The Hurry Up: Ohio State Offers Defensive End Rian Davis While John and Khalil Branham Visit Spring Practice

By Andrew Lind on March 6, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Kalil and John Branham Jr.

Kalil and John Branham Jr.

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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.

THEIR REPUTATION PRECEDES THEM

Ohio State running backs coach and area recruiter Tony Alford extended a scholarship offer on the eve of spring practice to Apopka, Florida, Wekiva three-star hybrid defensive end/linebacker Rian Davis.

"It means a lot," Davis told Eleven Warriors. "I have always admired their program."

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Davis is considered the 34th-best weak-side defensive end and No. 512 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 93 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, six pass break ups, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season at Houston Clear Lake — where he spent two years before transferring back to Wekiva this offseason.

He holds more than two dozen offers from programs such as Clemson, Georgia, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Texas and UCF, but said the Buckeyes stand out because of their elite defense.

Davis is the teammate of four-star defensive tackle Tyler Davis — no relation — whom Ohio State offered last May. He attended a one-day camp in June and then the Buckeyes' 48-3 win over Michigan State in November.

THE OVERLOOKED CITY KIDS

With spring practice starting this morning, Ohio State will now welcome prospects to campus for unofficial — and starting in April, official — visits. Among those who were in attendance for the Buckeyes' first practice of 2018, Columbus Northland three-star running back John Branham Jr. and his younger brother, three-star wide receiver Kalil.

"[We] had a good time," the elder Branham told Eleven Warriors. "We got a full tour and talked to every coach. A lot of the players know us and follow us [on Twitter]. Most were like, 'Do y'all really squat and dead lift that much?'"

The two regularly post videos of their workouts on social media, whether it's pumping iron in the gym early in the morning or running with a weighted sled in the middle of the night. You may recall Alford once praised their workout routine — which sometimes includes former Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and wide receiver Michael Thomas, as well as New England Patriots defensive end James Harrison.

The 5-foot-10, 218-pound Branham is considered the 54th-best running back and No. 663 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he racked up 2,121 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns to be named first-team all-league and first-team all-district for the Vikings last season. He holds offers from Akron, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Kentucky, Kent State, Ohio, Pittsburgh and Toledo.

Kalil, meanwhile, stands 6-foot-1 and 190-pounds and is considered the 17th-best wide receiver and No. 129 prospect overall in the Class of 2020. He's a state champion in the 200- and 400-meter relays and holds offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky and Toledo.

Branham has been to campus several times over the last year, including the Buckeyes' 31-16 loss to Oklahoma and the aforementioned win over the Spartans. He speaks with offensive coordinator and area recruiter Kevin Wilson at least once per week, but this morning marked the first time either of them had an in-depth conversation with head coach Urban Meyer.

"He knew exactly who we were," Branham said.

The Branhams are bound to return again this spring, and they're hoping the familiarity with the program and the growing relationship with the staff ultimately leads to an offer from Ohio State.

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE TIME OFF

Ohio State also welcomed four-star offensive tackle commit Doug Nester to campus on Tuesday morning. 

He was able to attend thanks to a state-wide teachers strike that has shuttered West Virginia schools for nearly two weeks, though lawmakers agreed just this afternoon to give all state workers a 5 percent pay raise.

It marked at least the second trip to campus this offseason for the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Nester — who is considered the ninth-best offensive tackle and No. 56 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — as he also visited for the Buckeyes’ unofficial lineman Junior Day last month. 

Despite recent offers from Georgia, Oregon and Penn State, Nester remains all-in on his pledge to Ohio State. He’s been doing his best to recruit on behalf of the Buckeyes, and uses each trip to campus as a chance to build upon his relationship with the staff — even if he’s not taking to social media to let everyone know he’s on campus. 

“That's how I am with my team, too. I'm not a very flashy kid at all,” Nester told Eleven Warriors last month. “I'm glad the spotlight is off me, really. I can just work on my craft and try to be that quiet leader.”

QUARTERBACK PICTURE BECOMING CLEARER?

Baltimore St. Francis three-star Jalon Jones became the 12th quarterback offered by Ohio State this recruiting cycle during his unofficial visit on Friday, strengthening the Buckeyes' ties at one of the top programs in the state of Maryland.

The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Jones is considered the 10th-best dual-threat quarterback and No. 435 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 Panthers to the Maryland Association A Conference championship last season.

He holds offers from more than a dozen programs such as Alabama, Florida, Michigan State, North Carolina State, UCLA, Virginia and Virginia Tech, but head coach Urban Meyer has seemingly put Ohio State in the driver's seat following an in-person offer.

"It's an honor to get an offer from coach Meyer," Jones told Eleven Warriors. "I grew up watching the teams he coached at Florida, so that was a big reason I fell in love with football. It's just an honor to get an offer from the school he coaches. 

"He's one of the best that has ever coached in college, so just for him to offer me face-to-face meant a lot. I was trying not to get starstruck. Being with him was just an overwhelmingly positive experience for me."

Jones had never been to Columbus before, but this trip gave him a chance to spend time with Meyer, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day and quarterback Dwayne Haskins. He also toured campus and the Buckeyes' facilities.

"It was great," Jones said. "The players I was around are very cool, very positive and very helpful. The facilities are top-notch. I loved it. The way they set stuff up for after football [stands out, as well]. They know it's not just football, but how they prepare people for after that."

Ohio State also has offers out right now to several of Jones' teammates, including four-star linebacker Shane Lee, four-star offensive tackle Darrian Dalcourt and three-star running back Joachim Bangda. They do talk about playing together at the next level, too.

"We've joked about it like 'Hey, it would be great if we all went to the same school,' Jones said, "But we all know what we want to do with our lives and we'll be supportive no matter what school we go to. Those are gonna be my bros if they go to Ohio State or not."

Jones — who hopes to become a better leader as a senior — doesn't have a timeline in mind for when he'd like to make a decision on his future, but would rather choose a school when the time feels right.

"I'm not looking to be rushed at all," Jones said, noting he'll return to campus for a spring practice on March 29. "It could be next year, next month or the next day. Whenever I feel right about it, that's when I'll do it."

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