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.
FIREWORKS TURNING INTO A DUD
The month of August was shaping up to be a booming month for Ohio State, with Missouri four-star wide receiver Marcus Washington and Texas four-star athlete Peyton Powell set to make their college announcements on Aug. 7 and 13, respectively.
Olentangy Orange five-star defensive end Zach Harrison also hoped to come to a decision by his birthday, Aug. 14, but things have changed drastically in the last week or so for all three prospects.
Washington, who hails from St. Louis, was exceptionally close to former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who was fired last week amid domestic abuse allegations. And with Brian Hartline stepping in on an interim basis, it appears there has been a bit of reshuffling in terms of Ohio State’s top priorities at the position.
Sources close to Washington have indicated the Buckeyes were his choice all along, but Smith was unfortunately one of, if not the only staff member pushing for his pledge — hence his uncertainty at The Opening Finals in Dallas earlier this month regarding a firm decision date.
Had Smith remained Ohio State’s wide receivers coach, I believe Washington would have ultimately ended up at Ohio State. Instead, Hartline and the Buckeyes have seemingly shifted their priorities to Missouri four-star Jameson Williams and Texas four-star Elijah Higgins, and have also shown renewed interest in Indiana four-star David Bell.
You can throw in Kentucky four-star all-purpose back Wandale Robinson, too, since the staff views him as a slot receiver and returner, though his pledge would have no impact on Ohio State’s pursuit of the others.
As for Washington, I switched my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction this evening in favor of the home-state Tigers.
All signs continue to point to Powell picking the Buckeyes, meanwhile, but there’s one team that could certainly throw a wrench into those plans in the coming week.
Powell, who took an official visit to Columbus last month, received an offer from Oklahoma on Monday afternoon. And though he’s never been to Norman, he’s the cousin of New York Giants — and former Sooners — wide receiver Sterling Shepard.
If he visits Oklahoma in the coming weeks or he delays his decision, things could get interesting. The staff would go all-in on Florida four-star Kaiir Elam at that point.
Last but not least, Harrison has long said if he’s unable to come to a decision by his birthday, he’ll simply hold off. I mentioned last week that it was the likeliest scenario, as sources indicated he remains torn among his three finalists (Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State), and he confirmed as much in an interview with ABC6’s Clay Hall on Monday morning.
“I want to go to all three schools very badly,” Harrison said.
Ohio State has been considered the favorite in Harrison’s recruitment throughout the process, since he lives a mere 20 miles north of campus. But official visits to Michigan and Penn State in the spring — and the idea of moving away from home — has put the Wolverines and Nittany Lions neck-and-neck with the Buckeyes. In fact, Harrison told Eleven Warriors during The Opening Finals that he was more confused than he’s ever been.
“I have everything I need. I just gotta sit down and work it all out,” he said. “If I knew the answer, I’d be committed by now. I have no idea.”
With no decision in sight, Harrison will likely take unofficial visits to all three schools in the fall. Ohio State plays at Penn State and hosts Michigan, while the Wolverines host the Nittany Lions — all three games would be a perfect opportunity to see his finalists up close once again.
Surely, his altered timeline is a concern for the staff, who hoped to secure his pledge before the season starts. Instead, they’ll simply have to wait for him to figure out what he wants to do.
In the end, I continue to believe Harrison will end up at Ohio State. The opportunity to play for and learn from defensive line coach Larry Johnson is difficult for any prospect to turn down, but — then again — maybe things aren’t as cut-and-dried as we all once believed...
Parkersburg, West Virginia, three-star tight end Brenton Strange included Ohio State in his Top 8 on Tuesday afternoon alongside Louisville, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers and Wake Forest.
“It’s Ohio State,” Strange told Eleven Warriors. “They have one of the best programs in the nation. I also have a good relationship with coach [Kevin] Wilson and coach [Urban] Meyer.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Strange visited campus for the first time in early June, at which time he was invited by the staff to attend a one-day camp a little over a week later. After working out with Wilson, he earned an offer from the Buckeyes.
“It was fun,” Strange said. “Coach Wilson and I got to work together at camp, then he and his wife showed me and my mom the campus and the football facilities.”
Ohio State immediately became the favorite in Strange’s recruitment as a result of the offer, but a commitment from Tennessee three-star tight end Cormontae Hamilton on Friday seemingly ended any chance of him playing his college ball in Columbus. Choosing between the two prospects was difficult, seeing as Strange is four inches taller, 50 pounds lighter and plays receiver at the high school level, while Hamilton is more of a blocking tight end with a lot of potential in the passing game. The staff obviously believes the latter will be a better complementary piece to freshman Jeremy Ruckert moving forward.
That said, Ohio State has still left the door slightly ajar for Strange. The staff kept him in the loop regarding Hamilton’s decision, and his receiving skills could help offset some of the uncertainty at wideout in the short term.
“Wilson told me weeks before that they had a guy that wanted to commit and that him and coach Meyer still wanted me to be a Buckeye,” Strange said.
I think that’s unlikely, though, which is why I recently switched my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction to Penn State — before he even camped with and earned an offer from the Nittany Lions over the weekend.