Feb. 6th of 2013 was a pretty big day for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.
Like most signing days, the Buckeyes received plenty of good news on the first Wednesday back in February of 2013. Not only did Meyer and Co. beat out Alabama and Tennessee for five-star safety Vonn Bell, but they also managed to hold onto running back commitment Ezekiel Elliott who had been going back and forth between the Buckeyes and Missouri.
A four-star tailback at the time, the St. Louis (John Burroughs School) standout was seriously considering his parents' alma mater right up until signng day. The long-time Buckeye pledge made an official visit to Columbia just one week before putting the pen to paper. Elliott's Ohio State tale has now been told and the No. 4 overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft is now one of the best running backs in the league.
Urban Meyer and the rest of the staff used Elliott's success to help with a few other key targets from St. Louis. The 2018 class featured a pair of teammates from Christian Brothers College High School with four-star signees Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown. This past December the 2019 class added some serious speed in the form of four-star receiver Jameson Williams. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound track champion from Cardinal Ritter Prep is set to arrive this summer.
Anyone who watched Ohio State or the 2019 NFL Draft has at least some idea of what Brian Hartline has done thus far in his short tenure as wide receivers coach. With the help of Dwayne Haskins, the Buckeye passing attack reached new heights a season ago and is showing no signs of slowing down; even with a new signal-caller set to take over.
Hartline's tireless efforts on the trail are also paying off as the Buckeyes are on the verge of putting together an absolutely absurd haul at wideout. Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are already in and now the focus is on the country's No. 1 player at the position as five-star Julian Fleming is set to announce on May 31st.
After the Fleming announcement, the Buckeyes will look to add a slot wideout to the class, and it could come in the form of yet another talented St. Louis playmaker.
If you're a fan of (or at least enjoy watching) Purdue's Rondale Moore, then Trinity Catholic athlete Teriyon "Mookie" Cooper is probably another player you should be keeping a close eye on. At about 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, the country's No. 66 overall prospect is different than the majority of the receiver/slot targets the Buckeyes are seriously considering. And as we sit here in late-May, there's little doubt that he's skyrocketing up the staff's 2020 board.
During April's Opening regional event in St. Louis, Cooper worked out as an athlete where he also excelled at defensive back. He earned an invite to The Opening finals which will be held this summer in Frisco, Texas. A few programs actually prefer him in the secondary, but Ohio State and most others view him as a wide receiver or even an all-purpose back.
Cooper committed to Texas in February but backed off that pledge less than a month later. With plenty of time left to make a decision, the top contenders at the moment appear to be Ohio State, Texas, Miami, Oklahoma, and Illinois. He'll take an official visit to USC next month and then is expected to make the remaining trips during his senior season.
Fresh off an unofficial visit to Columbus, Cooper already has plans to head back in October. This may actually be one of those strange recruitments where Lovie Smith of all people has the upper hand; at least for now.
Several of Cooper's former teammates are now suiting up for the Illini including 2019 quarterback signee Isaiah Williams. The former Trinity Catholic star became the Illini's top-rated signee since a similarly named player that Buckeye fans are familiar with—Isiah "Juice" Williams. It's certainly tough to imagine Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, or even Miami losing out to Illinois, but there are some factors working in the Illini's favor.
Mookie Cooper is a shifty, fast playmaker who can score in a number of different ways. He recorded a 4.49 laser-timed forty as a sophomore and put up over 1,000 total yards and 14 scores during his junior campaign. He's also a guy who can do some damage on special teams. The Buckeyes elected not to push for Rondale Moore and were unable to nab Wandale Robinson (Nebraska) for the 2019 class. Cooper is in a similar mold.
By the end of May, it's expected that Brian Hartline will have three of the country's top receivers in the fold. Ohio State is also looking at St. Thomas Aquinas wideout Marcus Rosemy and California's LV Bunkley-Shelton. Both are talented prospects, but adding another weapon that can play the slot/H position will remain a priority as we continue through the 2020 cycle.
It doesn't look like a decision is imminent and we'll have to wait and see how the official visits pan out, but right now the Buckeyes are in a good spot to add yet another talented prospect from the Show-Me State. And who's betting against Brian Hartline at this point?