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.
DO THEY TAKE TWO?
Ohio State may have flipped Michigan State four-star commit Dwan Mathis this evening, but also made a lasting impression on Ocala, Florida, West Port three-star Brian Maurer during his unofficial visit for Friday Night Lights.
“It was a great experience,” Maurer told reporters gathered outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that evening. “Coach [Urban] Meyer and coach [Ryan] Day do a great job recruiting. You can see why Ohio State is one of the top schools in the nation. Academics, they do a great job here and they obviously do a great job here in football. Ohio State is a great feeling and a great place to be.”
There’s no doubt the offer is a game-changer for Maurer, who is considered the 18th-best pro-style quarterback and No. 491 prospect overall in the Class of 2019. He’s also considering Tennessee and West Virginia, but certainly understands the opportunity awaiting in Columbus.
“I’d come in in a great spot,” Maurer said, noting how the Buckeyes have just three scholarship signal callers on the roster in redshirt sophomore Dwayne Haskins, redshirt freshman Tate Martell and true freshman Matthew Baldwin. “No matter where I go, I know there’s going to be guys older and ahead of me. I have to go in with the mindset that I’m better than them and can win the job.”
Maurer, as I’ve noted previously, is among the most underrated prospects in the country. His size, arm strength and athleticism were on display earlier this spring at the Elite 11 Finals, and he was one of just a dozen signal callers invited to The Opening Finals.
“I think I just slipped through the cracks a bit because the school I go to isn’t really known for sports. It’s known for performing arts,” Maurer said, noting only a handful of the kids at West Port — which is actually among the biggest schools in the state — play football. “I think the Elite 11 really opened people’s eyes to a kid who’s not really been highly recruited or exposed yet. I’m still very raw in my mechanics and what I can learn.”
Maurer felt he performed well on Friday night for Meyer and Day, but admitted there was a lot of pressure on him. It was truly a make-or-break opportunity to land an offer.
“As a quarterback, you have to learn how to perform in big-pressure situations,” Maurer said. “Having one of the greatest coaches in the nation and one of the greatest coaches ever at your back, watching every move you do and every mechanic is definitely a lot of pressure. But, again, you have to play under pressure — especially at Ohio State.”
Maurer plans to sit down with his head coach and discuss the pros and cons of each school that’s offered him. He hoped to release a Top 5 and could make a decision soon thereafter. I felt great about the Buckeyes’ chances prior to tonight's news.
IT'S MILLER TIME
Maurer was clear he's not afraid of any potential competition, but I'm not sure Ohio State will take two quarterbacks this year. Not with Scottsdale, Arizona, Chaparral four-star Jack Miller III closing in on a commitment, as well.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Miller — who is considered the third-best pro-style quarterback and No. 49 prospect overall in the Class of 2020 — was on campus for Friday Night Lights, his third visit since Ohio State offered last spring.
“It was awesome. I had a lot of fun,” Miller told reporters after the event. “I had a couple of good throws with a lot of good players out there tonight. I really love it here. Today really kind of cemented how great they are with just how much they’re willing to spend with me and invest in me.”
Miller worked closely with Meyer and Day, and even shared a hug with the latter as he departed the Buckeyes’ practice facility.
“He’s awesome. I love him so much,” Miller said. “He’s such a great coach. He knows a lot about football, too. We were up on the board today with him explaining defenses and concepts. You’re always going to have a place to throw the ball no matter what the defense does. I love that.”
Ohio State long been considered the favorite to land Miller, since his family has a long-established relationship with Meyer. Miller's father is the general manager at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort where the Buckeyes stayed during their last two trips to the Fiesta Bowl. Friday’s visit, meanwhile, was the first visit for his mother and sisters.
“Everything [stands out],” Miller said. “The culture, the coaching staff, the great players they draw in and my chance for life after football. They have a great program going on. I love everything about it.”
Miller also visited Michigan and Michigan State earlier in the week and traveled to Alabama on Saturday, with plans to announce a commitment in the coming weeks. He actually suffered a Freudian slip when talking about the Wolverines, referring to them as ‘That Team Up North,’ suggesting he’s already made up his mind.
“I want to commit soon just so I can start building on my class, for sure,” Miller said. “Like [IMG Academy four-star defensive back] Lejond Cavazos, [Pennsylvania five-star wide receiver] Julian Fleming and [California five-star running back] Kendall Milton. My teammate [four-star running back] Darvon [Hubbard], too. I have a lot of guys in mind.”
IT'S GOING TO BE LEJOND...WAIT FOR IT...ARY
Interestingly enough, the aforementioned Cavazos may beat Miller to the punch since he’s set to announce his commitment this Wednesday during the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas.
I will be announcing my commitment Wednesday, June 27th at 6:00pm Eastern Time.— Lejond Cavazos (@lejondaryy) June 24, 2018
The 6-foot, 186-pound Cavazos is considered the 11th-best safety and No. 212 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, though he’ll play cornerback at the next level. He recently announced a Top 10 that included Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Oregon, but his recruitment is viewed as a two-team battle between the Buckeyes and Bulldogs.
Cavazos was on campus with his parents and older sister for a one-day camp earlier this month, and you can read his first-hand account of the visit here. They followed that up with trips to Athens and Eugene, which suggest he too was closing in on a commitment.
Ohio State holds just one pledge for next cycle in Georgia four-star offensive tackle Jake Wray, but I anticipate he’ll soon have some company.
Indianapolis Warren Central four-star David Bell also made the trip to Columbus on Saturday, though in an unofficial capacity.
“It went pretty good,” Bell told Eleven Warriors. “I just was shown some of the facility and I got to talk to coach Meyer and coach [Zach] Smith. I talked to [wide receiver and Indiana native] Austin Mack, too.”
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Bell has been to campus numerous times in the last year and a half, and recently included the Buckeyes in his Top 5 alongside Indiana, Iowa, Penn State and Purdue. He’s not particularly close to making a decision, so this visit offered the chance to spend some valuable time with the coaching staff.
“Coach Meyer just said if I have an opportunity to be great, why not come to Ohio State? He also said that I am predicted to start as a freshman if I attend there,” Bell said. “Coach Smith just told me how I would be used in the offense.”
With so many wide receivers on Ohio State’s board — and room for three more to complement five-star commit Garrett Wilson — Bell often seems overshadowed. That, plus the opportunity to play basketball at the next level in West Lafayette, has made the Boilermakers a trendy pick in his recruitment. But the staff reiterated this weekend that he’s one of their top-tier targets, which should put them back in the driver’s seat.
“It means a lot,” Bell said. “Just growing up always watching them on TV, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
Bell plans to return to campus for an official visit in the fall, but has no decision date in mind. He just knows he’d like to sign with the school of his choice in December.