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.
THE QUIET LEADER
Though he’ll be the first to admit he’s not really the outspoken, rah-rah type, Ohio State four-star offensive guard commit Doug Nester has welcomed the challenge of being a senior leader at Huntington, West Virginia, Spring Valley this fall.
The Timberwolves have their sights set on a third-consecutive state championship game appearance, and they’ll go 6-foot-6 and 315-pound Nester takes them.
"Doug taking the leadership role he has this year is really exciting to see," Spring Valley offensive line coach Brent Terry told The Herald-Dispatch. "He's grown leaps and bounds from his first couple of games here. He's taken gigantic strides. But when he first got here he'd gone from playing in eighth grade to playing [against] Huntington High. It was a faster game and the terminology was all new to him. Now, he's a big influence on the guys. He helps the guys around him."
Spring Valley opens its season against Wayne on Aug. 24, with the season finale against Huntington and five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright scheduled for Nov. 2. Nester, meanwhile, will conclude his high school career in the All-American Bowl Presented by American Family Insurance on Jan. 5, 2018, before heading to Columbus as an early enrollee the following week.
Avon, Indiana — much like Spring Valley — will rely heavily upon the run game this fall, a group led by Ohio State four-star running back commit Sampson James.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound James rushed for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns last season to lead the Orioles to the state semifinals last season, but the team starts out this year’s campaign as the second-ranked team in Class 6A and as one of the favorites to reach the title game.
If James — the eighth-best running back and No. 158 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 — continues his upward trajectory, Avon should achieve its goals this season.
“Sampson was more of a basketball-minded athlete early on, but I think when he was up with us as a freshman and got some carries during our semi-state run, it really electrified him for football,” Orioles head coach Mark Bless told 1070 The Fan. “When he rotated in with [now-Indiana Hoosiers safety] Bryant Fitzgerald as a sophomore, he was more of a downhill runner with not a lot of shake. He broke out last year, with more elusiveness and breakaway speed. He’s really picked up his leadership ability this year.”
Seeing as he’s come from a long line of Division I athletes, it should be no surprise James’ younger brother, Nathaniel, is also expected to make an impact for Avon this fall as the Orioles’ starting defensive tackle. The 6-foot, 225-pounder junior has yet to land an offer from Ohio State, but it’s possible we’re looking at the next set of brothers to play for the Buckeyes.
“He’s been our strongest player, but what’s caught our eye is how fast he is now,” Bless said. “He’s an explosive young man who started every game last year as a sophomore, maybe overwhelmed at times, but I think the game has slowed down for him, so he can play with more confidence and use his tools of strength and speed.”
Ohio State is hoping to land at least three more wide receivers this cycle to complement five-star commit Garrett Wilson, and one prospect who I believe will eventually take one of those spots is Frankfort, Kentucky, Western Hills four-star Wandale Robinson.
Standing just 5-foot-10 and 179 pounds, Robinson isn’t the most physically imposing prospect, but he flat out takes over games at the high school level (totaling 7,341 total yards and 85 touchdowns in three seasons). It’s something he’s been doing since he was 5 years old — and using another child’s name and birth certificate to play in a league for kids ages six and up.
“Since he started walking they have called him speedy,” Robinson’s mother, Vicki Davis, told the Lexington Herald Leader. “He used to give my cousin a hard time ‘cause he was so fast and he would do anything. I would be like, ‘He’s all right, calm down, what’s the problem?’ I think he might have been ahead of schedule.”
Robinson — who recently listed Ohio State in his Top 6 alongside Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska and Purdue — is named after his father, but grew up largely without him; Charles Dale Robinson served nearly a dozen years in prison for drug charges and conspiracy charges related to the trafficking of cocaine. He was released just as his son entered high school, and developed into one of the nation’s top-rated prospects.
“He’s always been the guy that’s like, ‘This is what I did, don’t mess up like I did,’” the younger Robinson said. “Everybody that looks at him now is like, ‘You have the perfect dad and yada yada yada,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, now he’s the perfect dad,’ but most people don’t know what happened before. But I love him to death. I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He’s always helped me through everything and definitely some of the choices I’ve made I wouldn’t have made if he wasn’t in my life. I wouldn’t have known, ‘Don’t do this,’ if he wasn’t in my life. The mistakes that he made helped me.”
Robinson’s mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 25 and fibromyalgia earlier this year, so Robinson has certainly dealt with a lot in his 17 years. She’ll be on his mind when he makes his college decision in late September or early October, which will most likely follow an official visit to Columbus this fall.
“Once I got old enough and realized football is something I can use to give my mom everything she wants and everything we’ve talked about, that’s why I play football,” Robinson said. “All for my mom.”
Without question, it's easy to see why the Buckeyes want Robinson on their team and as a representative of their university.
SHUFFLE THE DECK
Rivals released its latest batch of rankings for the Class of 2019 on Wednesday morning, marking the recruiting service’s first update since the spring.
— Josh Helmholdt (@JoshHelmholdt) August 15, 2018
Events such as one-day camps, The Opening Finals and the Rivals Five-Star Challenge made a significant impact on the new rankings, which is why there’s been quite a bit of movement with a number of Ohio State targets. That includes Georgia four-star center Harry Miller, who rose 18 spots to No. 43 overall following his MVP performance in Dallas, and the aforementioned Nester, who dropped 19 spots to No. 145 after an up-and-down showing that same week.
You can see where the Buckeyes’ pledges stack up in the Rivals250 (and, by comparison, their 247Sports Composite Rankings) below. The list only goes to the Top 250 prospects, of course, so some are not ranked.
- No. 43 (36) - Miller
- No. 44 (14) - Wilson
- No. 90 (252) - Michigan four-star quarterback Dwan Mathis
- No. 140 (137) - Lexington four-star linebacker Cade Stover
- No. 145 (65) - Nester
- No. 172 (158) - James
- No. 189 (162) - Florida four-star cornerback Jordan Battle
- No. 193 (124) - New Jersey four-star safety “Rocket” Ronnie Hickman
- No. 244 (718) - Tennessee four-star tight end Cormontae Hamilton
- NR (197) - Tennessee four-star linebacker Kane Patterson
- NR (240) - Georgia four-star running back Steele Chambers
- NR (290) - Mentor four-star offensive guard Ryan Jacoby
- NR (325) - Mentor four-star defensive end Noah Potter
- NR (533) - Indiana three-star athlete Craig Young
- NR (614) - Maryland three-star safety Bryson Shaw
Ohio State sits 13th in recruiting service’s team rankings — trailing No. 10 Michigan in the Big Ten standings — despite the fact that only six programs have more commits among the Rivals250 than the Buckeyes (9).