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.
One of Ohio State’s top defensive end targets last cycle was a raw, but extremely athletic former basketball player named Jayson Oweh. And though the four-star ultimately signed with Penn State, it hasn’t stopped the Buckeyes from going back to his former high school in search of another prospect with similar attributes.
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was in New Jersey a few weeks back as part of the Spring Evaluation Period, at which time he offered a scholarship to Blair Academy three-star defensive end David Ojabo — though there was a bit of miscommunication and he didn’t announce the offer until Monday evening.
Everything was cleared up, though, when Schiano informed Ojabo that defensive line coach Larry Johnson would swing by his school on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s big time,” Ojabo told Eleven Warriors. “It means a lot to get an offer from a powerhouse school like Ohio State.”
The 6-foot-5, 233-pound Ojabo is considered the 56th-best strong-side defensive end and No. 860 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he recorded 35 tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery for a score in just seven games opposite of Oweh with the Buccaneers last season.
That’s the extent of his experience playing organized football, yet he holds nearly three dozen offers from programs such as Clemson, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.
Ojabo — who was born in Nigerian and moved to Scotland when he was seven years old — came to the United State in 2016 to play basketball and soccer. He made the transition to football and put on a helmet for the first time in August.
“David is a great young man,” Blair Academy head coach Jim Saylor told Eleven Warriors. “He still has a lot to learn, but he’s a freak athlete.”
Ojabo has never been to Columbus, but hopes to make that trip sooner rather than later. He’ll narrow down his list of offers later this summer and take official visits in the fall, with a decision to come whenever he believes he’s found the right place.
In Schiano, the Buckeyes have one of New Jersey’s most well-known and respected recruiters. And the impression he’s already made on Ojabo could pay dividends down the road.
“I really like his personality,” Ojabo said, noting few of their conversations have revolved football. “He’s very down to earth.”
A TINY DELAY
Indianapolis Warren Central four-star wide receiver David Bell was supposed be wrapping up his two-day unofficial visit to Ohio State this afternoon, but was forced to reschedule since head coach Urban Meyer would be out of town — our sources indicate he was enjoying one of Chicago’s finest steakhouses last night.
That said, the Buckeyes remain highly interested in the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bell, which is why wide receivers coach Zach Smith made his way to Indianapolis on Tuesday morning. He also traveled to St. Louis to check on four-star wideouts Jameson Williams and Marcus Washington.
OH KY Indy Chicago STL— Zach Sith #Zone6 (@CoachZachSmith) May 22, 2018
All in 2 Days. #Zone6
Bell — the 16th-best wide receiver and No. 102 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — told Eleven Warriors he’s currently in the process of rescheduling the visit, but doesn’t have a date set just yet.
That said, I still believe Ohio State is the favorite to land Bell’s pledge despite a strong push from Purdue. The Boilermakers are offering him a chance to play both football and basketball at the next level, while the Buckeye are not. He doesn’t plan to make a decision until after the football season, though, and the staff could very well seize momentum during his visit and push for a quicker timeline.
Ohio State is looking to add four or five wideouts this cycle, and Bell is among their top priorities next to the aforementioned Williams and Washington; Georgia four-star Zion Puckett; Tennessee four-star Trey Knox, and Texas four-stars Jalen “Boobie” Curry and Elijah Higgins.
THIS IS THE SONG THAT NEVER ENDS
We’ve talked at length about Ohio State’s search for a quarterback this cycle, particularly the overall lack of depth at the position nationally.
The Buckeyes have yet to go all-out for a particular signal caller as a result, though Houston St. Pius X four-star Grant Gunnell is widely perceived as the staff’s top target. Sources have told us offensive coordinator Ryan Day isn't entirely sold on what he brings to the table, though, which would clarify why the staff continues to search far and wide for alternative options at the position.
If Ohio State doesn’t push for Gunnell’s commitment — or he ultimately chooses to go elsewhere — the staff will almost certainly have to flip a committed prospect like Michigan State four-star pledge Dwan Mathis, South Carolina four-star commit Ryan Hilinski or Wisconsin four-star pledge Graham Mertz late in the process in order to land an elite quarterback this year. Or, they could take a gamble on a talented, yet unproven in-state prospect like Kettering Archbishop Alter three-star Connor Bazelak.
Simply put, backup options are few and far between, so it's notable that another quarterback with an offer from the Buckeyes has seemingly come off the board on Monday night.
Day had been keeping tabs on San Bernardino, California, Cajon four-star Jayden Daniels and hoped to get him on campus this spring. That’s now even more of an uphill climb since Daniels narrowed his list of more than two dozen scholarship offers to Cal, Georgia, Nebraska, Penn State, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC and Utah.
Happy early birthday momma, I love you! pic.twitter.com/hxphUs3z8c— JD5 (@JayD__5) May 22, 2018
The 6-foot-3, 170-pound Daniels is considered the second-best dual-threat quarterback and No. 80 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he threw for 5,139 yards and 62 touchdowns and rushed for 1,292 yards and 15 scores to break the state record for total yards in a season while leading the Cowboys to an appearance in the state championship game last fall. The Bruins are considered the favorite to land his pledge.
A source close to Gunnell, meanwhile, told Eleven Warriors he’s eyeing trips to LSU and UCLA in the coming weeks. If either of those visits happen, it’ll only muddy the quarterback waters even further for Ohio State.
I still have Gunnell pegged to the Buckeyes, but his pledge is no longer the sure thing it was following his “home run” official visit just about a month ago. He’s currently trending toward Arizona thanks to his connections to head coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who were both at Texas A&M when he was committed to the Aggies.
Gunnell is expected to make his college decision in June — shortly after he competes in the Elite 11 Finals in Los Angeles — but I get the sense his recruitment is going to drag further into the summer than that. And it’s entirely possible the staff will look to get him to campus one more time to offset the momentum elsewhere.