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.
LAST CHANCE TO IMPRESS
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said during his Cotton Bowl press conference the Buckeyes only had two or so spots remaining in the current recruiting cycle.
Whether or not he factored in Cleveland Heights four-star defensive end Tyreke Smith — who signed his letter of intent during the Early Signing Period but kept his intentions quiet until Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game — is unclear, but there’s no doubt numbers are tight as the staff looks to address needs at both offensive tackle and defensive end before the traditional Feb. 7 National Signing Day.
With that said, several prospects who don’t fit that bill are still interested in taking an official visit to Ohio State. And some, like California four-star linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu, are simply too talented to pass up.
If he wanted to commit, the Buckeyes would make room.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Tuliaupupu is eyeing an official visit on the weekend of Feb. 4, which would give the staff the last shot to sway his decision.
“I want my dad to see everything,” Tuliaupupu told Eleven Warriors, explaining how it was his coach who accompanied him on his first and only visit for the annual Spring Game in April. “I want him to keep me level-headed about everything. Make sure I really take it in and make sure I make the right decision.”
Tuliaupupu played his senior season at powerhouse Santa Ana Mater Dei, where he recorded 63 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, four sacks, four quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. The Monarchs went on to win the state championship, but Tuliaupupu missed the final two games after he suffered a Lisfranc injury. He’ll be sidelined four to six months as the bones in his foot heal.
“It was a good experience being there with my brothers,” Tuliaupupu said of the state championship run. “I was still doing my thing, being a loud mouth. Just getting them hyped up. It was tough not being on the field, but at the same time, I'm happy for my brothers.”
Reflecting on his visit last year, Tuliaupupu said he was impressed with Ohio State’s atmosphere, coaching, fans and the Real Life Wednesdays internship program. He’s not at all dismayed by the fact that the Buckeyes have three extremely talented linebackers already committed in four-stars Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell and K'Vaughan Pope.
“It doesn't matter to me at all. Competition is everywhere,” Tuliaupupu said. “Some say competition is better for you. I think it just depends on who you are. I great realtionships with those guys.”
After the visit, Tuliaupupu will sit down with his family and figure out where he wants to go to school. He’ll choose among Notre Dame, Ohio State, UCLA and USC.
“I'm still trying to figure some things out. This process is crazy. It's a blessing,” Tuliaupupu said. “I just want to prepare myself for life and develop as a man. I want to be able to say I used the four years to the best of my ability outside of football and be developed completely.”
Though he did not play in the game as he nursed a sprained ankle, Ohio State four-star safety signee Josh Proctor was appreciative of the opportunity to attend the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio this week.
“It's great,” Proctor told Eleven Warriors. “You know everybody here. It's just great to come out and hang out with the other guys. We're just really building relationships for later on.”
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Proctor finished his senior season with 39 tackles and four interceptions — two of which he returned for touchdowns — to lead Owasso, Oklahoma, to their first state championship in more than 40 years. He was named first-team all-state and Mr. Football as a result.
It’s not often a player of Proctor’s caliber opts to leave the state to play football. And though the Sooners made quite the push to flip his pledge late, Ohio State was where he wanted to be all along.
“It just felt like the right place for me,” Proctor said. “I'm comfortable. My relationships with the coaches are great. It's just a great environment. It’s always about football. I like that they actually get personal with me.”
Though he won’t enroll in classes until June, Proctor has a chance to crack the two-deep at safety early in his career thanks to his playmaking ability and lack of depth at the position following Damon Webb’s departure.
“I haven't really thought about [early playing time], but I just want to go in and compete,” Proctor said. “Be the best me.”
Nine Ohio State signees will begin classes when the semester starts tomorrow, including quarterback Matthew Baldwin; running back Master Teague III; offensive linemen Matthew Jones and Max Wray; defensive tackles Antwuan Jackson Jr. and Tommy Togiai; linebacker Dallas Gant; and cornerbacks Sevyn Banks and Tyreke Johnson.
These players graduated high school early, which allows them to enroll in college for spring semester and participate in spring practices. They’ll also be able to take part in the program’s offseason workout program.
Nine players enrolled in classes early last year, and some of them made a significant contribution in 2017. Among them, running back J.K. Dobbins and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah.
It remains to be seen if this group makes a significant impact in Year One, but the opportunity is certainly there along the offensive and defensive lines.