The Hurry Up: Ryan Linthicum, Gage Keys Reflect on Positive Ohio State Visits over the Weekend

By Taylor Lehman on May 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Ryan Linthicum

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.

Ryan Linthicum has Ohio State in top schools after visit

One of the offensive linemen Ohio State is pursuing the heaviest is 2021 No. 1 center Ryan Linthicum. In what has been a tough week for offensive line recruiting – top 2020 offensive tackle target Zak Zinter committing to Michigan and No. 1 guard Justin Rogers expected to commit elsewhere Monday – a good visit for Linthicum would be a much-needed win for the Buckeyes.

That’s exactly what they got.

“The visit went really well,” Linthicum told Eleven Warriors on Saturday night. “They are one of my top schools.”

Linthicum was in Columbus to make up for missing a visit in January due to weather, and on the visit, he was able to meet most of the coaching staff, including defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who is the main Maryland recruiter for Ohio State, and head coach Ryan Day.

The 275-pound offensive lineman left with a good impression and expects to be back at some point.

Going into his junior year at Demascus High School, Linthicum is the teammate of 2020 No. 1 overall prospect Bryan Bresee, who committed to Clemson earlier this month. The two are friends and work out together.

Linthicum is one of several offensive linemen that have good impressions of Ohio State at this point in the 2021 cycle, but Linthicum is one of few who have definitely mentioned Ohio State in his top schools, along with Michigan, Virginia Tech and Maryland.

Kendall Milton's final four adds intrigue to OSU 2020 RB targets

Five-star running back Kendall Milton included Ohio State in his final four schools on Friday night, he announced via Twitter.

Obviously, being in the final four of a five-star prospect’s recruitment is significant for any school, but for Ohio State, it means that Milton was impressed on his visit to spring practice in April, when he made tours of a few schools he wanted to confirm he liked enough to schedule for officials.

Now, Milton will work on scheduling an official visit to Ohio State in what has become a very interesting running back class for the Buckeyes. Ohio State hasn’t landed a five-star running back commitment since Beanie Wells in 2006, and now, they’re involved with the top schools for both Milton and Arizona running back Bijan Robinson, who has an official visit scheduled for June 14.

The odds of landing both five-star backs are slim-to-none since five-stars don’t necessarily need to settle on competing with another five-star within the same class. At the moment, it seems as if the Buckeyes have the best shot with Robinson, but these next couple visits will be crucial for both.

Four-star Florida running back Lawrance Toafili, who is rated as the No. 15 running back in the class, also has Ohio State in his unofficial top schools. He was in Columbus for the spring game April 13. After his spring game in Largo, he told 247Sports that he enjoyed his visit to Ohio State and that the top schools he’s looking at are Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Ohio State. Michigan is also in there. He’s working on setting up an official with the Wolverines soon.

The Buckeyes already seem to be in good position for four-star Akron running back DeaMonte Trayanum, who is rated as the No. 24 running back in the class but will likely prove to be more valuable once he’s in a program. Jalen Berger, the nation’s No. 9 running back, is also a target to watch as his officials season kicks in. He will be committing in January, though, so his cycle will be more delayed than others.

Gage Keys changing his approach, gaining interest from OSU, Penn State

Hilliard Davidson defensive end Gage Keys has been making a commitment to the weight room in the last year, and it’s paid off. The No. 45 2020 Ohio prospect – an underrated rating – has added 17 pounds just this offseason in an effort to show teams that he is dedicated to getting better, he told Eleven warriors.

That’s earned him more conversations with Ohio State and Penn State, as his offers list threatens to explode from the current top offers from Indiana, Minnesota, Rutgers and Cincinnati.

The high school junior was on campus Friday for a visit, and defensive line coach Larry Johnson liked what it saw.

“Coach Johnson and I have been talking a lot recently, and he’s been to the school to visit with me a few times this year,” Johnson said. “H’es proud of the way I committed myself to the weight room and has noticed a huge change in my body since the fall.

“I just want to be the best. The only way to do that was to completely change my approach to this next season. I had to get bigger and faster to change the level of impact I make on the field.”

Keys does not have an offer from the Buckeyes yet, but he has been in contact with them since last year. He visited Ohio State during last year’s game against Minnesota, and on the first day the coaching staff was allowed to contact him electronically, he received a message.

Johnson wants to see him at a summer camp this June, mainly to see the way he moves now after adding so much muscle to his mass, and Keys believes with a good performance, he could earn that offer. The defensive end said what stood out to him from the visit is the potential that Johnson sees in him.

“I think what really stood out to me was Coach Johnson’s presentation and how he believes he can develop me not only into a great college player but someone who can thrive in the NFL,” Keys said. “I think that helped me realize they’re more interested in me than I originally thought.”

Keys made an unofficial visit to Penn State on March 23 and has an official visit scheduled at Indiana on June 14.

Paris Johnson has NFL athleticism 

Ohio State offensive tackle commit Paris Johnson Jr. put up testing numbers at The Opening Regionals in Nashville that rivaled top-10 marks for offensive linemen in the NFL Combine this year.

Just as a reminder, he is in fact in high school. He’s transferring from St. Xavier to Princeton for his senior year.

To clarify that tweet from CBS Sports' Barton Simmons, Johnson measured in at 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 5.07 seconds, ran the shuttle in 4.53 seconds and jumped 32.5 inches for his vertical jump. 

Just to recap where his marks would stand, his 40-yard dash would have tied Mississippi State's Shaq Calhoun for ninth among offensive linemen in the NFL Combine this year, while his 20-yard shuttle would have tied Penn State's Ryan Bates and N.C. State's Garrett Bradbury for fifth. His vertical leap would have tied Ohio State's own Michael Jordan for fifth as well.

This is bittersweet news for Ohio State fans, though. Johnson continues to open the market for himself, and these eye-popping numbers only aid the cause.

He does seem to be committed to his pledge to Ohio State, as there haven’t been any damning signs to show otherwise, but, as it is for most high school prospects, opening up that market and increasing the intrigue from other programs can make it difficult to abide by a commitment. He didn’t go on Darrion Henry and Jaheim Thomas’ official visit to LSU and has one scheduled with Ohio State for the weekend of June 21. His visit to LSU is scheduled for May 24, while he already attended his official to Georgia on April 19.

If he does stick to his commitment, Ohio State will be getting a freshman who has shown can being immediate NFL-esque athleticism at either tackle position.

Ian Stewart picks Michigan State

Michigan athlete Ian Stewart announced his commitment during his prom Saturday night and chose Michigan State. His recruitment appeared to be down to Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and Ohio State, and Ohio State had paid a visit to him last week ahead of his commitment.

It seemed like Ohio State was a bit on the outside looking in on Stewart’s recruitment for a majority of the time, and the Buckeyes would have liked to have Stewart’s long body at the safety position.

There are other options at the position, though, as three safety targets will make official visits on June 21, including No. 4 safety Lathan Ransom, Kourt Williams and Cameron Martinez, who is leaning toward playing at the position. Jordan Morant is still on Ohio State’s radar too, and Westerville safety Rickey Hyatt has really connected with the coaching staff and could be a diamond in the rough as an in-state safety.

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