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.
AT A CROSSROAD
Ohio State's search for its next quarterback will certainly be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow this recruiting cycle.
The staff has already extended offers to some of the nation's top signal callers, but have yet to go all-in on any one in particular. The biggest reason for that, it seems, would be a change in philosophy under offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day toward pocket passers with — what I like to call — functional mobility rather than someone who is constantly asked to run the ball by design.
However, it's hard to argue with the success dual-threat quarterbacks like Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett had during their time in Columbus. And a simple glance at the Buckeyes' re-written record book would show there's nothing wrong with the current formula, even if the staff was oftentimes overreliant on their ability to move the offense with their legs.
Such uncertainly on how to move forward is why I fully expect the Buckeyes to bring on two quarterbacks this cycle, one dual-threat and the other pro-style. And if that holds true, keep in mind Baltimore St. Frances Academy three-star quarterback Jalon Jones — who will take an unofficial visit to Ohio State during the weekend of March 3 — as an option to land one of those spots.
“I'm just looking forward to meeting coach Urban [Meyer] for the first time and seeing the campus,” Jones told Eleven Warriors. “I've already met coach [Ryan] Day a couple times, so going up there will just build our relationship.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Jones is considered the ninth-best dual-threat quarterback and No. 405 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he threw for 1,162 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 1,087 yards and nine scores to lead the the Panthers to the Maryland Association A Conference championship last season. He holds offers from more than a dozen programs, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina State, UCLA, Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Jones — who is originally from Richmond, Virginia, but attends school in Baltimore — has built a strong relationship with Meyer and Day through weekly texts and phone calls. However, he's excited to sit down with them in person next month and hopes to leave Columbus with an offer from the Buckeyes in-hand.
“It would mean a lot,” Jones said. “Almost every kid in the nation probably dreamed about playing at Ohio State growing up. To get an offer from them would be something special.”
BEST TEAM IN THE COUNTRY?
Jones isn’t the staff’s only target from St. Frances Academy, either, as four-star linebacker Shane Lee, four-star offensive guard Darrian Dalcourt and three-star running back Joachim Bangda also hold an offer from Ohio State.
All three were on campus last Saturday as part of the Buckeyes’ unofficial Junior Day.
— 21SAVAGE (@jbangda19) February 10, 2018
“I enjoyed Columbus. It's a great city to be in,” Bangda told Eleven Warriors. “It was a great visit. The coaches staff is amazing. Columbus is a beatufiul place to be, regardless of the weather. I enjoyed being around an amazing group of people with great experience and backgrounds.”
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Bangda is considered the 53rd-best running back and No. 607 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he rushed for 1,425 yards and 35 touchdowns in 12 games for the Panthers as a junior. He holds double-digit offers from programs such as Alabama, Maryland, Michigan State, UCLA, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin, but Ohio State stands out early thanks to one important factor.
“I love what the coaches are trying to do with the players with Real Life Wednesdays and a career after football,” Bangda said. “Not many schools offer that opportunity.”
Bangda — who wants to double major in biology and physiology before getting his doctorate in medicine in order to pursue a career as a neurosurgeon — talks with running backs coach Tony Alford and defensive line coach and area recruiter Larry Johnson at least once per week, as well.
“They are good guys who want the best for their players on and off the field. They see to it and make that their duty,” Bangda said, noting he also spoke with Meyer for a considerable amount of time during his visit. “He is also a great guy, and that's the type of coaching staff I would like to be surrounded by.”
TONS OF OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM
Ohio State was set to bring on two of the nation's top safeties last cycle in four-stars Josh Proctor and Jaiden Woodbey until the latter flipped to Florida State during the Early Signing Period.
That means the Buckeyes will look to bring on at least one elite player at the position next year, with Okalhoma five-star Daxton Hill, New Jersey four-star “Rocket” Ronnie Hickman and Georgia four-star Jaylen McCollough among the staff's top targets. Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and offensive coordinator and area recruiter Kevin Wilson have also kept tabs on Mansfield, Texas, Legacy four-star Jalen Catalon with hopes of getting him on campus for an official visit this spring.
“They keep in touch on a consistent basis,” Catalon said. “Just asking about school and how my sports are going.”
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Catalon is considered the eighth-best safety and No. 142 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he's recorded 297 tackles, 12 interceptions, 10 pass break ups, seven forced fumbles and one pick-six in his two-year varsity career with the Broncos. He holds nearly two dozen offers from porgrams such as Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Oklahoma, Penn State and Texas.
Ohio State extended an offer to Catalon last summer, and he made his first and only trip to Columbus for the Buckeyes' 39-38 win over the Nittany Lions in late October.
“It's a great university and the atmosphere was electric,” Catalon said. “I loved it.”
Catalon is unsure when he'll make a decision on his future, but he plans to return to campus before making his college choice.