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.
THE FIRST STEP
Last week, just hours after he received an offer from Ohio State, Houston St. Pius X four-star quarterback Grant Gunnell decommitted from Texas A&M. And while Arkansas is considered the favorite to land his pledge this time around, the Buckeyes will have their shot to make an impression later this spring.
As first reported by 247Sports' Billy Embody and since confirmed by Eleven Warriors, the 6-foot-6, 212-pound Gunnell — who is considered the second-best pro-style quarterback and No. 49 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — will be on campus for the first time on the weekend of March 8.
As I mentioned previously, Gunnell committed to the Aggies last June over offers from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Tennessee and UCLA. But rumors of a flip have surrounded his recruitment since Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin in November.
The timing of Gunnell's decommitment was purely coincindental, though, rather than based on Ohio State's offer earlier in the day, despite the obvious parallels to the recruitment of quarterback Tate Martell, who was committed to the Aggies when the Buckeyes got involved.
That’s where the similarities end, though.
While Martell's grandfather graduated from Ohio State, Gunnell's grandfather, Jim Price, was a member of Arkansas' 1964 national championship squad, and both of his parents, Chris and Julie, graduated from the university. His relationship with new head coach Chad Morris is strong, as well, which is why the Razorbacks are expected to eventually land his pledge.
Gunnell — who threw for 4,936 yards and 61 touchdowns and rushed for 390 yards and eight more scores to lead the Panthers to the state championship game last season — has a number of other visits, including trips to LSU and Oklahoma State, also on the docket. And based on that alone, proximity seems like it may play factor in his final decision.
It remains to be seen if the Buckeyes can overcome that.
P.S. My colleague Andrew Ellis will have more on the Buckeyes' search for a quarterback in the current recruiting class later this week, so stay tuned for that.
NOT GIVING UP YET
Five-star offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs and four-star cornerback Julian Barnett are among the contingent of prospects from Belleville, Michigan, who are on campus as of this reading, meanwhile. They made the two-hour trip south from Cleveland, where they participated in the Under Armour All-America Camp Series on Sunday morning.
I recently received a bit of flack after I left 6-foot-4, 270-pound Dobbs — who is considered the top-rated offensive tackle and No. 9 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — off of my list of top targets for Ohio State this cycle, as the Buckeyes will have to overcome his relationship Michigan State and the loss of assistant coordinator and area recruiter Kerry Coombs to the NFL's Tennessee Titans if they want to secure his pledge. The staff is doing its best, though.
The schools that are in close contact with Dobbs include Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State. He said that those schools are contacting him “all the time,” adding location won’t factor into his choice.
Ohio State texts him every day, he said, and has been the most steadfast in the pursuit with contact from offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and coach Urban Meyer. Recently departed defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs visited his school a couple of times.
As the Buckeyes shuffle recruiting responsibilities, it’s important for Meyer and Studrawa to keep in contact with Dobbs, and maintaining Coombs’ relationships in the Detroit area will be critical moving forward.
Ohio State, which already holds a commitment from West Virginia four-star tackle Doug Nester, plans to taking as many as six offensive lineman this cycle. It’ll be interesting to see if they make a renewed push for Dobbs — who hopes to make a decision on his future by the start of his senior season — given their interest in prospects like Florida four-star tackle Michael Tarquin, Georgia four-star tackle Harry Miller and Rhode Island four-star tackle Xavier Truss.
Barnett, meanwhile, committed to the Spartans back in December, just one day after he picked up an offer from the Buckeyes that he told Eleven Warriors “changes things.”
He’d grown quite fond of Coombs during the process and several trips to Columbus, so Ohio State assistants Alex Grinch and Taver Johnson are effectively starting fresh.
Belleville defensive ends Damon Payne and Jalen Hunt, linebacker Marvin Ham and cornerback Andre Seldon also made the trip. They’ll visit Notre Dame tomorrow together, as well.
BEST IN THE BUSINESS
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said during his National Signing Day press conference he expects his assistants to make a significant contribution on the recruiting trail.
“You can't coach here at Ohio State unless you're an elite recruiter. Just can't. That's nonexistence. Recruiting is the name of the game and our coaches all did a very good job and very proud of them.”
The results were clear, as the Buckeyes finished the 2018 recruiting cycle with the second-rank haul in the country and the highest-rated class in school history.
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who just last week became one of two assistants to surpass the $1 million salary mark, was instrumental in those efforts. He was recognized by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 2 recruiter after he helped Ohio State land Tampa Berkeley Prep five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere on Signing Day. Schiano was also key in the respective recruitments of Oklahoma four-star safety Josh Proctor and New Jersey four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste.
S/O to our top National Recruiters!
@OSUCoachSchiano claims @bigten Recruiter of the Year@CoachTonyAlford @CoachZachSmith @CoachStudOL @R2X_Rushmen1 round out the top 6 in the Big Ten & finish in top 25 nationally#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/q3xc7D4sou
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) February 16, 2018
Running backs coach Tony Alford finished fifth, while wide receivers coach Zach Smith (14), offensive line coach Greg Studrawa (23) and defensive line coach Larry Johnson (25) rounded out the rankings.