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.
Greg Penn's long-time relationship with Larry Johnson pays off
Maryland 2021 linebacker Greg Penn met Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson when he was in seventh grade. The DeMatha Catholic linebacker paid a visit to Columbus and began a very fresh and infant relationship with Johnson, and when it came time to recruit, the two connected again.
On Wednesday, Penn finally saw that relationship pay off in a big way, receiving an Ohio State offer from Johnson and the Buckeyes.
“He just wanted me to keep improving,” Penn said about Johnson and an Ohio State offer. “I first met coach when I was in seventh grade on a visit with a friend, and he told me then that I would have the opportunity to come to Ohio State.”
The linebacker position will likely be a point of emphasis for Ohio State in the Class of 2021, as Jaheim Thomas and Kourt Williams are classified as linebackers but likely wouldn’t play the position – Thomas to defensive end, Williams to safety – if they signed with the Buckeyes. Three-star linebacker Mitchell Melton has become a focus at the position for 2020.
Penn could fit into that scope for the next class, though. He is rated by 247Sports as the No. 11 inside linebacker in the class and the No. 256 player overall, but those ratings will likely rise when composite ratings are released.
DeMatha Catholic is typically known for its ability to churn out basketball prospects, as 2020 five-star center Hunter Dickinson will be a senior next year. But five-star running back MarShawn Lloyd, who was being recruited by Ohio State in the 2020 class is leaning toward Georgia.
But Johnson has strong roots in Maryland, so him following up with a recruit he met as a seventh grader is not surprising.
“It feels great,” Penn said about the offer. “Ohio State has always been one of my dream schools.”
Sparking a relationship with a recruit in middle school isn’t necessarily uncommon, but with the strength of Johnson as a recruiter combined with the fact that linebackers coach Al Washington will surely be part of Penn’s recruitment eventually creates a positive outlook on Penn’s future regarding Ohio State.
Julian Fleming cancels Georgia official
No. 1 2020 wide receiver Julian Fleming will not make his official visit to Georgia on May 31, Lettermen Row reported Thursday. That cancellation essentially narrows the field to four teams – Ohio State, Penn State, Clemson and Alabama.
Fleming recently announced that he will be committing on May 31, which is a couple months ahead of when he was originally expected to commit. It would've been unlikely for Fleming to go on the visit and commit to another school the same day, but Georgia had never been a top player within Fleming's recruitment.
The Pennsylvania wideout made his Alabama official visit in mid-April but does not have officials planned for Ohio State, Penn State or Clemson yet, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he scheduled at least a visit with Ohio State. His relationship with Brian Hartline has grown throughout recent months, particularly after his March 23 visit to Columbus.
At this point, the race for Fleming’s commitment seems to be between Ohio State and Penn State, where Fleming had been expected to commit in the beginning of his recruitment. Now, more crystal balls continue to lean Ohio State’s way, and – I can’t believe I’m writing this – Fleming and his girlfriend, who attends Penn State, have ended their relationship, as reported by Cleveland.com.
He also told Cleveland.com that he has made his decision already and has told trusted family members. The only visit he’s made since his March 23 visit to Columbus was his official to Alabama.
Offensive tackles continue to erase themselves from Ohio State's radar
Another 2020 offensive tackle target has committed away from Ohio State – this one in the form of Massachusetts tackle Zak Zinter.
Zinter announced Thursday that he has committed to Michigan, representing the second Ohio State target to choose the Wolverines in the last week, after 2021 quarterback J.J. McCarthy committed there as well.
COMMITTED!— Zak Zinter (@zak_zinter) May 16, 2019
I am excited to announce that I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at the University of Michigan!
Go Blue! pic.twitter.com/eTaJ6BOy4h
At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, Zinter provides a lot of versatility to Michigan, and after his visit to Ohio State in March, he explained how his decision wasn’t easy, as he made a tour of visits including Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State and Notre Dame again.
As the number of targets at offensive tackle continues to reduce, Zinter was one of the top guys left on the board for the Buckeyes. Some other targets left are No. 12 offensive tackle Michael Carmody, No. 14 offensive tackle – and South Carolina commit – Issiah Walker, No. 17 offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten and Grant Toutant, who is committed to Penn State. At other offensive line spots, Ohio State is still in with St. Thomas Aquinas three-star guard Marlon Martinez and No. 6 center Josh Fryar. A commitment from No. 7 center Reece Atteberry is nearly expected at this point as well.
Offensive tackles that had 2020 offers from Ohio State and committed recently are as follows – Turner Corcoran (Nebraska), Tosh Baker (Notre Dame), Jimmy Christ (Virginia), John Young (Kentucky) and Josh Priebe (Northwestern).
Ohio State isn’t lacking in numbers at offensive line for the 2020 class. It still has the commitment of top offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr., and tackles Trey Leroux and Jakob James, as well as No. 1 center Luke Wypler all remain committed.