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.
ADDING ANOTHER NAME TO THE MIX
Ohio State’s search for a quarterback this recruiting cycle has been something to witness, hasn’t it?
After preaching about the overall lack of depth at the position in the current class, head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Ryan Day had seemingly zeroed in on Houston St. Pius X four-star quarterback Grant Gunnell. The Buckeyes were widely considered the team to beat in his recruitment following his official visit in late April, but things took an abrupt — and surprising — turn when the staff offered a scholarship to Michigan State four-star commit Dwan Mathis just a few days later.
Fast forward nearly a month, and Ohio State has since hosted Wisconsin four-star pledge Graham Mertz for an unofficial visit and extended an offer to Orange, California, Lutheran four-star quarterback Ryan Hilinski, who has been committed to South Carolina since April.
— Big Bo (@ryan_hilinski) May 11, 2018
“It’s a big offer for me, especially coming from coach [Urban] Meyer,” Hilinski told Eleven Warriors. “He recognizes great talent and he’s coached a lot of it. Getting an offer from them solidifies all of the hard work I’ve been putting in this offseason. It’s a big honor for me, for sure.”
Day visited the 6-foot-4, 222-pound Hilinski — considered the sixth-best pro-style quarterback and No. 168 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — earlier this month as part of the Spring Evaluation Period. He taped his practice and showed it to Meyer, who offered over the phone just a few days later.
“They have a long list of what it takes to be a great quarterback, but I think the biggest thing for them is my leadership skills,” Hilinski said, noting how he gave a devotional speech to his teammates ahead of practice that afternoon. “I think that’s the biggest thing they see in me, that I can lead a team if they’re off track. That’s a big thing I pride myself in, as well, and just what I think is a bigger part of being a quarterback. It’s not always the arm or the legs, a lot of it is mental.”
The coaches have already made a strong impression on Hilinski in a short period of time.
“They’re great guys. They’re very interested in my personal life, and I’ve talked with them about my personal stories. They’ve been great about it,” Hilinski said, noting the conversation rarely revolves around the game of football. “They’re more interested in how I’m doing personally, and that’s a big deal to me.”
Even so, Hilinski is without a doubt one of the nation’s top signal callers. He threw for 3,749 yards and 33 touchdowns — compared to just six interceptions — to lead the Lancers to the second round of the state playoffs last fall, and that’s a big reason he’s near the top of the staff’s priority chart.
“The biggest thing when talking to them [is that] they can see you need a quarterback who can throw to win the game,” Hilinski said, recalling last year’s national championship game between Alabama and Georgia. “That’s what they preached to me. I can throw the ball, but I can move around if I need to move around. They’re just trying to move into that kind of offense with the drop-back, pro-style quarterback.”
The next step, of course, is for Hilinski to visit campus for the first time. He’s still 100 percent committed to the Gamecocks, though, and that makes it a little bit tricky.
“I’m still trying to see if I should,” Hilinski said, noting he and his family have a very strong bond with South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon and quarterbacks coach Dan Werner. “I want to talk to the coaches and see where we’re at. Based off those [conversations], we’ll see if I can visit Ohio State or not.”
Hilinski wants to make a final decision before the season starts in order to focus on his senior year without distractions. But if he takes an official visit to Columbus in the coming months, there’s no doubt the Buckeyes will make things interesting.
ALL FOR YOU, TY
As you may know, Hilinski is the younger brother of late Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who tragically took his own life earlier this year.
— Big Bo (@ryan_hilinski) January 20, 2018
Losing Tyler left Hilinski and his family with so many questions, but they quickly came to the realization that they needed to make something good come out of such a heartbreaking situation.
The family created Hilinski’s Hope, a non-profit foundation that sets out to educate, advocate and remove the stigma associated with mental illness for student-athletes.
“Tyler was in a dark situation, and we didn’t even know about it,” Hilinski said. “We want to help people get out of situations they’re in when they have no hope or people around them that they can vent to. We’re trying to implement programs where they can go to those places.”
The Hilinskis were extremely close, and Tyler was always the first person Ryan told when he found out about a new scholarship offer. He’s now the first person Ryan mentions on social media whenever he visits a school or receives another offer. Hilinski will also switch his jersey from No. 4 to his big brother’s No. 3 this fall.
“Tyler was really the guy who took me under his wing and said, ‘Hey, Ryan. Here’s how we’re going to do things and here’s how you’re going to be great.’ He told me every time I would think about not having any offers — and I was fretting and was nervous — he said, ‘Dude, you’re going to have 30 offers by the time it’s all said and done.’ I’m pretty close to that number, and just having that trust in my big brother like that and seeing him progress through what he had to deal with was a big deal for me. He’s a big role model to me.”
If you’d like to support Hilinski’s Hope and help fund the programs for student-athletes and their mental health and wellness, consider donating to their mission or buying a bottle or wristband emblazoned with Tyler’s number or the name of the foundation.