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.
MOST IMPORTANT VISIT OF THE SPRING
Ohio State welcomed Houston St. Pius X four-star quarterback Grant Gunnell and his parents, Chris and Julie, to campus for an official visit this weekend.
To say the staff hit it out of the park would be an understatement.
“It was fantastic. They did a real nice job hosting the family and they certainly enjoyed it,” a source close to Gunnell told Eleven Warriors. “They got to know the coaches, their wives, the program and the academics much better. They really enjoyed themselves up there this weekend.”
The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Gunnell — who is considered the third-best pro-style quarterback and No. 96 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — was last on campus with his father for an unofficial visit in early March. This marked his mother’s first trip to Columbus, however.
The family spent most of their time on campus with head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day. They watched film together and discussed changes the staff wants to make within the Buckeyes’ offense that would certainly benefit a gunslinging — yet functionally mobile — signal caller like Gunnell.
“They asked a lot of tough questions,” the source said, noting the conversations also covered academics and life after football. “They want their son taken care of — as any parent would — and to make sure that he’s the style of quarterback they’re looking for. They felt like they had a lot of their questions answered.”
There’s no question Ohio State now leads Gunnell’s recruitment following this weekend’s visit. The emphasis the staff places on academics and providing avenues for their players outside of football — such as internships, guest lectures and job fairs — has separated them from schools like LSU and Oklahoma State.
“I think he’s just so interested and intrigued by what coach Meyer is doing there for the kids and really setting them up for life after football,” the source said. “He has aspirations and he wants to go to the NFL, but the academics and what he’s seen with the Real Life Wednesdays and all that has really piqued his interest.”
Gunnell — who wants to attend business school for sports marketing or finance — isn’t ready to make a decision just yet, though. The Panthers open spring practice this week, and he wants to focus all of his attention on that and competing in the Elite 11 Finals on June 1-3.
“He’ll probably try to wind it down and make a decision after that, but he doesn’t want any distractions for the Elite 11,” the source said. “He’ll probably just put it on hold until then.”
That said, Gunnell doesn’t have any other visits scheduled at the moment. He’s been to Baton Rouge twice since January and is quite familiar with Stillwater, so there’s not much left to see. There shouldn’t be too much anxiety in Columbus unless he decides to take another trip in the next few weeks.
With all that said, Ohio State has positioned itself to land one of the nation’s top quarterbacks and an elite recruiter who could bring some of Texas’ top prospects with him. And if he keeps the above mentioned timeline, it’ll be a huge boost for the Buckeyes as we head toward The Opening Finals and Friday Night Lights — both great opportunities for him to put his leadership skills on full display.
HOPE HE'S IN NO HURRY
Though Ohio State landed a commitment last night from Texas five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson, the Buckeyes could lose anywhere between three and six of its starting wideouts following the 2018 season. That means restocking the cupboard is one of the staff’s top priorities this cycle.
Late last month, Ohio state invited Thompson’s Station, Tennessee, Independence four-star wide receiver T.J. Sheffield to campus for an unofficial visit. And on Monday morning, he included the Buckeyes in his Top 8 alongside Arkansas, Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue and Virginia Tech.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Sheffield is considered the 37th-best wide receiver and No. 233 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 56 catches for 840 yards and six touchdowns to lead the Eagles to the second round of the state playoffs last fall.
Sheffield’s aforementioned visit marked his first and only time on campus. He watched spring practice, toured the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and spent time with assistant wide receivers coach Keenan Bailey and running backs coach/area recruiter Tony Alford.
“It was a great trip,” Sheffield told Eleven Warriors. “[The facility had] a lot of history and reminders of their rivalry game.”
That said, Sheffield — a one-time Tennessee pledge — is one of more than two dozen wide receivers to hold an offer from Ohio State right now. And it’s probably safe to assume he sits behind names like Florida four-star John Dunmore; Georgia four-stars Ramel Keyton and Zion Puckett; Indiana four-star David Bell; St. Louis four-stars Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams; Tennessee four-stars Trey Knox and Lance Wilhoite; Texas four-stars Jalen “Boobie” Curry and Elijah Higgins; and Indiana three-star Craig Young on the staff’s list of priorities.
SAFE TO ASSUME WHERE THIS IS HEADING?
On Monday — exactly one month after he included Ohio State in his Top 6 alongside Auburn, Miami, Ole Miss, Penn State and Tennessee — the above-mentioned Ramel Keyton announced he’ll make his college decision on May 17.
I will be announcing my commitment May 17th .— Holiday (@Wlmel10) April 30, 2018
The 6-foot-3, 186-pound Keyton is considered the 27th-best wide receiver and No. 165 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he hauled in 59 passes for 1,294 yards and 16 touchdowns to help Marietta to the state quarterfinals last season. He’s never been to campus, but has built a strong relationship from afar with wide receivers coach Zach Smith and co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach/area recruiter Alex Grinch.
“Even though I haven’t been down there, they still make sure to show me all the different types of things at Ohio State,” Keyton told Eleven Warriors last month. “They show me some of the training they do with the wide receivers in practice and some of the videos of the team.”
Keyton — who is teammates with four-star offensive tackle commit Jake Wray, four-star quarterback target Harrison Bailey and four-star defensive end target Arik Gilbert — is hoping to set up an unofficial visit to Columbus before his planned announcement. Even if it happens, it seems as if there is some good news on the horizon for the Volunteers.
The Opening Finals will be held this summer at The Star in Frisco, Texas — the state-of-the-art indoor practice facility of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys — so it’s only appropriate that 17(!) of the nation’s top prospects received invitations during the Dallas Regional on Sunday afternoon.
Ohio State commits and targets among them include the aforementioned Wilson; Tulsa, Oklahoma, Booker T. Washington five-star safety Daxton Hill; Richmond Fort Bend four-star cornerback Erick Young; and Aledo four-star cornerback Jeffery “Scooby” Carter — all of which recently include the Buckeyes among their Top 6 schools.
Wilson, meanwhile, now makes two Ohio State commits invited to the prestigious event, as West Virginia four-star offensive tackle Doug Nester punched his ticket last week. Other notable targets who have already been invited include the above-mentioned Dunmore, as well as:
- IMG Academy five-star defensive end Nolan Smith II
- Virginia five-star linebacker Brandon Smith
- California five-star athlete Horace “Bru” McCoy
- DeMatha Catholic four-star safety Nick Cross
- IMG Academy four-star running back Noah Cain
- Florida four-star linebacker Rian Davis
- St. Louis four-star wide receiver Marcus Washington
The regional camp tour continues this coming weekend with a stop at Massillon Washington on Saturday. I’ll be in attendance, so stay tuned for updates from the event here at Eleven Warriors.