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.
Graphic design has become an integral part of the recruiting process in recent years, as programs continue to look for ways to gain an advantage — any advantage — in a prospect's recruitment. And, admit it, nothing would be cooler than to check your direct messages right now to find an edit of yourself in an Ohio State uniform.
Yeah, that's what I though.
Though I personally dabble a bit in graphic design, I'm constantly left in awe of what the Buckeyes' graphic team does on a daily basis. And just when I think it can't get any better, they send out the following edit to Nashville Davidson Academy four-star defensive end Ani Izuchukwu on Wednesday evening.
— King Ani: Alpha Male (@izuchukwuani12) February 14, 2018
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Izuchukwu is considered the 12th-best weak-side defensive end and No. 217 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 23 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in only six games for the Bears last season. He missed the first six games with a broken ankle, but returned to help the program to the second round of the state playoffs.
Izuchukwu narrowed down his list of more than a dozen offers last fall to Alabama, Ohio State and South Carolina. He attended Friday Night Lights last summer and then returned to campus in October for the 62-14 win over Maryland, and continues to build a strong bond with head coach Urban Meyer, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and running backs coach and area recruiter Tony Alford.
“They reach out to me at least once or twice a week,” Izuchukwu told Eleven Warriors. “The campus looks good, the stadium and facility look great and their culture [really stands out].”
The Crimson Tide are considered the favorite to land Izuchukwu's pledge at this point in time, but I think the Buckeyes have a chance to make a big move in his recruitment when he returns for an official visit in the spring or fall — as evidenced by my predictions this morning.
ALREADY CAMP SEASON?
We were barely four days removed from National Signing Day when hundreds of the nation's top prospects descended upon Miami for Rivals' Three Stripe Camp Series. And among the top performers at Sunday's event was Hollywood, Florida, Chaminade-Madonna four-star wide receiver John Dunmore, who picked up an offer from Ohio State last week.
— Jdsunn__ (@JohnDunmore2) February 6, 2018
“I don't know much about the history of the program, but growing up here in Florida, I do know a lot about coach Urban Meyer's time as the Gators' coach,” Dunmore told Eleven Warriors, adding he's excited to learn more about the football program and university moving forward.
The 6-foot-2, 172-pound Dunmore is considered the 27th-best wide receiver and No. 152 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 26 receptions for 272 yards and six touchdowns for Delray Beach American Heritage last season — which is not to be confused with nationally ranked Fort Lauderdale American Heritage. He transferred to Chaminade-Madonna over winter break.
Dunmore committed to Florida in April over offers from Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, Tennessee, UCF and USF, but backed off that pledge last month. He's the eighth prospect in his class to decommit from the Gators since they fired former head coach Jim McElwain.
As with most prospects in South Florida, wide receivers coach and area recruiter Zach Smith is leading the charge in Dunmore's recruitment. The two talk regularly, and he hopes to take an official visit this spring or fall.
“He's a great coach,” Dunmore said of Smith.
Dunmore was named the event's most valuable wide receiver and earned an inviation to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, which will take place in June in a yet-to-be-determined city. He'll be joined there by Florida State five-star cornerback commit Akeem Dent and Florida four-star cornerback Kaiir Elam, who also hold an offer from the Buckeyes.
TRYING TO GET THE PIPELINE FLOWING AGAIN
Ohio State's history at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas dates back to 1991, when the Buckeyes signed punter Mike Crissy. Former safety Nate Salley and wide receiver Duron Carter played for the Raiders, too.
But the powerhouse high school program wasn't viewed as a pipeline to Columbus until Meyer signed defensive end Joey Bosa in his first full recruiting class. The floodgates opened from there, and cornerback Damon Arnette, defensive end Nick Bosa and wide receiver Trevon Grimes would all soon follow.
With Miami's return to national prominence and a new excitement around Florida and Florida State following their recent coaching hires, though, it's going to be more difficult than ever for Ohio State to land players from that region. Suprisingly, though, none of the three in-state schools are among the favorites to land St. Thomas Aquinas sophomore linebacker Derek Wingo.
“Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State are my Top 3 schools,” Wingo told Rivals' Chad Simmons when asked about his early favorites.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Wingo is not yet ranked by any major recruiting sites because he played quarterback for the Raiders last 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, as well as five tackles in very limited duty on defense.
When the Buckeyes offered Wingo last month, he told Eleven Warriors it was a dream come true. And though it has been several years since he was last on campus, the coaching staff's ability to develop players and the program's winning ways remain attractive from afar.
“Ohio State is a program with so much stability and I like that,” Wingo said. “Seeing how they just put their players into the NFL really stands out to me too. They take high schools guys to the next level and coach them, train them and make them so much better.”
Being an underclassmen, Wingo hasn't had much contact with the staff. He plans to return for to Columbus for a one-day camp in June or Friday Night Lights in July, though, and that'll be a great chance for the Buckeyes to solidify their standing in his recruitment.