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.
DOING SOMETHING RIGHT, FOR ONCE...
The NCAA Division I Council adopted a rule on Wednesday afternoon that will allow college football players to play up to four games in a season while maintaining their redshirt status. Players will still have only five years to to play four seasons of competition, but this is a drastic change that will have a lasting impact on roster management moving forward.
The rule goes into effect for the upcoming season.
"This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being,” Division I Council chairman and Miami athletic director Blake James said through in a statement. “Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries. Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition."
Schools will now be able to play true freshmen early in the year and/or in blowouts without burning an entire year of their eligibility. They’ll also have a shot at becoming a regular contributor before a decision is made on their redshirt year, rather than it being a seemingly predetermined outcome, while also saving reps for veteran players.
That will be especially beneficial for programs like Ohio State, which is often hesitant to redshirt talented players given they’re more likely to head to the National Football League after just three seasons in the program. That four-game stretch will be invaluable in determining whether or not a player is on the fast track to the next level.
Others might get their first taste of college football late in the year, when a school no longer in the race for the national championship sets its sights on the following season. Instead of waiting until spring ball to see what the soon-to-be redshirt freshman offers, coaches can get their players live game repetitions, which is impossible to simulate and will help their development tremendously.
As for the roster itself, I anticipate there will be an increase in the number of redshirts each year.
The Buckeyes only redshirted six players last fall, but wide receivers Jaylen Harris and Trevon Grimes (who ultimately transferred to Florida) played in three and two games last year. Defensive tackle Haskell Garrett (eight) and safety Brendon White (five) saw the field, as well, but could have been capped at four to preserve another year of eligibility since neither played a significant role on defense last year.
With players who would have otherwise run out of eligibility after four years now on track for a fifth season, it’ll be interesting to see how that impacts future recruiting classes. Surely less scholarships will be available as a result, but oversigning will still remain prevalent. We’re likely to see more attrition than ever before when it comes to veterans who get passed on the depth chart by younger, more talented players as a result.
In the short term, players who are sitting behind established starters will remain motivated by the possibility of playing time during their redshirt season and they’re less likely to be discouraged and look an opportunity to see the field elsewhere.
I think the benefits far outweigh any concerns over a coach watching a freshman in limited duty and determining he’s not worthy of his scholarship, or that freshman who is buried on the depth chart has a strong four-game stretch and other programs reach out to gauge his interest in transferring.
In the end, this rule change is one that promotes fairness for student-athletes, and there’s a reason it was unanimously approved by coaches across the country.
CIRCLING BACK (SINCE I WAS ON VACATION)
When Ohio State landed a commitment from Austin Lake Travis five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson in late April, he mentioned he wouldn’t be the only Texan in the Buckeyes’ Dynasty ’19 recruiting class. One prospect he singled out was his good friend, Round Rock Cedar Ridge three-star wideout Jaylen Ellis, though he didn’t have an offer at the time.
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith stopped by Ellis’ high school during the Spring Evaluation Period in early May, and then Meyer extended a scholarship over the phone late last month.
— jaylen ellis 4 (@J4ylenellis) May 30, 2018
“It’s big,” Ellis told Eleven Warriors. “Knowing I got an offer from a school as successful as it is, it’s huge.”
The 6-foot, 180-pound Ellis is considered the 86th-best wide receiver and No. 640 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, as he caught 56 passes for 1,268 yards and 18 touchdowns to lead the Raiders to the state semifinals last fall. He committed to Baylor one year ago this Friday, but has since picked up nearly two dozen offers from programs such as Arizona State, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, TCU and UCF.
Since the offer, Ellis has grown especially close to Smith. The two recently met up at the Texas State satellite camp on June 7, which was co-hosted by Houston and Texas.
“He’s a good guy,” Ellis said. “Just had a good time.”
Ellis plans to take an official visit to Ohio State, though he doesn’t have a specific date in mind. You can imagine he’ll be joined on the trip by Wilson, who recently took an unofficial visit while in town for the Memorial Tournament in Dublin. He also attended Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
“Garrett just talks about what kind of monster they are making and what they are putting together,” Ellis said.
Ohio State is expected to take at least three more wide receivers this cycle, with Indiana four-star David Bell; St. Louis four-stars Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams; Tennessee four-star Lance Wilhoite among their top targets. Other names to consider include Kentucky four-star Milton Wright, Tennessee four-star Trey Knox and Texas four-star Elijah Higgins.
GETTING IN THE GAME EARLY
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day were in Georgia this morning for a satellite camp at Clark Atlanta University. Afterward, they offered a scholarship to Loganville Grayson quarterback C.J. Dixon.
— CJ Dixon 2020 (@cj_dixon2020) June 13, 2018
“It was mind-blowing,” Dixon told Eleven Warriors. “They were very professional.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Dixon is not yet ranked by any major recruiting sites, which is understandable given he only played in two games last fall as the third-string to senior quarterback D.J. Irons. He completed just 1-of-5 passes for nine yards and rushed three times for 25 yards in limited mop-up duty for the Rams.
With Irons off to Eastern Kentucky, Dixon and rising senior J’Kori Jones will compete for the starting spot this fall. It’ll be a rather interesting battle to watch, given Grayson has the talent to compete for a state title almost every season.
Dixon, who also holds offers from Boston College, Florida and South Alabama, has never been to campus and isn’t sure if he’ll make a trip to Columbus anytime soon.
“I’m just taking it all in at this time,” Dixon said.
BETTER LUCK THIS TIME
Atlanta Pace Academy wide receiver Jayden Thomas also earned a scholarship offer during Wednesday morning’s camp.
— Jayden Thomas (@jgpt333) June 13, 2018
“It means the world, honestly. I feel so honored,” Thomas told Eleven Warriors. “The history and the great athletes they have produced [stands out]. I think I can be next.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Thomas is not ranked by any recruiting sites, either, but holds offers as a rising sophomore from Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia. He recorded 20 catches for 290 yards and two touchdowns for the Knights — who, you may recall, had five-star offensive guard Jamaree Salyer, a one-time Ohio State target and Georgia signee — last season.