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.
Dayton Dunbar three-star running back Tavion Thomas decommitted from Oklahoma this morning, a decision which comes on the heels of a meeting with Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and running backs coach Tony Alford on Sunday afternoon.
Hardest decision ever . pic.twitter.com/UsOi3cRTI5
— lackofworries (@tavionthomas937) January 29, 2018
As first reported by 247Sports' Bill Kurelic and since confirmed by Eleven Warriors, the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Thomas — who is considered the 17th-best running back and No. 406 prospect overall in the Class of 2018 — will take an official visit to Columbus this weekend that will begin following the Wolverines' basketball game Saturday night.. And with that, I have placed my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction in favor of the Buckeyes.
A lot of what happens from here depends on whether or not Thomas has overcome some academic hurdles that plagued his recruitment early in the process and forced Ohio State to move in another direction last spring. You may recall, the Buckeyes offered him a scholarship in February in the midst of a five-day string of offers from programs such as Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Nebraska, but nothing progressed as his grades remained a significant concern.
Ohio State — which already held a commitment from Florida four-star Brian Snead at the time of Thomas' offer — instead focused its efforts on landing Westerville South four-star Jaelen Gill and Tennessee four-star Master Teague III.
Thomas pledged his services to Oklahoma in June and remainined committed to the program through the Early Signing Period. However, he did not fax in his National Letter of Intent last month as both he and the Sooners' staff hoped he'd clear up the aforementioned academic issues — or show significant progress toward doing so — before signing with the program in February.
Ohio State starting running back Mike Weber recently announced he was returning for another season, while freshman phenom J.K. Dobbinsand third string Antonio Williams have at least two years of eligibility remaining. Throw in Gill, Snead and Teague, and it's completely understandable if you're questioning the Buckeyes' need for another running back this cycle.
Alford was also in Dayton on Monday, at which time he met with faculty to further assess Thomas' academic standing. If the staff believes he has everything in order, he — and Cincinnati Winton Woods four-star linebacker Christopher Oats, for that matter — helps Meyer address the lack of in-state prospects in Ohio State's recruiting class. Thomas also brings to the table a completely different set of skills from any of the running backs mentioned above.
If he ultimately does commit and signs with the Buckeyes next month, Thomas will have until the summer to be cleared by the NCAA. If he's unable to do so, a year at the junior college level is likely. It wouldn't be an unprecended move, either, as you may recall former quarterback Cardale Jones signed with the program in February 2011, but spent a semester at Fork Union Military Academy before joining the team the following season.
HEAR IT FROM THE MAN HIMSELF
As expected, Ohio State landed a commitment on Sunday night from San Marcos, California, Mission Hills four-star wide receiver Chris Olave. Shortly after he picked the Buckeyes over UCLA, USC and Utah, he spoke with Rivals' Marc Givler about his decision.
— Marc Givler (@MarcGivlerBG) January 29, 2018
“Ohio State felt like home when I was out there,” Olave said, referring to his official visit back in November. “[It] feels like the best opportunity I can give myself. I loved Ohio State ever since my visit. The coaches have been recruiting me hard consistently since they offered me. They really wanted me. They were even calling my brothers and my parents these past couple weeks.”
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Olave becomes the 24th member of Ohio State's Supreme '18 recruiting class, and joins fellow four-stars Kamryn Babb, L'Christian “Blue” Smith and Cameron Brown at the wide receiver position. As I mentioned in his impact article last night, the competition that will follow doesn't faze him in the slightest.
“Chris doesn't care who sits in that room with him,” Mission Hills head coach Chris Hauser told Eleven Warriors. “He doesn't care that it's a bunch of dudes coming in from some of the best high schools in America. He thinks he's as good or better than those guys. He's ready for that.”
THE LONGHORNS ARE MISSING OUT
College coaches seemingly never take a day off from recruiting — unless it’s mandated by the NCAA — and will quickly shift focus next week from putting their finishing touches on the current class to their top priorities the next cycle.
With that, the nation’s top underclassmen have started to trim down their never-ending lists of scholarship offers, with Allen, Texas, five-star wide receiver Theo Wease Jr. among them. On Monday afternoon, his listed Ohio State in his Top 7 alongside LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, TCU, UCLA and USC.
Top 7....... pic.twitter.com/CPW9OOekmb
— Theo Wease Jr (@_TheoWeaseJr) January 29, 2018
“That great tradition of winning, and, of course, coach Meyer,” Wease told Eleven Warriors when asked what stands out about the program from afar shortly after the Buckeyes offered him a scholarship last May.
The 6-foot-3, 194-pound Wease is considered the sixth-best wide receiver and No. 28 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he caught 53 passes for 852 yards and 14 touchdowns to help the Eagles to their fifth state title last season. He’s never been to campus, but plans to take an official visit with teammate and four-star quarterback target Grant Tisdale this spring.
Tisdale and Wease — a one-time Sooners commit — regularly talk about playing together in college. If Ohio State makes both of them a priority, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.
NEXT IN-STATE OFFER?
“It's an honor to have coach Meyer and the rest of these coaches come in,” Newberg told Eleven Warriors. “I've worked very hard on the field and in the weight room to myself in this position and it's beginning to pay off.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Newburg is considered the 47th-best weak-side defensive end and No. 788 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 58 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery to lead the Thunderbolts to the state playoffs last season. He holds offers from Ball State, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Toledo, but the Buckeyes are beginning to show a strong interest and I wouldn't be surprised to see them follow suit sooner rather than later.
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith has been in contact with Newburg for a few weeks now, which promted Meyer's visit on Friday. NCAA rules are rather restrictive for underclassment in terms of contact, though, so the two were only able to exhange greetings.
“[I ] just bumped into him,” Newburg said. “He was very impressed with my size.”
Newburg's father, Scott, was a three-year letter winner at Ball State. His uncle, Craig, also played in Muncie, so the Cardinals are certainly the early favorite in his recruitment. If Ohio State offers, though, all bets are off. He plans to attend one of the Buckeyes' practices this spring — which, if you can believe it, is right around the corner.
YOU COULD CALL IT A DREAM OFFER
Akron Archbishop Hoban outside linebacker DeaMonte Trayanum on Monday became the second in-state prospect from the Class of 2020 to land an offer from Ohio State, joining Cincinnati St. Xavier four-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr.
Im grateful and blessed to say that I have received an offer from The Ohio State University!! pic.twitter.com/I8z6dQvLfx
— DeaMonte Trayanum (@Chipperrz_) January 29, 2018
The 6-foot-, 205-pound Trayanum is not yet ranked by any major recruiting sites, but showed this season why he'll be among the nation's top-ranked prospects by the time he's a senior, as he recorded more than 120 tackles, 20 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks, five pass breakups, one interception and one forced fumbles to help the Knights to their third-consecutive state title last season. He also rushed for 850 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first year as a part-time running back.
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was at Hoban this afternoon, at which time he extended the offer to Trayanum. And then shortly afterward, he picked up his second offer from Notre Dame.
Trayanum plans to attend one of Ohio State's practices this spring, and while it's still early in the process for the junior-to-be, it's difficult to imagine him playing for anyone other than the Buckeyes – and the flood of crystal ball predictions that have followed the offer would tend to agree.