The Hurry Up: Cornerback R.J. Mickens Will Attend Friday Night Lights While Athlete Peyton Powell, Defensive End David Ojabo Include Ohio State Among Top Schools

By Andrew Lind on June 19, 2018 at 6:50 pm
R.J. Mickens
R.J. Mickens

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.


Southlake, Texas, Carroll five-star cornerback R.J. Mickens told Eleven Warriors he’ll visit Ohio State for the first time for Friday Night Lights this weekend. He’ll make the trip with his father, former NFL cornerback Ray Mickens.

“[I’m looking forward to] just seeing the whole thing,” Mickens said. “I’ve never been.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Mickens is considered the fifth-best cornerback and No. 41 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, as he recorded 99 tackles, 13 pass break ups, four forced fumbles, three tackles for a loss, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a pick-six to lead the Dragons to the state quarterfinals last season. He holds more than two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, Texas A&M and UCLA.

Wide receivers coach Zach Smith extended a scholarship offer to Mickens back in mid-April, and he’s since developed a relationship with offensive coordinator/area recruiter Kevin Wilson and co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Alex Grinch.

“It’s grown a lot, and I talk to the coaches every couple or so days,” Mickens said.

Working in the Buckeyes' favor here is that Mickens is close with sophomore cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, as the two trained together when the latter was in high school.


St. Louis De Set Jesuit four-star wide receiver Jordan Johnson announced on Twitter Tuesday afternoon he’ll also attend Friday Night Lights. He’ll be joining a large contingent of prospects from the Show Me State, including four-star wide receivers Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams.

The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Johnson is considered the 14th-best wide receiver and No. 68 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, as he hauled in 26 receptions for 650 yards and nine touchdowns for the Spartans last season. He holds nearly two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

This will be Johnson’s first time on campus, something he’s been looking forward to since the aforementioned Grinch offered him a scholarship in late April.


Ohio State hosted a number of prospects from Cincinnati Princeton for its one-day camp on Saturday afternoon, including four-star defensive end Darrion Henry and three-star linebacker Jaheim Thomas.

“I liked it. It was very exciting," Thomas told reporters gathered afterward. “I learned a lot from the coaches, like staying locked on the hip and playing more inside.”

This marked the second time on campus for the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Thomas, who also visited with some of his teammates back in February. And though the Buckeyes haven’t offered yet, he’s building a strong relationship with head coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and linebacker coach Bill Davis.

“I’m getting to know them a little better and them getting to know me a little better,” Thomas said. “[Davis] wants to see me gain more weight and get faster before they would offer, but he said they're very interested in me.”

Thomas received instruction from Davis during the camp and got some one-on-one time with Meyer afterward.

“He talked to me about the rings, how they’re going to recruit me really hard and how they have high interest in me,” Thomas said.

Thomas — who is considered the 25th-best outside linebacker and No. 350 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, as he recorded 20 tackles, three sacks and one interceptions for the Vikings last season — holds nearly 20 offers from programs such as Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Purdue and Wisconsin. As an Ohio kid, though, there’s no doubt Ohio State would shoot to the top of the list if the staff offered.

“I’m pretty sure it’s coming soon,” Thomas said. “I think they want to evaluate my film from today and then offer. It would be great. All of my hard work would be paying off.”

Thomas plans to cut his list to a Top 12 in the near future, but notes the Buckeyes, Panthers and Wolverines are among those standing out early in the process. He wants to make a decision on National Signing Day in February 2020.


Odessa, Texas, Permian three-star athlete Peyton Powell included Ohio State in his Top 10 on Monday night alongside Arkansas, Baylor, Illinois, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Virginia.

“It’s one of the best schools and the coaching staff is one of the best,” Powell told Eleven Warriors.

The 6-foot-2, 182-pound Powell is considered the 38th-best athlete and No. 444 prospect overall in the Class of 2019, though he accumulated more than 5,600 all-purpose yards and 74 touchdowns in his two-year career as the starting quarterback at Midland Christian. He transferred to Permian — which you may recall was the focus of the 1990 book and 2004 movie “Friday Night Lights” — back in January.

Powell has never been to campus, but is finalizing plans to attend Friday Night Lights, naturally. The Buckeyes are recruiting him as a defensive back, but the staff has also had discussions about utilizing him on the offensive side of the ball.

“All of them, really,” Powell said when asked which coaches he speaks with.

Powell wants to play quarterback at the next level and admits distance will play a factor in his recruitment, so that doesn’t bode well for Ohio State’s chances in the long run. He also plans to make a decision before the start of his senior season.


Blairstown, New Jersey, Blair Academy three-star defensive end David Ojabo listed Ohio State in his Top 15 on Monday afternoon alongside Boston College, California, Clemson, Duke, Harvard, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Penn, Penn State, Rutgers, Syracuse, Texas A&M and Virginia.

The 6-foot-5, 233-pound Ojabo is considered the 32nd-best strong-side defensive end and No. 489  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 with the Buccaneers last season.

That’s the extent of Ojabo’s experience playing organized football, who was born in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 2016 to play basketball and soccer. He put on a helmet for the first time last August, yet 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’s storybook rise from unknown to highly sought-after prospect is reminiscent of his former teammate, Jayson Oweh, who was one of the Buckeyes’ top defensive end targets before he signed with Penn State last December. Similarly, he’s grown extremely close to Schiano and defensive line coach Larry Johnson since they offered in May.

Ojabo actually made his first trip to campus today, and I’m looking forward to catching up with him in the coming days.

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