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 IN-STATE OPTION
Though Ohio State is set to welcome Houston St. Pius X four-star quarterback Grant Gunnell to campus for an official visit next weekend, the staff is making sure not to put all of its eggs in one basket.
In fact, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day was in Kettering early Friday morning to check on Archbishop Alter three-star quarterback Connor Bazelak.
“He was in this morning to watch me throw,” Bazelak told Eleven Warriors.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Bazelak is considered the 17th-best pro-style quarterback and No. 623 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he threw for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns — on roughly 10 attempts per game — to lead the Knights to their 17th-consecutive playoff appearance last season. He holds nearly two dozen offers form programs such as Boston College, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt and West Virginia, but previously said an opportunity to play for the home-state Buckeyes would be nothing short of a dream come true.
Bazelak was supposed to visit campus to watch practice this spring, but was unable to make the trip. Communication with Day has picked up considerably over the last few weeks, though, and he hopes to continue to build upon that relationship moving forward.
“I’m planning on talking to coach Day later to get some feedback and see where they are with things,” Bazelak said
Ohio State has seen a number of quarterback targets come off the board in recent weeks, with North Carolina four-star Sam Howell (Florida State), Iowa four-star Max Duggan (TCU), Texas four-star Grant Tisdale (Ole Miss) and Maryland three-star Jalon Jones (Florida) all making their respective college decisions this month. So with that said, it’s important for Day and the rest of the staff to have additional options if Gunnell ultimately chooses to play his college ball elsewhere, too.
Day will also travel to Florida next week to see Ocala West Port three-star quarterback Brian Maurer. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder is considered the 15th-best pro-style quarterback and No. 517 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he threw for 2,862 yards and 22 touchdowns for the Wolf Pack last fall.
CAN'T BLAME HIM
Almost a month after he included Ohio State in his Top 7 alongside Alabama, Clemson, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, it appears that Norfolk, Virginia, Maury four-star cornerback Sheridan Jones may be closing in on a decision.
Stay tuned for Friday @ 7:00PM
— SHERIDAN JONES (@SJones3_) April 16, 2018
The 6-foot, 170-pound Jones will make an announcement at 7 o’clock this evening, though the lack of details certainly leave a little room for interpretation. We may very well see him drop a Top 3 and announce a commitment date, but several sources close to Jones have told Eleven Warriors he’s likely to pledge his services to the Tigers instead.
If he does holds off, though, the Buckeyes would surely be among the final cut.
Jones — who is considered the 16th-best cornerback and No. 138 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — recently visited Columbus for the first time with his mother, Patrice. He received the red-carpet treatment with tours of Ohio Stadium, the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the student-athlete dorm rooms, and also spent time with head coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson.
“[They told me] that they pretty much breed defensive backs and they can see me perfectly at their school — not only athletically, but academically and spiritually,” Jones told Eleven Warriors.
Ohio State put itself in a great position with that two-day visit in late March, but things changed in a hurry following Jones’ unofficial visit to Death Valley for Clemson’s Spring Game last weekend.
Though the Buckeyes have Jones’ former teammate — four-star linebacker signee Teradja Mitchell — in their corner, the Tigers have familiarity of several visits this offseason and a quicker path to playing time with just five scholarship cornerbacks on the roster compared to eight.
Jones was supposed to take an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend to see the Crimson Tide, but cancelled that trip ahead of this evening’s announcement. That only lends credence to the notion that he’ll end his recruitment altogether.
WIDE RECEIVERS GALORE
Griffin, Georgia, Spalding four-star wide receiver Zion Puckett has always admired the Ohio State football program from afar, but finally made his first trip to Columbus for a two-day unofficial visit for the Spring Game last weekend.
THE Ohio State pic.twitter.com/V69j06cH6s
— Zion Puckett (@ZionPuckett) April 13, 2018
“The visit actually went well,” Puckett told Eleven Warriors. “The thing that impressed me most is how the community around Ohio State was very respectful.”
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Puckett is considered the 37th-best wide receiver and No. 210 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 36 receptions for 660 yards and five touchdowns for the Jaguars last season. He holds more than two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas A&M and UCF.
The Buckeyes offered Puckett a scholarship back in early February, and he’s maintained contact with head coach Meyer, Schiano, wide receivers coach Zach Smith and co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Alex Grinch in the months since. This weekend marked the first time they’d interacted face-to-face, however.
“They were impressed with my personality,” Puckett said. “They told me I was their No. 1 prospect for their program.”
Puckett made the trip with his mother, who also came away extremely impressed by what Ohio State has to offer. And with family living close by, she’d feel comfortable with him playing his college ball far from home.
“She actually loves it because she knows we have family of hers up there that I could always lean on,” Puckett said.
Puckett plans to take an official visit this fall, and there’s no doubt the Buckeyes are a serious player in his recruitment moving forward.
“Ohio State would actually be in my Top 10, that’s for sure,” he said.
JUST BE PATIENT
Ohio State also remains a top option for Fort Wayne, Indiana, three-star wide receiver Craig Young, who made his second trip to campus this month for the annual Spring Game.
— YoungStuna (CY) (@craig_young00) April 14, 2018
“It was good,” Young told Eleven Warriors. “The game was fun to watch and the experience was very impressive.”
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Young is considered the 93rd-best wide receiver and No. 701 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 29 catches for 367 yards and four touchdowns to help the Generals to the sectional round of the state playoffs last season. He holds offers from Central Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan State, Purdue, Toledo and Wisconsin, but I actually placed an early 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction in favor of the Buckeyes following Young’s visit for a spring practice earlier this month.
“I like the program,” Young said. “It’s a pretty good program with great coaches. It’s just nice.”
Young has gotten close with Meyer, Smith and director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and often leans on Ohio State wide receiver/fellow Fort Wayne native Austin Mack for advice. Saturday’s visit just allowed him to spend more time with Smith and assistant wide receivers coach Keenan Bailey and see Mack play in person.
“[They] told me I need to get better, stay focused and be on top of everything I do,” Young said. “I hope we just keep building chemistry.”