the week he wanted to reaffirm his commitment with the Buckeyes when it came time to fax in his letter of intent.
The Buckeyes remained loyal to Jones throughout the process, but when he was unable to give Meyer and Day his undevided pledge during an in-home visit earlier this month, thy decided to move on without him and accepted a commitment but the aforementioned Baldwin just three days later.
Without a spot in the class, Jones took official visits to Florida and Florida State this past weekend. The Gators are now the favorite to land his pledge on Wednesday, given Dan Mullen was the first head coach to offer him a scholarship when he was at Mississippi State and the program is in desperate need of a quarterback after four-star Matt Corral flipped to Ole Miss last Thursday.
“I don’t know what Emory’s thoughts are at this point. We’re still not there yet in terms of the decision,” Jones' mother, Trina, told SEC Country. “This evening we’re going to spend some time talking and we’ll just go from there. I’m kind of ready for this to come to an end. I want him to be able to enjoy the rest of his senior year without recruiting. Everybody knows we’re in the middle of some craziness at the end of this journey, so we’re just trying to figure things out and move forward. Time is crunching in.”
When Jones presumably faxes his letter to Gainesville, it will bring to end one of the wildest recruitments I've ever covered. And for Ohio State, the Early Signing Period will surely bring mixed emotions.
The Buckeyes identified Jones very early in the process and singled him out at their guy. He was widely regarded as a can't-miss prospect who some called an more athletic version of J.T. Barrett. The staff stuck with him through a shoulder injury that could have easily derailed his career, but he wanted to see what other schools had to offer.
As a prospect who committed before his junior year, it makes sense. Especially after he landed an offer from Alabama, which has easily been the nation's premier program for most of his teenage life. But along the way, the relationship got strained, and Ohio State was forced to move on.
Baldwin wanted to be a Buckeye, Jones wasn't sure. So now he no longer has the chance.
MORE TO THE STORY
This morning, The Lantern reported that Ohio State was no longer recruiting Pennsylvania five-star defensive end Micah Parsons because of violations that occurred while on campus for his official visit in September.
And while that may have ultimately sealed Parsons’ fate, several sources close to the program told Eleven Warriors earlier this fall the Buckeyes made the decision to stop their pursuit of the talented pass-rusher independent of those findings.
In fact, I said as much when Parsons set his commitment date on Halloween and again when he included Ohio State among his Top 6 schools one week later.
Half a dozen visits over the course of a year, a strong bond with several commits and all the talent in the world wasn’t enough for the staff to overlook maturity concerns and relationships off the field, and Ohio State has gone its separate way. The last straw, it seemed, was when Parsons publicly advocated for a change at the quarterback position following the Buckeyes’ 31-16 loss to Oklahoma in September.
Sure, Ohio State needs defensive ends in the current cycle. But the Buckeyes have not actively recruited him since the visit and will be nothing more than a hat on the table for tomorrow’s announcement.
This likely won’t be the last time we discuss Parsons, as he’s widely expected to pick Penn State. But let’s hope for his sake, he’s able to overcome those maturity and relationship concerns that ended all hope of him landing in Columbus.
He is only a 17-year-old kid, after all.
‘TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE SIGNING DAY
Well, ladies and gentlemen, this recruiting cycle sure has been a wild ride. And while it’s still far from over — with National Signing Day in February a few months away — we’ve finally made it to the eve on college football’s first Early Signing Period.
Programs expect to secure signatures from most, if not every committed prospect, which means the bulk of the heavy lifting is finished. It’s just a matter of turning on the fax machine tomorrow and waiting for it to finish printing upward of 20 times.
So, who will sign with Ohio State over the next three days?
- Texas three-star quarterback Matthew Baldwin
- Westerville South five-star running back Jaelen Gill
- Florida four-star running back Brian Snead
- Tennessee four-star running back Master Teague III
- St. Louis four-star wide receiver Kamryn Babb
- Huber Heights Wayne four-star wide receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith.
- New York five-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert
- New York four-star offensive guard Matthew Jones
- Tennessee four-star offensive tackle Max Wray
- Junior college defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson
- Idaho four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai
- Florida four-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent
- Toledo St. John's four-star linebacker Dallas Gant
- Virginia four-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell
- Virginia four-star linebacker K'Vaughan Pope
- Florida four-star cornerback Sevyn Banks
- Florida four-star cornerback Tyreke Johnson
- Pennsylvania three-star safety Marcus Hooker
- Oklahoma four-star safety Josh Proctor
California four-star safety Jaiden Woodbey is also set to sign on Wednesday evening, but it's unclear whether he'll do so with Florida State, Ohio State or USC. Given proximity and the fact that his father played for the Trojans, I expect him to flip his pledge.
The Buckeyes also await decisions from Fairfield five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman, Nebraska four-star wide receiver commit Cameron Brown and Pickerington North three-star defensive end Alex Williams. I anticipate all three will end up in Columbus, though Williams' big news was spoiled this afternoon.
Should be a fun day, and I hope you'll stay tuned to Eleven Warriors for the latest!