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.
Kaden Saunders Hopes to Add OSU Offer to Early Collection
Westerville athlete Kaden Saunders has already received offers from Penn State, Michigan State and West Virginia as a high school freshman, and he was at Ohio State on Friday for one of what Saunders said he hopes to be many visits throughout the rest of spring and summer.
“All of the facilities were top-notch,” Saunders said. “The coaching staff really bonded with me for it being my first time on a visit. They showed me a lot of love and interest, and it’s just a great feeling there overall. It was really nice.”
Every school showing interest in Saunders, including Notre Dame, Kentucky and Florida outside of the schools that have offered him, is recruiting the Ohio athlete as a wide receiver. The Buckeyes are as well, but they also want to see him perform at defensive back, Saunders said.
As a freshman at Westerville South High School, Saunders didn’t touch the ball too often, which is normal for a freshman. He carried the ball 27 times for 203 yards and caught 12 passes for 229 yards. That role will certainly expand beginning next season.
Saunders has already shown the ability to be a big-play threat on every down and the acceleration to beat almost any high school defensive back off the line, as well as track passes on deep routes. He will likely be a big-play factor at the next level, and he still has three years to develop into a less specialized and more refined wideout in that regard too.
Good day at home... pic.twitter.com/vbuIP4HtJy— Kaden Saunders (@KSaunders03) April 19, 2019
Saunders has developed a relationship with Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington, who recruits in most Ohio areas, and on his visit he was able to meet wide receivers coach Brian Hartline, running backs coach Tony Alford, co-secondary coach Jeff Hafley and head coach Ryan Day.
“Ohio State didn’t really lay out a path,” Saunders said about the possibility of earning a Buckeye offer. “They just told me they really like me and I’m a big target and to keep working and come to camp.”
If Saunders does, in fact, come to an Ohio State summer camp, that could be the opportunity for Ohio State to see him at the defensive back position, but it’s likely that he will continue to be recruited as a wide receiver.
Reid Carrico Details His OSU Offer
After making his first visit to Ohio State just a few weeks ago, Ironton athlete Reid Carrico, who was recently rated as the No. 9 2021 recruit in Ohio by 247Sports, paid another visit to Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ spring game.
Before the game began though, Ryan Day invited Carrico into his office and extended the linebacker an offer.
That has been the trend as of late for the Ironton running back-linebacker hybrid. Since visiting Ohio sTate the first time in late-March, then being rated the No. 193 prospect overall in his class, Carrico has welcomed offers from programs such as Vanderbilt, Duke, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and Indiana, where his strongest offer before the whirlwind began was from Marshall, just a half hour away from his hometown.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, all I have to do is work hard and play good football and this process will take care of itself,” Carrico said. “They just push me to work harder. I can only pick one of them, and wherever I go, I want to be great. I will continue to strive for that.”
Carrico did admit, though, that while he always thought this would be the case for his college football recruitment, he didn’t realize it would take off as quickly as it has.
In just three weeks, he went from making a couple trips to Marshall to develop his strongest relationship to standing on the sidelines with five-star defensive end commit Jack Sawyer and fellow 2021 Ohio recruit Najee Story after receiving an Ohio State offer.
“I really enjoyed being there again,” Carrico said. “I knew that the spring game was going to be wild, but the atmosphere was crazy. Guys were flying around, and it was just a good vibe.”
Commitments Going Elsewhere
Commitment season has begun to ramp up for the 2020 class in the last two weeks, which means some of the big names are starting to be removed from the field, including a few Ohio State targets.
The biggest target that pledged to another school this weekend was four-star Georgia safety Brian Branch, who was fairly clearly not going to commit to Ohio State when he announced that he was making his decision later in the evening Friday.
My presence will go with you— Alpha (@BrianBB_1) April 20, 2019
And I will give you rest
After careful consideration about my future and thoughtful conversations with my family I have chosen to commit to .... pic.twitter.com/zaSKbcqoGz
What made Branch’s commitment to Alabama interesting though was that he had developed a strong bond with former Ohio State coach Alex Grinch, who is now the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, one of the top two schools considered by Branch. Branch chose the Tide, though, and will prove to be an effective defensive back in that system.
Texas four-star guard Akinola Ogunbiyi made a commitment after having been committed to Texas A&M as recently as February. After having made a visit to Athens recently, Ogunbiyi must have been impressed enough to pledge a commitment to Georgia on Saturday.
Ogunbiyi has had an unorthodox recruitment with his mother suffering a stroke and his haste made about his commitment to Texas A&M and the school’s proximity to his home. Ogunbiyi was finally able to expand his range of interest after his mother’s increasingly improving health. Ohio State was in his final cut list, but Ogunbiyi never made it to Columbus and was likely never going to be able to.
Jordan Botelho, the No. 3 2020 inside linebacker and the top prospect coming out of Hawaii, had an Ohio State offer for less than a month before committing to Notre Dame on Thursday.
I remember dreaming of this moment all my life...— Jordan Botelho (@Jordanbotelho_) April 18, 2019
NOW ITS MY TIME pic.twitter.com/QeaCNSKgsD
The Buckeyes just got in too late with Botelho, who had been high on Notre Dame for a long time before receiving Ohio State’s offer. Botelho’s commitment to Notre Dame was unsurprising.