The Hurry Up: Ohio State Visits Defensive End Target Javontae Jean-Baptiste While Dublin Jerome Athlete Robert Cope Accepts Walk-On Offer

By Andrew Lind on January 17, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Robert Cope

Robert Cope, via ThisWeek Community News

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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.

BOOMING WEEK AGEAD?

Though he’s set to take an official visit this weekend, Ohio State defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano conducted an in-home visit with New Jersey four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste on Tuesday night. 

The news was first reported by Land of 10’s Ryan Donnelly and since confirmed by Eleven Warriors

The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Jean-Baptiste is considered the 21st-best outside linebacker and No. 313 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, but most schools are recruiting him as a hybrid end. He recorded 88 tackles, 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery at state power Bergen Catholic and holds nearly two dozen offers from programs such as Boston College, Connecticut, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. 

The Hokies were considered the favorite in Jean-Baptiste’s recruitment until an offer from the Buckeyes altered his recruitment entirely. He doesn’t have any visits scheduled beyond this weekend, and there’s a feeling within the program that a single trip to Columbus will seal the deal.

Texas A&M and Wisconsin continue to lobby for Jean-Baptiste to take an official visit over the final two weekends of the recruiting cycle, while Nebraska is now perceived to be the biggest threat to Ohio State following his official visit to Lincoln last weekend. Defensive line coach Mike Dawson was also at Bergen yesterday, while new head coach Scott Frost hopes an in-home visit next week would swing the tide back in favor of the Cornhuskers. 

Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer is also set to conduct an in-home visit sometime next week, but if all goes well this weekend, it may not be needed.

MR. ROGERS’ NEW NEIGHBORHOOD

Though he had considerable interest in Ohio State and hoped to land a late offer, Connecticut three-star defensive end Casey Rogers committed to Nebraska following an official visit last weekend.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Rogers is considered the 67th-best defensive end and No. 1,333 prospect overall in the Class of 2018, though he actually graduated high school last spring. He was a very talented lacrosse player and was committed to play for his father — an assistant coach — at Syracuse, but decided he wanted to play football in college and a post-graduate year at Avon Old Farms this fall.

The move paid off, as Rogers turned a single offer from Western Michigan into serious interest from programs like Alabama, California, Indiana, Ole Miss, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and Virginia, among a handful of others. Neither the Buckeyes nor Crimson Tide offered him a scholarship, but he did take official visits to Columbus and Tuscaloosa last month. 

Rogers told Eleven Warriors this fall that his favorite player is former Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard, who also played lacrosse in high school and turned down a scholarship to Notre Dame before choosing to play football for the Buckeyes. 

The staff was also very intrigued by Rogers’ potential, especially given the need at defensive end. But with looming commitments from New Jersey four-star Tyler Friday and the aforementioned Jean-Baptiste, there was simply no room left.

TALENT VS. NEED?

Ohio State wide receivers coach and area recruiter Zach Smith, meanwhile, was in Florida on Tuesday to meet with and watch three-star wide receiver Antoine Green, who helped Rockledge to an 81-51 win at Palm Bay.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Green — who is considered the 67th-best receiver and No. 385 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 —is pretty much sitting in the same spot right now as California four-star wide receiver Chris Olave, who I mentioned in last night’s edition of The Hurry Up following an in-home visit from quarterbacks coach and area recruiter Ryan Day. 

Olave, you may recall, garnered serious interest from the Buckeyes in the fall, but commitments in December from St. Louis four-star wide receivers Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown seemingly ended all hope of him ending up in Columbus. That said, Day wouldn’t make the trip if Ohio State wasn’t still recruiting the underrated wideout.

Spots remain limited in the Buckeyes’ recruiting class, and with the program’s top six receivers from last year all returning next fall, there isn’t a need at the position. However, if Ohio State would have room close to National Signing Day, it’s clear the interest remains mutual. 

While Olave is currently trending toward staying close to home at a program like Oregon State, UCLA or Utah, Green is set to take an official visit to Ohio State this weekend. The one-time Florida State commit also has trips to Ole Miss and Tennessee on the docket and plans to make a decision on his future on the traditional Feb. 7 National Signing Day.

SHOPPING LOCAL

Dublin Jerome athlete Robert Cope announced on Thursday evening he will attend Ohio State next fall as a preferred walk-on.

“Being a Buckeye has been a dream of mine since I was 4 years old,” Cope told Eleven Warriors. “I grew up going to games and tailgating outside of the ‘Shoe every Saturday. My entire family consists of die-hard Buckeye fans throughout the State, so this is home to me. Getting a chance to be a part of the Ohio State football program is truly a dream come true.”

The 5-foot-10, 188-pound Cope rushed for 738 yards and four touchdowns for the Celtics last season. He picked the walk-on opportunity with the Buckeyes over scholarship offers from Findlay and Saginaw Valley State. 

“When Ohio State became a possibility, it really became the only school I focused on,” Cope said. 

Running backs coach Tony Alford’s son, Rylan, also plays for Jerome, so he was on hand for a number of the Celtics’ games this fall. 

“I received a call from him a little after midway through the season and he said he liked the way I played and asked if I was interested in being a preferred walk-on,” Cope said. “Obviously I was ecstatic about the opportunity, so we started the process of applying to school and all that. What I think stood out to him was the attitude I play with, regardless of the situation. I run hard and with a chip on my shoulder.” 

Cope becomes the seventh senior to accept a preferred walk-on offer, and that includes his teammate in linebacker Cade Kacherski, Big Walnut linebacker Abe Myers, Piqua linebacker Ben Schmiesing, Berlin Center Western Reserve linebacker Jack Cappabianca, Mason defensive tackle Zaid Hamdan and Arizona wide receiver Luke Donovan. 

“I’m very excited to have Cade as a teammate again,” Cope said. “He is one of my good friends.”

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