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 HOME STRETCH
With the recruiting dead period coming to a close on Friday, Ohio State wasted no time in seeing some of its top remaining targets. In fact, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano were on a plane to Tampa that morning to see Berkeley Prep five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere.
The 6-foot-6, 272-pound Petit-Frere is considered the third-best offensive tackle and No. 17 prospect overall, and holds offers from more than two dozen programs such as Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Notre Dame. With the Buckeyes' need at the offensive tackle position, though, he and Maryland four-star Rasheed Walker are among the staff's top priorities as we head toward the traditional National Signing Day next month.
Petit-Frere visited campus for the first an only time over the summer, but put his recruitment on the backburner for most of his senior season. He took official visits to South Bend and Ann Arbor in the fall, and has trips to Tuscaloosa, Gainesville and Columbus lined up for the next three weekends.
The Feb. 2 official visit means Ohio State has the final shot to sway Petit-Frere's decision, and the Buckeyes should know where they stand with Walker by that time as well, seeing as his official is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 20. It'll be interesting to see if the the lack of depth and Schiano's ties to Berkeley Prep — where is sons went to school — will be enough to overcome his perceived desire to stay close to home.
A MATTER OF WHEN, NOT IF
Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson, meanwhile, headed to New Jersey to meet with four-star defensive end Tyler Friday.
The 6-foot-3, 263-pound Friday was widely expected to make a decision by the end of the week, but sources told Eleven Warriors early that morning he will likely hold off until closer to National Signing Day. All signs still point toward the Buckeyes being his ultimate destination, but Alabama and Michigan also stopped by Don Bosco Prep this weekend and continue to push for his pledge in the coming weeks.
Again, I placed my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Ohio State last week, and that's where it will remain through Feb. 7 — or until a final decision is announced.
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.
RESTOCKING THE CUPBOARD
With Mike Weber, J.K. Dobbins, Antonio Williams and Demario McCall returning and Jaelen Gill, Brian Snead and Master Teague III incoming, you may be hard-pressed to find a deeper running back room than Ohio State's. And while other programs will certainly use that as ammo against the Buckeyes on the recruiting trail, it won't stop the staff from going after the country's best to fill their shoes in the years to come.
For example, the Buckeyes have identified Bradenton, Florida, IMG Academy four-star running back Noah Cain as one of their top targets in the next recruiting cycle. And on Saturday evening, they offered a scholarship to his teammate, five-star running back Trey Sanders.
— Trey sanders (@6sixGod_) January 14, 2018
The 5-foot-11, 216-pound Sanders is considered the top-rated running back and No. 10 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he racked up 849 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns to help the Ascenders to their third-consecutive undefeated season last year. He also holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Sanders actually committed to the Crimson Tide in Spring 2016, but backed off his pledge on New Year's Day. The program still remains his top school at this time, but he wanted the opportunity to visit other programs and enjoy the recruiting process before making a final decision on his future.
Originally from Port St. Joe, Florida, Sanders transferred to IMG ahead of his sophomore season. He's been playing at the varsity level since seventh grade.
HIT THE GROUND RUNNING
Ohio State's Alex Grinch still doesn't have an official title, but has wasted no time in getting acquainted with top prospects on behalf of the Buckeyes. On Saturday, he offered a scholarship to Waxahachie, Texas, four-star safety Demani Richardson.
— Demani Richardson (@therealdemani) January 13, 2018
“It really lets me know that I am capable of playing at a top school,” Richardson told Eleven Warriors. “And it's Ohio State. [Of course] it's going to stand out.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Richardson is considered the fifth-best safety and No. 105 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 18 tackles, three interceptions, three pass break ups, two tackles for a loss, one quarterback hurry and one fumble recovery for the Indians last season. He also holds offers from Baylor, Georgia, Missouri, TCU and Texas.
Richardson has never been to campus, but will likely take an official visit to Columbus this spring or fall.
When USC quarterback commit J.T. Daniels announced his intentions to graduate early and reclassify to the Class of 2018, I wondered aloud if it would start a trend among top high school athletes. After all, if an elite prospect is physically ready compete at the next level and has met all of the academic requirements, why would he risk getting injured during his senior year?
Ohio State, in particular, has seen players like Dobbins (fractured fibula), Nick Bosa, Trevon Grimes and Kamryn Babb (torn ACLs) suffer senior season-ending injuries. If given the chance, would they forgo their final year of high school to jump start their respective collegiate careers?
All that said, one of the Buckeyes' top targets has opted to accelerate the process, as Virginia Beach Bishop Sullivan four-star cornerback Sheridan Jones announced on Thursday night he's reclassified to be a member of the 2019 recruiting class.
— SHERIDAN JONES (@SJones3_) January 11, 2018
“Reclassifying was the best decision for me because I have a minimal number of classes left to satisfy graduation requirements,” Jones told Eleven Warriors. “My grades are strong, and I'm looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”
The 6-foot, 165-pound Jones is now considered the seventh-best cornerback and No. 141 prospect in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 26 tackles, 10 pass break ups, two interceptions, one defensive touchdown, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery last season. He also added 15 receptions for 203 yards and two touchdowns for the Crusaders, who finished as the top-ranked team in Virginia thanks to their national schedule.
Jones, who also holds more than a dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Penn State and Virginia Tech, plans to narrow down his list in the late spring or early summer. The Buckeyes will certainly make the cut.
“The defensive backs that they have produced and the way they play [stands out],” Jones said.
Jones is the former teammate of Ohio State linebacker signee Teradja Mitchell. He's never been to campus, but will make his first trip soon.
“Next time Teradja comes, I'm with him,” Jones said.