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.
NEXT MAN UP
This morning, Ohio State named Brian Hartline as its interim wide receivers coach. The news comes just days after the Buckeyes fired long-time assistant Zach Smith.
The 31-year-old Hartline — who played wide receiver at Ohio State from 2005-08 — is just a few seasons removed from a seven-year stint in the NFL. Though he’s never been a full-time coach or recruiting off campus on behalf of the Buckeyes, those credentials will certainly help him when he hits the road for the first time when the quiet period comes to a close next week.
Furthermore, his time with the Miami Dolphins will help his transition into Smith’s former role as the main recruiter for South Florida. He doesn’t have the relationships with administrators or coaches, but his name will carry weight recognition in Broward and Dade counties. He'll have some catching up to do in St. Louis and Virginia Beach, however — that is, so long as the staff doesn't shift its target areas in the coming weeks to supplement Smith's departure.
Hiring Hartline was an obvious move for Ohio State, given how close we are to camp (Aug. 3), but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s on and interim basis first and foremost.
Essentially, this will serve as a likely season-long audition — on the field and on the recruiting trail — for Hartline. I think he’ll do well in the short term as the Buckeyes look to add three more wide receivers this cycle, but the production of his unit and the relationships he builds moving forward will dictate whether or not the interim tag is ultimately removed.
ON THE WRIGHT TRACK
To no one’s surprise, Huntington, West Virginia, five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright included Ohio State in his Top 10 on Thursday afternoon alongside Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Miami, North Carolina, Penn State, USC and Tennessee.
If you were wondering... pic.twitter.com/xniYWfOHq2— Darnell Wright (@darnell_5232) July 26, 2018
The 6-foot-6, 310-pound Wright — who is considered the second-best offensive tackle and No. 9 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — has been to Columbus at least four times in the last year. That includes an unannounced unofficial visit in late June, otherwise known as the final weekend before college football’s month-long recruiting dead period.
“[I’m] just building relationships because I only get to see the coaches and the players a couple times,” Wright told Eleven Warriors during The Opening Finals earlier this month, noting he spent most of his time that day with head coach Urban Meyer and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa. “I gotta get a feel for everybody. Just try to get down there and see what kind of people they are. Coach Stud is a really cool coach. He’s got a lot of energy all the time, but Real Life Wednesdays is really the thing that stands out.”
Offensive tackle remains the staff’s top priority for the current recruiting cycle — and maybe even for the foreseeable future — so landing a prospect of Wright’s caliber to complement commits Harry Miller, Ryan Jacoby and Doug Nester would certainly help ease some of those concerns moving forward. The Buckeyes rivalry with Nester, who attends a high school across town, getting in the way, either.
“I didn’t want to go there because he was there. He was already committed, I didn’t want it to be [perceived] like I just followed him or something. Just stupid little thoughts,” Wright said. “It’s a good rivalry and we had a couple words [in the past], but I think I’ve matured enough to where I don’t think I need to not go somewhere because he’s there. It doesn’t really matter to me anymore.”
The Crimson Tide and Volunteers are perceived to be the biggest threats for Wright, especially given his head coach is reportedly a big fan of the latter. But three’s a long way to go in his recruitment, and he’ll take all five official visits before he chooses a school late in the process.
“I’m looking for somewhere that I can get in and player early and somewhere I can get developed,” Wright said.
ACADEMICS ARE KEY
With the dead period lifted, Ohio State welcomed Washington D.C. Sidwell Friends School three-star offensive tackle Walter Rouse and his mother to campus for an unofficial visit on Wednesday.
“The trip was amazing,” Rouse told Eleven Warriors. “I had a great time.”
A family emergency delayed the start of his visit, but the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Rouse arrived in the early afternoon and was still able to see everything the program and university had to offer.
“We started with a general meeting with coaches and then headed off to check out academics,” Rouse said. “They knew of my interest in medicine and engineering, so I had the opportunity to meet with and tour [the hospital] with Dr. [Andrew] Thomas, who is the chief medical officer, and his colleagues, Dr. [Ernest] Mazzaferri and Dr. [Bryan] Whitson, in addition to meeting the director of admission for the medical school.”
Rouse was thrilled with the opportunity to ask questions about what it’s like to be a pre-med student-athlete.
“They all agreed that it would be challenging and a lot of hard work, but working with academic support, knowing the number of classes/labs and summer class structures, it is possible,” he said. “They gave numerous examples of former players and current guys doing it. We discussed early engagement and how being involved from your freshman year and different ways to approach the program.”
Academics are certainly going to play a large role in Rouse’s recruitment, as evidenced by his Top 10 list that also includes Duke, Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Virginia and Yale. He barely even talked about football with Meyer and Studrawa, who also had assistant director of creative media Samuel Silverman give a presentation on what Ohio State can do for his brand, on and off the field.
“Just learning how they assist players with there own individual brand while in school and afterwards [was great],” Rouse said. “The visit helped me check a lot of my own boxes about the academics; program; interaction with coaches and players; and get a feel for if I could see myself on campus in the classrooms and in the locker room. I am looking to be apart of a great academic institution and a winning program that is competing for a national title; to be surrounded by like-minded individuals; and in a program that will continue to develop me both on the field and off the field.”
The day concluded with a tour of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and dinner with the coaching staff, their wives and freshmen offensive tackles Nicholas Petit-Frere and Max Wray.
“I was impressed,” Rouse said, noting he plans to return to campus for a game in September.