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.
HE'S GOT NEXT
Ohio State leads the nation with five defensive backs selected in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last three years, a statistic not lost on Southlake, Texas, Carroll four-star cornerback R.J. Mickens.
“I really like Ohio State,” Mickens told Eleven Warriors. “They have a great history of really putting defensive backs in the league.”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Mickens — who is considered the fifth-best cornerback and No. 36 prospect overall in the Class of 2020 — has been paying close attention to the program from afar, but finally got his first chance to see campus when he attended the Buckeyes’ annual Friday Night Lights recruiting camp this weekend.
“It was very fun,” Mickens said. “The coaches, really, and the winning tradition [stand out]. I got to sit down with the coaches and just talk about my plan and football up there.”
Mickens spent time with head coach Urban Meyer, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson. He also caught up with his good friend and one-time training partner Jeffrey Okudah, as well as fellow Texas native Kendall Sheffield.
“They told me they’re going to take care of me if I come and get me right,” Mickens said.
Following a stellar sophomore season in which 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, Mickens holds more than two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, Texas A&M and UCLA. He admitted the Buckeyes are at the top of his list, though.
“I really like Ohio State,” he said, noting he looks forward to returning to campus for a game this fall.
Jacksonville Trinity Christian four-star cornerback Miles Brooks had a similar experience this weekend, though he did not work out at Friday Night Lights.
Instead, he watched the Buckeyes’ team workout that afternoon; hung out with Meyer, Schiano and Johnson; and was reunited with a pair of former teammates in cornerbacks Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson.
“My first trip to Columbus was great,” Brooks told Eleven Warriors. “I loved the experience and had a great time seeing campus, other recruits and the staff. I got to see how they like to run things up there. Their message to me was what they want to do with me and how I could fit in and be one of the next great defensive backs out of there.”
The 6-foot-2, 171-pound Brooks is considered the 16th-best cornerback and No. 179 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, as he recorded 23 tackles, four pass break ups and a forced fumble playing opposite of Johnson last season. He holds more than a dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, UCLA and Virginia Tech, with Ohio State following suit this weekend.
“It means a lot,” Brooks said. “First, I’m blessed because that’s been a long-time dream and goal to get an offer from them. It’s also exciting because they believe that I can step in and be a part of their tradition with defensive backs there.”
Much like Mickens above, Brooks can’t wait to get back to campus. He doesn’t have a specific date in mind, but acknowledged the Buckeyes are going to be hard to beat in his recruitment moving forward.
Ohio State may have opened the floodgates to Texas when it landed the aforementioned Okudah and Sheffield — as well as running back J.K. Dobbins and linebacker Baron Browning — during the 2017 cycle. And how their respective careers unfold may ultimately persuade a few more prospects from the Lone Star State to become Buckeyes down the road.
The staff made its play for another Texas cornerback this weekend when they offered a scholarship to Cibolo Steele four-star Jaylon Jones during his unofficial visit for Friday Night Lights.
“It’s amazing,” Jones told Eleven Warriors. “Very shocking, but exciting. Getting [the opportunity] to go to a program that wins at all times is big for me.”
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound Jones is considered the 17th-best cornerback and No. 201 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, as he recorded 31 tackles, two interceptions, two tackles for a loss, two pass break ups and one forced fumble to lead the Knights to the state quarterfinals last season. He holds double-digit offers from programs such as Baylor, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Houston, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M.
While on campus, Jones worked directly with the above-mentioned Johnson. He also spent some one-on-one time with co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and defensive quality control coach Matt Thurin.
“[They told me to] just to keep working,” Jones said. “I mean, any and everybody has something to improve every day, so just to keep working on my craft.”
Jones actually went to school with four-star defensive back Lejond Cavazos, though he transferred to IMG Academy after their freshman season together. That certainly bodes well for Ohio State, since Cavazos is on the verge of committing to the Buckeyes on Wednesday evening.
Though he didn’t participate in Friday Night Lights either, Akron Archbishop Hoban four-star athlete DeaMonte Trayanum made the two-hour trip to Columbus that evening to spend some valuable time with the coaching staff ahead of the recruiting dead period.
Through July 24, coaches are not permitted to have face-to-face contact with recruits or their parents or visit their high school. So with that looming, Trayanum was seemingly attached to Meyer and running backs coach Tony Alford’s hips all evening.
“They were telling me more about the program and the after-football opportunities, job-wise,” Trayanum told Eleven Warriors.
This marked the second trip to campus for the 5-foot-11, 215-pound Trayanum, who became just the second in-state prospect to earn an offer from the Class of 2020 back in January — Cincinnati St. Xavier four-star offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr was the first. He’s since been joined by Cincinnati Princeton four-star defensive end Darrion Henry and Dublin Coffman four-star athlete Michael Drennen II, but noted he’s in no hurry to make a decision on his future.
Trayanum also holds offers from Boston College, Michigan, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Toledo and West Virginia, and is simply enjoying the process and all that it entails for now.
“I want my relationship with the coaches to get better,” Trayanum said, noting he plans to return for the season opener against Oregon State on Sept. 1.
IT'S BEEN A WHILE
Ohio State has signed just one scholarship player from the state of Washington, running back Kevin Griffin from Kirkland Juanita in 1994. The Buckeyes made their play for a second on Sunday night when the staff extended a scholarship offer to Seattle Garfield five-star linebacker Sav’ell Smalls.
“I wasn’t even expecting the offer,” Smalls told Eleven Warriors, noting he called director of player personnel Mark Pantoni just to relay his interest in the program. “I just wanted to let him know my interest is real. I was like, ‘Oh, wow!’ It’s great.”
The 6-foot-3, 227-pound Smalls is considered the top-rated outside linebacker and No. 3 prospect overall in the Class of 2020, as he recorded 90 tackles and nine sacks for the Bulldogs last season to be named their league’s most valuable player. He holds nearly two dozen offers from programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC and Washington, but Ohio State holds a special card in its back pocket.
Smalls’ mother is actually from Cleveland, but moved to the Pacific Northwest when she was in elementary school. Several family members remain in the area, and they’re all huge fans of the Buckeyes.
“[Pantoni] told me they don’t really offer West Coast players like that. To think I’m someone who would come to Columbus to play is great,” Smalls said. “There’s a lot of tradition there, and just the opportunity to play in front that side of my family is huge.”
Smalls will be back in Ohio in two weeks to visit that family, but won’t be able to stop by campus or meet with the coaches because of the aforementioned dead period. He plans to return for a game in the fall, however.