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.
Offensive tackle and defensive end were among the most glaring omissions when Ohio State inked 21 signatures during college football's first Early Signing Period last month.
However, it appears the latter position is shaping up to be among the most talented groups in the Buckeyes' second-ranked recruiting class with Cleveland Heights four-star Tyreke Smith now in the fold and New Jersey four-star Tyler Friday on the verge of announcing his college intentions, as well.
— BrianDohn247 (@BrianDohn247) January 10, 2018
“It should be this week,” Friday's father, Sam, told 247Sports' Brian Dohn. “He has a video he is going to release. He will sign in February.”
The 6-foot-3, 263-pound Friday is considered the third-best defensive tackle and No. 85 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, but the Buckeyes plan to move him to defensive end at the next level given the need at the position and the stockpile of talent along the interior with Taron Vincent, Antwuan Jackson Jr. and Tommy Togiai already signed.
With all that said, I placed my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Ohio State this morning. He's long been linked to Michigan, but the opportunity to learn from defensive line coach Larry Johnson and his relationship with defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has paid dividends for the Buckeyes as of late.
Following his official visit in November, I briefly picked Ohio State as Friday's ultimate destination. But when things shifted back in the Buckeyes' favor for the aforementioned Smith and four-star Jayson Oweh, I admittedly jumped back to Michigan.
Both Smith and Oweh were higher on the priority chart, and the program was in wait-and-see mode with Friday they got things sorted out. With the latter choosing Penn State during the Under Armour All-America Game last week, Ohio State has gone all out in its pursuit of Friday since.
Meanwhile, this will be a devastating miss for the Wolverines, as head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff believed their connections in New Jersey had Friday's recruitment wrapped up a long time ago.
THE BEST TO EVER DO IT?
With starter Marcus Baugh having exhausted his eligibility, Kierre Hawkins’ transfer to Youngstown State and A.J. Alexander’s career coming to a close due to a medical hardship, five-star tight end signee Jeremy Ruckert sees an opportunity to contribute as a freshman at Ohio State.
“I'm looking forward to just understanding the playbook and just trying to take a step ahead to give myself a chance to play early,” Ruckert told Eleven Warriors during U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices last week. “I don't think it's a question that's what I'm here for.”
Head coach Urban Meyer called the 6-foot-6, 238-pound Ruckert the best tight end prospect he’s ever seen, and that includes John Mackey Award winner Aaron Hernandez. Despite his off-field troubles, he caught 111 passes for 1,382 and 12 touchdowns in three seasons under Meyer at Florida.
Ruckert hopes to have an even greater impact within the Buckeyes’ offense, though.
“I'm want to be the best tight end in Ohio State history,” he said. “I know I'm capable of doing it. There are some great names that have done great things there. If you're not working to be the best, you're not going to do the best you can on the field.”
Ruckert finished his senior season with 1,094 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns and led Lindenhurst to the Long Island Championship. He also added 61 tackles, 13 sacks and two interceptions on defense for the Bulldogs, but still sees room for improvement.
“I need to get bigger and work on my blocking,” Ruckert said. “I've really gotten to take advantage of the practice and all the experience of going against the best linebackers and defensive ends in the country and try to match their physicality. Coming out of high school, it was no secret I was playing out wide the whole time. Now I'm really getting the feel of being attached to the ball and getting in the mix in the front seven. I think I'm doing really well, but that's what I need to work on.
“It's really just technique and I feel like it's easier to teach someone how to block that it is to team them how to catch and run routes,” he continued. “I think I'm in good hands going forward. Coach Mick[ey Marotti] is the best in the country. I'll learn a lot from coach [Kevin] Wilson and coach [Greg] Stud[rawa], too. I'm excited.”
Ruckert will graduate from Lindenhurst in the spring and enroll in classes in Columbus in June. He’ll first conclude his high school career in the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 20 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“I'm going to take a trip out there, learn about the Polynesian culture and play against the best out there, too,” Ruckert said.
SHIFTING FOCUS TO NEXT YEAR
Ohio State offered a scholarship on Wednesday afternoon to Scottsdale, Arizona, Notre Dame Prep four-star wide receiver Jake Smith.
— Jake Smith (@jakesmith27) January 10, 2018
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Smith is considered the 40th-best wide receiver and No. 229 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he compiled more nearly 2,538 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns to help the Saints reach the state finals last season. He holds more than 20 offers from programs such as Alabama, Arizona State, Northwestern, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Utah and Vanderbilt.
Smith has never been to campus, but is certainly a candidate to do so when junior prospects can begin taking official visits in April. It's unclear where he fits into the staff's plans at this point in time, though, with names such as Trey Knox, Ja'shawn Sheffield, Theo Wease, Lance Wilhoite and Garrett Wilson all heavily interested in the Buckeyes, as well.