11W Recruiting Mailbag: Wide Receiver Targets, Neutral-Site Games and Flip Candidates

By Andrew Lind on August 4, 2018 at 8:20 am
Dwan Mathis

Dwan Mathis

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The 11W Recruiting Mailbag is your one-stop shop for all things Ohio State recruiting. You have questions. We have answers.

With four-star wide receivers Marcus Washington and Jameson Williams both from St. Louis, do their recruitments impact one another? And, assuming Williams is still the second receiver in, who is most likely for number three at this point? - KansasBuckeye

Ohio State landed a pair of commits from St. Louis last year in four-star receivers Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown, and there’s no denying their relationship is what ultimately swung things in favor of the Buckeyes with the latter. But that said, Washington and Williams are a bit different because they don’t attend the same high school. 

They’re friends, of course, but they aren’t necessarily pushing for the other to end up in Columbus, too — especially since neither certain to do so in the first place. 

Washington, who recently announced he is pushing back his college decision and won’t announce on Aug. 7, is still heavily considering Ohio State despite the investigation into head coach Urban Meyer. I still believe that he wants to be a Buckeye when the situation is resolved, but Zach Smith’s firing reshuffled the staff’s priorities at the position — and he’s no longer at the top of the list.

That honor, of course, now belongs to Williams. Interim wide receivers coach Brian Hartline will make building a relationship with Williams his top priority moving forward, and I think the Buckeyes will continue to lead this race as a result. Oregon, which Williams has acknowledged as his dream school, is doing its best to make things interesting, however. 

Beyond that, there isn’t a specific list of priorities, despite the fact that Ohio State hopes to bring on four receivers this cycle. 

The Buckeyes remain heavily interested in California four-star Kyle Ford, but he’s never been to campus and will be a tough pull from the West Coast. He told Eleven Warriors he plans to take an official visit this fall, which gives the staff a small glimmer of hope. However, it’s highly unlikely he leaves the state for college.

Texas four-star Elijah Higgins is close with five-star commit Garrett Wilson and thoroughly enjoyed his official visit in June, but he’s a high-academic kid who is also considering Stanford. There are also questions about what type of role he would play within Ohio State’s offense, and he may honestly be better suited to play tight end at the next level. 

Indianapolis four-star David Bell is a very talented prospect who has never been shy about his affinity for the Buckeyes, but the staff never really made him a priority for one reason or another. Hartline’s promotion could revive that, but Ohio State may have fallen too far behind Penn State and Purdue at this point in his recruitment for it to matter. 

Kentucky four-star all-purpose back Wandale Robinson is a bit of a wild card here, since the Buckeyes are recruiting him primarily as a slot receiver and kick returner. He’s very talented, but his smaller stature makes him more of a complementary piece than anything else.

Robinson has already taken official visits to Michigan and Purdue and has trips to Alabama and Nebraska scheduled for early next month, leaving just one remaining as he heads toward a late September decision. If Ohio State has any chance, the staff needs to secure that final official visit and show they want him. 

There are clearly a lot of moving pieces at the position, and things aren’t as cut-and-dried as they once seemed. 

TCU is a neutral site game. Can Ohio State invite recruits? - Hetuck

Each school is provided with a small number of tickets for prospects at a neutral site game, but the coaches are not allowed to have contact with said recruits when they’re off campus. It’s somewhat similar to how Ohio State invited prospects to attend their Cotton Bowl practices in Dallas last year, but they had to watch from the stands. 

That said, it’s a little more advantageous for the Buckeyes than TCU, which gave up a home date to play at AT&T Stadium. Instead of  hosting dozens of recruits on their beautiful Fort Worth campus, the Horned Frogs will be restricted to a smaller guest list for what is arguably their biggest game of the season. 

Ohio State, meanwhile, simply replaced its half of the home-and-home with another non-conference game at Ohio Stadium next year. And not only will they undoubtedly host prospects that weekend, this trip to Texas will also give them an opportunity to show love to — and show out for — some of the Lone Star State’s best prospects. 

Moving forward, though, it would be much more beneficial if the Buckeyes schedule neutral site games against programs that recruit the same level of prospects. That way, there’s a better chance those prospects invited by the opponent also have a high interest in Ohio State, as well.

Who do you think will be the biggest surprise signing in the 2019 class? - 1MechEng

Something unexpected is certainly going to happen at wide receiver with the recent reshuffling of priorities at the position, but I’m going to avoid that unit since we talked about it above. Instead, I’m going to point to cornerback. 

Ohio State is looking to add just one more cornerback this cycle, and I anticipate the Buckeyes will land their man in a little under two weeks when Texas four-star athlete Peyton Powell announces his college decision on Aug. 13. But that said, the staff will always operate under the belief that some prospects are simply too talented to turn down, even if that means going above a target number at a certain position.

That’s where Florida four-star cornerback Kaiir Elam comes into the picture. He’s been to campus a handful of times and has a strong bond with head coach Urban Meyer, who recruited his father when he was at Notre Dame and his uncle when he was at Florida. It’s a two-horse race between the Buckeyes and Gators, but one I think the former can win thanks to those relationships and the staff's ability to develop first-round cornerbacks. 

Someone placed a 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction for quarterback commit Dwan Mathis to flip to Oregon. Do you think acting head coach Ryan Day — being his position coach and lead recruiter — will be able to keep him on board through all of this? - Gwolkoff5

Naturally, recruiting analysts from all corners of the country wrote articles discussing the impact Meyer’s paid leave of absence — or potential firing — would have on the respective schools they cover. It’s a bit premature to think any prospect would decommit from Ohio State or flip to another school before the dust settles on the situation, though.

As for Mathis, he told the Detroit Free Press this week that he will remain committed to the Buckeyes no matter what happens. 

“Whether he’s the coach or not, I’m committed Ohio State," Mathis said. “It’s not going to change anything with me. I just think it’s the best situation for me. Will wait and see what happens, but I’m still committed to Ohio State."

A lot of that, as you mentioned, has to do with the relationship formed with Day. He was the one who became enamored with Mathis during a one-day camp last summer and kept in contact throughout the process, even after he committed to Michigan State. Day was also the one who offered Mathis a scholarship this spring, and — to me — that is what would keep him committed through any coaching change.

As for Oregon, a reporter who covers the program predicted Mathis will end up with the Ducks on the same day the program watched its top target at the position, Michael Johnson Jr., commit to Penn State. Even though they’re looking to take two this cycle, it’s hard to envision Mathis — who has never even been to Eugene — leaving Columbus for even more competition elsewhere.

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