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.
Allow me to Introduce Myself
Hey, I'm the new Eleven Warriors football recruiting analyst, and this is the — from what I've heard — long-awaited Hurry Up.
This isn't my first time reporting on Big Ten recruiting. I spent about a year with Rivals in Bloomington covering Indiana recruiting while I was a senior in college. I graduated in May 2018 and have found myself back here, reporting on Big Ten recruiting once again. You can follow me on Twitter at @TaylorRLehman.
These Hurry Ups will be published once every evening, six days per week, where we'll summarize the happenings in Ohio State and Big Ten recruiting that day. As these go on and I root myself in Columbus a bit more, there will be more in-depth analysis and information.
For now, though, let's look ahead to the 2020 class.
The 2020 class
Ohio State is already sitting at No. 4 in the nation with its 2020 recruiting class under new head coach Ryan Day, thanks to big commitments from five-star Cincinnati offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. and four-star Arizona quarterback Jack Miller.
The Buckeyes have already totaled five four-star commits for the class and are heavy with offers in the positions of wide receiver, running back, offensive tackle and outside linebacker. This class should go back to what we are used to seeing with a signing day haul of 23-25 rather than the smaller 17 that we saw for 2019.
They're steadily adding more offers to the list as well, with two in consecutive days Tuesday and Wednesday.
Since National Signing Day on Feb. 6, Ohio State has extended two offers to 2020 recruits — four-star offensive tackle Tate Ratledge out of Rome, Georgia and three-star defensive end Deontae Craig out of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Ratledge has offers from nearly everyone — Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, Tennessee, Michigan and others. He measures at 6-foot-6, 306 pounds and is the fourth-best offensive tackle in the nation. The No. 41 recruit overall has visited Tennessee four times and Alabama three times (and was visited by Nick Saban). He's taken a couple visits to Georgia as well.
Thankful to receive an offer from THE Ohio State University! pic.twitter.com/qgde5ZnL32— Tate Ratledge (@tateratledge22) February 13, 2019
Craig is another story at Culver Academies. He rates as the No. 3 prospect in Indiana but the No. 501 nationally and No. 22 at strong-side defensive end. Culver Academies head coach Andrew Dorrel said in his 20 years of coaching, he hasn't seen a player as dominating as Craig.
"He can change the course of the game through the plays he makes on defense," Dorrel said. "We work to maximize that talent, but really we’re just fortunate that he’s willing to be coached and work hard. He is the core of our defense. He’s the type of kid that makes players around him much better because of his work ethic in practice and what he does outside of practice."
Craig is a three-year starter at Culver Academies and led his team in tackles as a junior and a senior on its way to ranking as the No. 1 scoring defense in Class 4A Indiana football. He plays on the outside typically with his hand in the dirt, though Dorrel said he and his coaching staff have discussed sending him out in coverage or playing him in the flats.
He also contributes on offense as a tight end and a wide receiver and looks to be a bigger part of the passing game in his senior season.
Craig also starts on the Culver basketball team that won a Class 3A state title last season.
Aidan Keanaaina Picks the Irish
Four-star defensive tackle Aidan Keanaaina had narrowed his decision down to three schools — Florida, Notre Dame and Ohio State. The 6-foot-3, 292-pound tackle had made two visits to both Ohio State and Notre Dame after receiving an offer on the same day from both programs on May 22, 2018. It was essentially a two-school race.
Wednesday was the defensive tackle's decision day, and the J.K. Mullen junior selected Notre Dame.
COMMITED 100% TO THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME #IRISHBOUNDXX #WeAreND #GoIrish THANK YOU @CoachBrianKelly @CoachMikeElston @Coach_Lea @ToddLyght @StaceyKeanaaina @MullenMustang @SixZeroAcademy @adamgorney @TomLoy247 @KevinSinclair_ @LemmingReport @NDFootball pic.twitter.com/9o0odEGdmF— Aidan Ikaika Keanaaina KAY-AW-NAH-EYE-NAH (@AidanAkfootball) February 13, 2019
The Irish will be getting a good one in Keanaaina. J.K. Mullen head coach Vincent White told Eleven Warriors that for being nearly 300 pounds, Keanaaina had speed that is hard to find in most tackles that prefer to post up in the middle of an offensive line.
“He’s 300 pounds, and he can move," White said. "He can run. You wouldn’t know he’s 300 pounds. He runs like he’s a guy around 250 or 245. For a 300-pound kid, he’s athletic.”
Keanaaina allows J.K. Mullen to play in a three-man front by receiving the majority of the offensive line's attention, often being doubled or sometimes even tripled. What White said makes him extremely valuable to collegiate programs is his ability to also go outside at 300 pounds. That is atypical for defensive tackles at 292 pounds.
Keanaaina was ranked as the No. 28 defensive tackle in the nation, but his decision was important to the Buckeyes' efforts around the defensive tackle position. He would have been the first classified defensive tackle to commit to Ohio State in the 2020 class, which is significant because the Buckeyes reigned in just one defensive tackle in 2019 — three-star Jaden McKenzie out of North Carolina.
By Keanaaina's second year in college, Jerron Cage, Taron Vincent and Tommy Togiai — all sophomore defensive tackles, the largest group at the position — will likely be seniors. With just six classified defensive tackles offered in the class so far and two of them — four-star Tre Williams (Clemson) and four-star Nazir Stackhouse (Georgia) — already committed, Keanaaina's decision was a big one for the Bucks.
Fields General to Play
After second-year quarterback Justin Fields made his decision to transfer to Ohio State and Georgia gave in on its restriction keeping Fields from playing immediately in Columbus, the NCAA ruled that Fields would not need to sit out a season and would be able to play during the 2019 season.
This was great news for the Buckeyes, who will lose Dwayne Haskins to the NFL this offseason and were left with few favorable options to replace Haskins' influence on the offense. Fields can bring that, as it could be assumed he will be the starting quarterback since he was recruited to transfer to Ohio State.
While he lacks the size that Haskins brought to the position, Fields makes up for it with his dual-threat capabilities. In one season at Georgia, he ran the ball 42 times for 266 yards and four touchdowns. He attempted just 39 passes but completed 27 of them 328 yards and our more touchdowns.
Fields' eligibility is crucial for several reasons, with the most obvious being the need for an heir apparent to Haskins. Further, Ohio State is looking to add receivers to its 2020 class, and playing with a quarterback like Fields for a couple years certainly won't take away from the attraction of the Buckeyes' program.