The Hurry Up: Ohio State Welcomes Quarterbacks Grant Gunnell, Max Duggan to Campus, Extends Offer to Chicago Tight End Jahleel Billingsley

By Andrew Lind on March 8, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Jahleel Billingsley

Jahleel Billingsley

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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.

HEATING UP

Ohio State welcomed two of the nation's top signal callers to campus on Thursday morning, as Houston St. Pius X four-star Grant Gunnell and Council Bluffs, Iowa, Lewis Central four-star Max Duggan attended the Buckeyes' second practice of the spring.

Both remain on campus as of this writing, but sources told Eleven Warriors they've spent a considerable amount of time with head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. Most of their conversations involved the program's focus on life after football.

Their visit marks the beginning of a very important two month period with regard to Ohio State's quarterback pursuit, which I detailed in my recruiting mailbag this morning. Four other quarterbacks have shared their intentions to visit this spring, and we should get a better understanding of where the Buckeyes stand with each one — and vice versa.

It’s safe to say [Gunnell] is the more highly coveted quarterback, but proximity is perceived to be the biggest threat to Ohio State’s chances. If he returns for an official visits later this spring, it’s clearly not an issue for Gunnell — though, as I’ve mentioned before, Arkansas and Oklahoma State would certainly still have the upper hand in his recruitment. 

Duggan, meanwhile, seems solely focused on schools in the Midwest. I know he’s intrigued by what the Buckeyes have to offer, but I get the sense he’s the type of quarterback the staff would circle back to later in the process rather than accept his commitment in April, when he intends to make a decision. I anticipate Nebraska or Notre Dame will be his choice if he follows through with those plans.

I hope to catch up with both quarterbacks in the coming days, though Duggan is heading to Notre Dame for the weekend and it might be early next week before we can link up. Either way, stay tuned to Eleven Warriors for more on the Buckeyes' ever-changing quarterback situation.

FRIEND OR FUTURE FOE?

Crystal Lake, Illinois, South four-star offensive tackle Trevor Keegan was also at Ohio State's practice with his father this morning. He made Eleven Warriors aware of intentions last night before he boarded his plane to Columbus.

The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Keegan is considered the 16th-best offensive tackle and No. 139 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he was named first-team all-state for the Gators last season. He holds nearly two dozen offers from programs such as Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Penn State and Wisconsin.

This marked Keegan's second time on campus, as he was one of just a handful of sophomores to attend the program's Junior Day in January 2017. The Wolverines are considered the favorite in his recruitment at this point in time, but today's offer from the Buckeyes certainly puts them in the thick of things. 

We'll have more on Keegan's trip to campus in the coming days, as well.

JUMPED INTO THE LEAD?

In the aforementioned recruiting mailbag, I was asked about Ohio State's top targets at the tight end position. I listed Chicago Phillips Academy four-star tight end Jahleel Billingsley, who actually just picked up an offer from the Buckeyes on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Billingsley is considered the ninth-best tight end and No. 259 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 14 catches for 243 yards and three touchdowns to help the Wildcats to the state title last season. He holds 20 offers from programs such as Cincinnati, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Penn State and West Virginia, but the Buckeyes have certainly positioned themselves to make quite the impact in his recruitment. 

Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, naturally, was the one who extended the offer to Billingsley. He'll likely make his first trip to campus this spring. 

HIS LAST NAME SHOULD BE HOOKER

Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, three-star cornerback Marlin "M.J." Devonshire Jr. has become quite familiar with the Ohio State football program since the Buckeyes offered him a scholarship during his unofficial visit for the 48-3 win over Michigan State in November. He was on campus in December and told Eleven Warriors on Thursday he's looking to return again this spring, as well.

"I like the tradition," Devonshire said. "They are well structured and they are all about winning. Reminds me a lot of Aliquippa. The facilities are very nice. The school is nice. I like how it's an actual campus."

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Devonshire — who is considered the 35th-best cornerback and No. 411 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — is also a track star and talented basketball player. He hopes to lead the Quips deep in the playoffs on the hardwood this year and plans to make the trip to Columbus when their season comes to an end.

Devonshire — who led Aliquippa with six interceptions as a sophomore and was rarely targeted as a junior — also holds offers Maryland, Oregon State, Penn State, Syracuse, Toledo and West Virginia. He's in no hurry to make a decision on his future, but Ohio State has positioned itself well early on.

Former assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs made quite the impression on Devonshire during his previous visits, but new cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson has stepped in and filled that void seamlessly. It helps that the two have known each other dating back to Johnson's days as Temple's defensive coordinator and area recruiter.

"[We] have a good relationship," Devonshire said.

Devonshire will be joined on the visit by his teammate, two-way lineman Solvaughn Moreland.

NO SURPRISE HERE

Ohio State could potentially lose its top six receivers following the 2018 season, so the staff will look to bring on at least four more this recruiting cycle. Cuero, Texas, five-star Jordan Whittington will not be one of them, however.

On Wednesday afternoon, the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Whittington — who is considered the fourth-best wideout and No. 26 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — listed a Final 4 of Florida, Texas, Texas A&M and UCLA. He'll announce his decision on Saturday at 2 p.m., with the Longhorns widely expected to land his pledge.

Whittington listed the Buckeyes in his Top 6 back in mid-December, citing wide receivers coach Zach Smith as a big reason why he had interest in the program despite never having been to campus.

"He has stayed consistent [with contacting me]," Whittington told Eleven Warriors at that time. "I like him a lot."

Distance, of course, worked against the Buckeyes in their pursuit of Whittington. They were hoping to get him to Columbus for the first time in April — when prospects are allowed to start taking official visits — but his accelerated timeline made that impossible. 

Whittington was one of more than two dozen wide receivers with an offer from Ohio State, so his decision to forge ahead without the Buckeyes doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Prospects like Indiana four-star David Bell; Houston four-star Jalen "Boobie" Curry; Georgia four-star Ramel Keyton; Tennessee four-stars Trey Knox and Lance Wilhoite; St. Louis four-stars Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams; and Texas four-star Garrett Wilson remain much higher priorities.

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