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 BALANCING ACT
With Ohio State's national recruiting approach under head coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes have landed fewer in-state prospects with each recruiting cycle. What was once 16 Ohioans signing up to play for their beloved Buckeyes in 2012 has dipped to only five — so far — in the Class of 2018.
“It is a problem,” Meyer said during his Early Signing Period press conference last month.
Ohio State's brand and knack for sending players to the National Football League at nearly every position on the field has become attractive to the best recruits in the country. The Buckeyes pieced together their second-ranked recruiting class with prospects from 11 different states, including their first-ever signees from Idaho and Oklahoma.
At the same time, the level of talent locally has dipped in recent years. And while Meyer and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni want to address the lack of in-state flavor in Ohio State's recruiting classes, taking lower-ranked prospects for the sake of filling the roster with homegrown talent isn't going to help the Buckeyes compete for national championships year-in and year-out.
It's a difficult thing to balance.
“So what's the solution,” Meyer asked the room full of reporters. “Do the very best we can.”
Well, it'll certainly help that next year's recruiting class is among the most talented in years. In fact, the following Ohioans already hold offers from Ohio State:
- Olentangy Orange five-star defensive end Zach Harrison
- Cincinnati Walnut Hills four-star defensive tackle Jowon Briggs
- Lexington four-star linebacker Cade Stover
- Mentor four-star defensive end Noah Potter
- Cincinnati Anderson four-star offensive guard Zeke Correll
- Mentor four-star offensive tackle Ryan Jacoby
Others, like Sidney four-star athlete Andre Gordon, Columbus St. Francis De Sales four-star defensive tackle Rodas Johnson, Reynoldsburg four-star athlete Mershawn Rice, Springfield four-star cornerback Moses Douglass, Massillon Washington four-star linebacker Jamir Thomas, Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller three-star offensive guard Zach Carpenter, Pickerington Central three-star defensive tackle DeWayne Carter Jr., Westerville Central three-star wide receiver Cameron Phillips, Columbus Northland three-star running back John Branham Jr., Springfield three-star defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney three-star linebacker Luke Fulton and Reynoldsburg three-star linebacker Dezman Cooper have been to campus numerous times and could land an offer with a stellar senior campaign or more familiarity with that staff.
Of course, it's impossible for every one of them to play their college ball in Columbus. But the amount of local talent in the Class of 2019 is absurd, and should go a long way in the staff reaching their Buckeye State quota.
WAS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
The aforementioned Ryan Jacoby became the latest in-state prospect to receive an offer from Ohio State on Friday morning.
— Ryan Jacoby (@Ryan_Jacoby) January 12, 2018
“This offer means a lot,” Jacoby told Eleven Warriors. “It's the team I grew up watching and rooting for.”
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Jacoby — who considered the 30th-best offensive tackle and No. 244 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — anchored a Cardinals offense that averaged more than 40 points per game on their way to the Division I state championship game last season. He was named a first-team all-Ohio selection as a result, while his teammate and defensive end target Noah Potter picked up second-team honors.
Jacoby holds offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Iowa State, Oregon, Toledo and West Virginia, but he he's been to campus several times over the last year and has a strong relationship with the Buckeyes' staff, particularly offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
“I talk with them a lot,” Jacoby said. “They are all great coaches.”
Naturally, an offer to an elite in-state prospect like Jacoby immediately puts him on commitment watch. He's going to take his time, though, and hopes to make a decision on his future by the summer.
“I am waiting to continue to talk with people who are close to me, and I'm not positive what I want to study yet,” Jacoby said.
As mentioned, Ohio State landed its first-ever scholarship recruit from the state of Idaho this cycle when four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai picked the Buckeyes over heavily favored Washington last month. The same goes for Oklahoma, when four-star safety Josh Proctor spurned the home-state Sooners.
In that same vein, Ohio State is still looking for its first commitment in Rhode Island, which the staff hopes to change with Friday morning's offer to Warwick Bishop Hendricken four-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss.
Truly Blessed and grateful to receive an offer from Ohio State University Go Buckeyes! pic.twitter.com/WjwITmwz9F
— Xavier Truss (@xtruss94) January 12, 2018
“It definitely means a lot, man,” Truss told Eleven Warriors.
The 6-foot-7, 325-pound Truss is considered the 35th-best offensive tackle and No. 288 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, but has seen his stock skyrocket in the last week after a stellar showing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl National Combine in San Antonio. Since then, he's picked up offers from Maryland, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers and Oregon.
“This week has been hectic,” Truss said. “The Ohio State offer tops the three Big Ten power house offers. It's really crazy.”
Truss has never been to campus, but is looking forward to taking an official visit this spring or fall.
“I definitely can't wait to get a closer relationship with the staff and keep in touch with them,” he said.
For what it's worth, the Buckeyes have never picked up a scholarship player from Alaska, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont or Wyoming, either.
THE RIGHT THING TO DO
Though he's one of nine Ohio State signees to enroll in classes this week, the above-mentioned Togiai received a waiver from the NCAA today to play in the Polynesian Bowl next weekend.
— Justin Kume (@jpkume) January 12, 2018
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Togiai will be joined in Hawaii by five-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert, four-star running back Brian Snead and four-star wide receiver L'Christian “Blue” Smith, all of whom will begin classes in June. Alabama's national championship-winning quarterback and native islander Tua Tagovailoa was in a similar situation last year, but was not granted a waiver and watched the game from the sidelines.
Togiai — whose father, Talalelei, played professional rugby in Samoa — comes from a long line of Polynesian ancestory. Only 75 percent of the game's participants will have such distinction.
The Polynesian Bowl will be broadcast live on ESPN3 Jan. 20 at 11 p.m. EST.