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.
OHIO STATE VERSUS THE SEC
Ohio State didn't have the greatest luck recruiting the state of Georgia this year, as one-time commits Brenton Cox and Emory Jones ultimately ended up staying much closer to home — though certainly under different circumstances. That, plus the re-emergence of the national runner-up Bulldogs, won't stop the Buckeyes from going back to the Peach State into the future, though.
In fact, Ohio State remains on the mind of prospects like Powder Springs Hillgrove four-star safety Jaylen McCollough, who included the Buckeyes in his Top 7 alongside Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina on Friday night.
No Negativity. Have a Blessed Day pic.twitter.com/f8bHdKMkuV
— Jaylen McCollough (@Jay_Mccollough2) January 20, 2018
“I went up for the Penn State game and I just fell in love with Ohio State,” McCollough told Eleven Warriors. “The coaching staff recruits me very hard. I get a text or call from a least one staff member daily. And the tradition is great.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound McCollough is considered the fourth-best safety and No. 59 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as recorded 85 tackles, six pass break ups, three interceptions and three sacks for the Hawks to garner second-team all-state honors. He also rushed for 750 yards and seven touchdowns on offense.
As mentioned, McCollough — who picked up an offer from Ohio State last May — attended the Buckeyes' 39-38 win over Penn State in late October. He's maintained contact ever since with head coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs, all of whom text or call him almost daily.
“[They're] wanting me to get back. They also check up on me outside of football,” McCollough said. “[They're] always making sure I stay on top of my grades and making sure my family and I are [doing] well.”
McCollough plans to return to campus again this spring. It's unclear at this time whether it'll be an official visit, but Ohio State will certainly get one of his five before he makes a decision on his future this fall.
“The school has to feel like a second home, really,” McCollough said. “I have to be comfortable with the school and the coaches and of course playing time. I will be an early enrollee so I will be trying to start my freshman year.”
A NEW FLOW IN THE AQUINAS PIPELINE?
Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith and the aforementioned Coombs were in Florida late last week, at which time they stopped by Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas an extended scholarship offers to sophomore athlete Derek Wingo and wide receiver Jahvante Royal.
— W1NG0 (@DerekWingo) January 18, 2018
— Jahvante Royal (@D1_vante) January 18, 2018
“Honestly, it's like a dream come true,” Wingo told Eleven Warriors. “A school like that has always been one of my top schools to go to, and hopefully in the future I can gain a connection with the coaches.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Wingo is not yet ranked by any major recruiting sites because he played quarterback for the Raiders this season, but projects to be an outside linebacker at the next level. He finished the year with 806 yards and seven touchdowns passing and 74 yards and another score on the ground, and recorded five tackles in very limited duty on defense.
Wingo, who holds double-digit offers from programs such as Cincinnati, Florida, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Texas, wasn't able to speak with Smith or Coombs thanks to NCAA rules regarding contact with underclassmen. But his coach relayed the message that the Buckeyes are very interested, nonetheless.
“They were very welcoming and wanted to know as much as they could about me and build a relationship,” Wingo said.
Wingo made his first and only trip to campus when he was in seventh grade, but hopes to return this summer to participate in a one-day camp or Friday Night Lights.
“It was mainly just an eye-opening [experience] on what I have to work on so that I can be able to accomplish my goals of going to a school like that,” he said.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Royal, meanwhile, transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas earlier this week from after a 1-9 season at McArthur. He holds offers from Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Florida, Louisville, N.C. State, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.
JUST GIVE HIM THE CHANCE
Assistant director of player personnel Eron Hodges may have the most difficult job of anyone on the Ohio State staff, as he's tasked with finding a handful of underrated or unheralded prospects who are worthy of a preferred walk-on offer from the Buckeyes.
So far, he's landed commitments from seven prospects, including Dublin Jerome athlete Robert Cope and 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. And late last week, he extended another walk-on offer to Lyndhurst Brush defensive back Lloyd McFarquhar.
Honored and Beyond Blessed to receive an Preferred Walk-on offer from The Ohio State pic.twitter.com/nntm0ouJqb
— Lloyd McFarquhar (@_11savage) January 17, 2018
“It means a lot because, just last week, I only had one football offer to a small Division II school down the street from me [Notre Dame College],” McFarquhar told Eleven Warriors. “To receive a preferred walk-on offer from The Ohio State University is beyond great because for them to see my film and see something special in me makes me so grateful for the opportunity they are giving me.”
The 5-foot-9, 160-pound McFarquhar finished his senior season with the Arcs with 17 tackles, 12 pass break ups and four interceptions. He was named the Western Reserve Conference scholar athlete this season, as well.
McFarquhar was visiting another school when he received a call from Hodges last week.
“When I called back, he told me who he was and how they love my film,” McFarquhar said. “When he offered me the preferred walk-on [spot], I was shocked with excitement.”
McFarquhar, who actually recently applied to be a regular student at Ohio State, will visit campus this Tuesday. He's hoping to hear back from admissions before making a decision on his future, though.
“If the academic and financial package is good, I will definitely take them up on the offer,” McFarquhar said.
Though the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and Under Armour All-America Game get all the attention as the nation's premier high school all-star games, the Polynesian Bowl has quickly emerged as a popular destination for top recruits.
It is, after all, an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii...
Ohio State was well-represented in this weekend's game, as five-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert and four-star wide receiver L'Christian “Blue” Smith helped Team Makai knock of Team Mauka, 31-14.
Smith caught a touchdown pass from uncommitted quarterback Tanner McKee to put Makai up 10-0 in the second quarter, a play in which he shook off a tackle at the line of scrimmage from Oregon safety signee Jevon Holland and scrambled 19 yards for the score. He finished the game with two catches for 24 yards and one touchdown.
Ruckert, meanwhile, hauled in a game-high four catches for 57 yards. He was widely regarded as the game's top offensive performer, though McKee won the Most Valuable Player award — that looked like Maui's magical fish hook in the great Disney movie Moana.
— The Nation. (@SportsRecruits) January 21, 2018
Ohio State four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai and four-star running back Brian Snead also played well in a losing effort. Togiai finished the game with four tackles, while Snead added a fourth-quarter touchdown for Mauka.