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.
Henry Blackburn Working for Ohio State Offer
Colorado wide receiver and defensive back Henry Blackburn just earned his first collegiate offer from Northern Colorado a couple weeks ago. The 2020 recruit has made several visits, including trips to Colorado, Colorado State, Nebraska, Wyoming, Michigan and Ohio State. He was in Columbus when Ohio State welcomed in Michigan during the 2018 season.
But he didn’t receive offers from any of those programs. The reason, Blackburn said, is that he wasn’t able to get much playing time during his sophomore season like many recruits who are noticed by top programs around the nation. That forced him to change.
“I was really pissed off,” Blackburn said about not getting much playing time. “So I really hit the gym and started to change it myself.”
Blackburn added 25 pounds in the offseason between the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and it paid off. The high school junior played regularly on both sides of the ball, which gave him the opportunity to stay on the field and eventually had a breakout season. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound athlete caught 54 passes for 890 yards and 17 touchdowns on offense and made 97 tackles, 10 pass breakups and three interceptions.
Before he finished up that breakout season, though, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford made his way out to Fairview High School to see Blackburn for himself. He didn’t offer the athlete, but Alford and the Ohio State staff decided to recruit Blackburn as a safety because of his aggressive playing style.
What Alford wants to see is how fast Blackburn can get. The Ohio State recruiter encouraged Blackburn to improve his speed and make his way to an Ohio State summer camp in June.
“Coach Alford thinks I have the mindset and the aggression, but he said you’ve got to have speed to be able to keep up with those elite receivers,” Blackburn said.
While Ohio State is recruiting Blackburn as a safety, he said he would be content with being recruited on either side of the ball. On defense, though, Blackburn said he brings a physicality that many high school players cannot bring.
I had an amazing time in Columbus. Super impressive win. Go Bucks!! Thank you @CoachTonyAlford @OSUCoachMeyer @CoachGrinch @markpantoni @Mornhinweg_17 @JoeBBoulder @warriorqbcoach pic.twitter.com/MOybJ6zHjc— Henry Blackburn (@henryjblackburn) November 26, 2018
Most of the teams around the Boulder, Colorado, area base their offenses on running schemes, forcing Blackburn to be a safety mostly accountable for the running attack. That’s improved his ability to tackle but no this ability to cover. He brings some skills in that department but has plenty of room to improve, he said.
Alford said he wants to revisit Blackburn in Colorado to see him run routes as a display of his agility and speed.
With four juniors and four underclassmen currently at the safety position, safety isn’t an immediate concern for Ohio State in the 2020 class. And with some of the top safeties in the class already on the Buckeyes’ radar, it’d be far from a lock for them to offer Blackburn. But given that Alford likes what he’s seen so far and merely wants to see improved speed on Blackburn’s part, offering a quality safety with little competition could be a good move to add depth at the position.
Ohio State wants four-star Arizona safety Lathan Ransom the most out of the safety crop left, and four-star Miami safety Lejond Cavazos was once committed to the Buckeyes and is visiting next weekend. The nation’s top safety, R.J. Mickens, also included Ohio State in his top-11. Ohio State is also in the mix for four-star New Jersey safety Jordan Morant as well.
IMG Academy Defensive Coordinator Leaves
Two days after IMG Academy director Mark Riddell was discovered to have taken ACT exams in place of high school students for money, IMG defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Keith Goganious announced that he will step down from his position at the academy. Whether it was related to the scheme is not clearly evident.
Today I announced to the our players @IMGFootball that I am stepping down as the DC/LB Coach for the National Team to spend more time with my fam n the DMV. I want to thank the admin, coaching staff and the athletes for allowing me to be part of the IMG family the past 2 years. pic.twitter.com/0yCYBsAQTH— Keith Goganious (@KGoganious) March 14, 2019
The investigation has yet to show whether the students and players will be directly punished, but three current Buckeyes graduated from the program – sophomore defensive tackle Taron Vincent, junior safety Isaiah Pryor and junior cornerback Marcus Williamson.
OSU Targets on the Road
Several Ohio State targets are on visits to other teams this weekend, including Arizona cornerback Kelee Ringo, who is at Texas for an unofficial visit.
Three-star athlete Justin Barron is visiting Boston College for another of several visits he’s made there. Barron was in Columbus shortly before spring practices began and left hopeful for an offer. He is not locked in for a commitment to Boston College, even though he’s visited many times.
Braiden McGregor, the No. 11 defensive end in the 2020 class with a lot of interest in Michigan, is visiting Clemson this weekend. Ohio State isn’t out of McGregor’s sight, but Michigan and Notre Dame appear to be the frontrunners for his commitment.
Jalen Kimber, a four-star cornerback out of Arlington, Texas, is visiting Arkansas this weekend. Kimber is the No. 8 cornerback in the 2020 class and showed off his skillset at The Opening Dallas regional, which earned him a handful of offers, including one from Ohio State.