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.
Despite head coach Urban Meyer being placed on paid administrative leave as the university investigates his knowledge of and actions regarding the domestic dispute allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, not a single Ohio State pledge has wavered in his commitment thus far.
Most are taking a wait-and-see approach as the investigative firm and board of trustees work toward a decision by the end of the week, including Austin, Texas, Lake Travis five-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson.
“I talked to my mom yesterday and said, ‘I don’t know why stuff like this happens.’ She was like, ‘Welcome to life,” Wilson told Austin NBC affiliate KXAN-TV. “Some things go wrong and not everything is going to go right. At the end of the day, I feel those kids are going to come back stronger after this. Coach Meyer is going to come back stronger and they’re going to win a [national championship] this year.”
Wilson, who picked the Buckeyes over the home-state Longhorns back in April, unfortunately found himself in the middle of the situation over the weekend when it was reported that Texas head coach Tom Herman and his wife, Michelle, encouraged Smith’s ex-wife, Courtney, to come forward with the allegations against her husband with the goal of getting him fired — a claim which Herman has since denied. Smith was Wilson’s primary recruiter and would have been his position coach in Columbus.
“It’s something you’d rather not have happening right now, but going into the season, I’m trying to focus on my teammates,” said Wilson, who shared that he was ’sick’ in a since-deleted tweet after the news broke on Saturday afternoon. “I owe that to them, and they expect that out of me. I’m 100 percent with my teammates right now and I’ll worry about that whenever they get it all figured out. As of right now, I’m a Buckeye, you know?”
If Meyer is ultimately not retained, Wilson has acknowledged he may look around at other schools. But it’s worth noting that acting head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Ryan Day played an integral role in landing the Dublin native’s commitment, as well.
Had Odessa, Texas, Permian four-star athlete Peyton Powell stuck with his original timeline, he would have most likely committed to Ohio State this afternoon.
He instead delayed his college decision amid a recent offer from Oklahoma and the uncertainty surrounding Meyer’s future, citing a desire to focus on his senior season for the timing being. After about a week of reflection, though, it appears Powell has set a new decision date, Sept. 26.
New avi by my guy. off twitter till the commitment.. 9/26/00 pic.twitter.com/d1yR7dkMMO— [P] (@PPowell_) August 11, 2018
The 6-foot-2 and 182-pound Powell — who took an official visit with the Buckeyes clear back in late June — will be at the Sooners’ season opener against Florida Atlantic. He’s never been to Norman, but proximity and family ties (his cousin is former wide receiver Sterling Shepard) seemingly give the program quite an advantage in his recruitment.
Powell’s new date certainly gives the situation at Ohio State a chance to play out and the program a chance to get him back on campus, albeit in an unofficial capacity. That means he’d have to make the trip to Columbus on his own dime, an unlikely proposition given the logistical difficulties of playing a game on Friday night and traveling to campus for a noon or 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
The Buckeyes can still invite Powell to attend the AdvoCare Showdown at AT&T Stadium against TCU — since each school is provided with a small number of tickets for neutral-site games — but coaches are not allowed to have contact with recruits in an off-campus setting. So let’s be honest, that’s not going to help.
All that said, I flipped my 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction to Oklahoma this afternoon. Ohio State will now focus all of its efforts on Florida four-star Kaiir Elam, whose family has a strong bond with Meyer dating back to his days as an assistant at Notre Dame and the head coach at Florida.
Similarly, Olentangy Orange five-star defensive end Zach Harrison hoped to choose among Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State by tomorrow, Aug. 14 — which is also his 17th birthday.
Unable to decide, however, Harrison will simply take his time with the recruiting process and make his college announcement whenever he’s 100 percent certain of which school he’ll attend.
We’ve reported quite a bit on Harrison over the last year or so, but there’s no denying his recruitment is an outlier in the world of social media, where prospects seemingly have a new list of top schools every day. It’s all something he’d rather avoid.
Locally, the interest in their son has escalated over the past two years. In a state that has grown accustomed to the success of Ohio State, Harrison's recruitment has become a story being followed by more than just recruitniks and Buckeyes diehards.Harrison has done little to fan these flames, hoping to maintain as low a profile as possible. In fact, unlike many recruits seeking attention and hoping to grow their Twitter followers, Harrison is trying to stay under the radar.
"It's obviously a blessing," he says. "I love football, and I will be able to play at the next level. I get to meet all these new people. But you want to do that so much you kind of lose sight of being a kid."
He's not on Facebook. His Twitter page is protected. His Instagram is private. He keeps his Snapchat handle concealed from everyone but his inner circle.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Zach and his family over the last two years, and though he was pretty quiet when we first met, he’s opened up quite a bit recently.
That said, it’s impossible to know exactly what Harrison — who will visit all three finalists again this fall — is thinking when it comes to the recruiting process. He keeps things extremely close to the vest, and when it’s time, he’ll simply call the coaches and then tweet his decision.
Until then, let's stop speculating, shall we?