Heat Check: June Officials on the Horizon and Five-star Tailback Kendall Milton's Rise to No. 1 on Our 2020 Board

By Andrew Ellis on June 4, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Kendall Milton will make three more official visits before a July commitment.

Recruiting is all about comfort and relationships. Sometimes you're gaining momentum on the trail, sometimes you're losing it. How are some of Ohio State's key prospects trending? Let's take a look.

The Buckeyes added a single commitment in the month of May, but it was a big one in the form of five-star wide receiver Julian Fleming. Brian Hartline went head to head with Clemson and came out on top for the country's No. 1 wideout, further bolstering an already stellar 2020 crop at the position. 

The addition gives Ryan Day his highest-rated commitment and the second top-10 pledge alongside Cincinnati's Paris Johnson. Fleming checks in No. 6 nationally while Johnson is No. 7. Last Friday's five-star news put the Buckeyes' 2020 class up to No. 9 nationally and it's once again at the top of the Big Ten

While the Fleming news was certainly huge for the class, June is shaping up to be one of the biggest months of the entire cycle. Official visits are already underway, but June 21 is looking to be an especially busy weekend in Columbus. The Buckeyes are slated to host a number of top targets in the coming weeks and we're expecting a few more commitments to go down before it's all said and done. 

Julian Fleming was previously No. 4 on our board. His commitment – along with plenty of other noteworthy happenings on the trail – leads to some new additions for the month of June; including a change at the very top.

KENDALL MILTON RB 1 2 ★★★★★ Georgia•LSU•Alabama
DARRION HENRY DL 2 1 ★★★★ Tennessee•Georgia•LSU
BIJAN ROBINSON RB 3 3 ★★★★★ UCLA•Texas•Arizona
CLARK PHILLIPS III CB 4 5 ★★★★ Notre Dame•Cal•UCLA
MICHAEL CARMODY OT 5 7 ★★★★ Notre Dame•Penn State•VT
MOOKIE COOPER WR 6 NA ★★★★ Miami•Illinois•Oklahoma•LSU
LATHAN RANSOM SAF 8 10 ★★★★ Notre Dame•LSU•Texas
CAMERON MARTINEZ ATH 9 11 ★★★ Michigan•Northwestern•PSU
MITCHELL MELTON LB/DE 10 NA ★★★ Notre Dame•Michigan
KEDRICK BINGLEY-JONES DL 11 NA ★★★★ Michigan•UNC•Florida

*Last month's edition can be found HERE. 

Let's cut right to the chase. Ohio State's 2020 class remains almost entirely one-sided with eight commits on offense and just one – Lejond Cavazos – on the other side of the ball. As the new defensive staff continues to build those relationships, there's still absolutely no reason to fret with where things stand in June. 

That is exactly why I'd have no issue if you were to tell me that Darrion Henry deserves to stay at the top spot on our board. He's a priority in-state target with offers from all over the country. Simply put, he's a guy that Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes can't let get away. A few weeks back he indicated that a decision was coming sooner than expected, and I wouldn't be surprised if that happened later this month. 

There's a new king of the castle, however, and things are getting quite tasty on the Kendall Milton front. We're of the belief that it's an Ohio State vs. Georgia battle for the five-star tailback from Clovis, California, and last weekend's trip to Columbus reportedly couldn't have gone any better. Following his first official, several prognosticators – myself included – are really like the Buckeyes' chances.

Running back is a priority unit for the cycle and Tony Alford continues to focus on Milton and Arizona's Bijan Robinson. The catch with the Milton recruitment is that he's still got three SEC visits remaining. I felt better about things when it came out that Alabama – and not Georgia – would be getting the final official since the Tide are likely running fourth in this race. It's now sounding like there's a chance the trip to Athens will actually be the final one, but the Buckeyes remain in a great spot. 

Milton is expected to make a decision following his official visits, likely sometime in July. He'll head to Baton Rouge next week before the final two SEC adventures. Alford has done a fantastic job building a relationship with the Milton family. Early playing time appears to be a factor and that's something Ohio State has to offer given the likely early departure of J.K. Dobbins. 

Bijan Robinson is also scheduled to make an official visit this month as he'll be in town on June 14. He's an entirely different player than Milton checking in at 6-foot and 200 pounds with the ability to find the end zone on any given play. Texas and UCLA look like the main competition for the Tucson, Arizona back. The Buckeyes have two great options and fans should be elated with either one of the five-stars. 

La Habra, California's Clark Phillips III continues to be the top priority at cornerback, and we look for the Buckeyes to take two more at the position. He took his first official visit to Cal this past weekend and is slated to visit Ohio State on the 21st. Notre Dame and UCLA are also in the running but things continue to look pretty darn good for Jeff Hafley and the Buckeyes. I'd have the four-star on commitment watch before the end of the month.

Adding another offensive tackle (or two) remains a key need as well. Paris Johnson flirted a bit with some SEC programs but he should end up in Columbus when the dust settles. Trey Leroux is a developmental guy and Jakob James seems like more of a guard. Mars, Pennsylvania's Michael Carmody is the top option at tackle but last month's Notre Dame offer really shook things up. Is he a lock to end up in South Bend with his brother? Not necessarily, but this won't be an easy one for the Buckeyes. 

My pick to help finish off wide receiver recruiting? How about St. Louis' Teriyon "Mookie" Cooper. This is a guy Brian Hartline is enamored with and for very good reason. The Buckeyes already have three of the country's best in the fold, but they could still use a slot/H-back type of playmaker. Should he be down a bit given what Hartline has already accomplished on the trail? Perhaps, but Cooper is an entirely different kind of player.

The four-star visited Ohio State back in mid-May and plans on returning for an official. A one-time Longhorn commit, Cooper is still considering the likes of Texas, Miami, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Clearly, there's one school that doesn't exactly fit in that group, but it's important to note that Lovie Smith hired Cory Patterson to an assistant role just over a year ago. Patterson is Cooper's former coach at Trinity Catholic and already delivered one St. Louis four-star to Champaign when Isaiah Williams signed back in December. 

Cooper could help to complete the puzzle in what would be an outrageously talented haul at wideout. Fort Lauderdale's Marcus Rosemy was previously on our board but he's since been removed with the addition of Julian Fleming. If the Buckeyes were to nab Cooper, there'd still be a few guys out there who could stretch the wide receiver class to five. Rosemy would absolutely be one of those guys. For now, I'd say Georgia is the best bet; at least until he makes it back to Columbus.

Yet another California prospect – four-star linebacker Kourt Williams – makes his debut this month at the No. 7 spot. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder is being recruited to play the hybrid bullet position and he too will be in Columbus on June 21. Oklahoma and Texas A&M used up their officials in May. Penn State, Tennessee, and Ohio State are next on the list. This is another one that could come to an end rather quickly and the Buckeyes are the favorite. 

Lathan Ransom and Cameron Martinez both jumped up a few spots and each recruitment is in a different place. Ransom is expected to drop some news this afternoon and I'd look for that to be a list of top schools. Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas, and Oklahoma are the prime contenders but he still seems fairly open at the moment. 

Martinez is being recruited as an athlete but he too may end up playing safety. He's made recent trips to Northwestern, Penn State, and Kentucky and will return to Columbus later this month. We said it last month and we'll say it again: Don't pay attention to the stars with this one. The Ohio State staff really, really likes this kid. The Buckeyes are now the crystal ball favorite and I continue to think he ends up in the class. 

Maryland's Mitchell Melton is yet another three-star prospect who also happens to be a priority target for the Buckeyes. He's got potential as an outside linebacker or defensive end and this is shaping up to be a pure Midwest battle. The Wolverines have three linebacker commits already, but it's important to remember Melton's versatility. The Olney (Good Counsel) product is expected to check out all three schools in June. The Buckeyes remain in a great spot for the No. 10 player on our board.

While players like North Carolina five-star edge rusher Desmond Evans remain options, there hasn't been too much traction thus far. Kedrick Bingley-Jones is another Carolina talent who's heading toward an Aug. 3 decision date. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder will be on campus later this month as the Buckeyes do battle with Michigan, North Carolina, and others for the former Gator commit.

He's now earned a spot on our list, but the defensive line board remains a work in progress behind Darrion Henry. This month's camp circuit should be an important one for a few different position groups, but the defensive line and tight end may be at the forefront.

It's bound to be a busy month on the trail as Ryan Day and his staff look to add to the Class of 2020. A few position groups are already sitting pretty – most notably quarterback and wideout – but there's still plenty of work to be done elsewhere; especially on defense.

There's one more month of early official visits and plenty of prospects are looking to make decisions before their senior seasons get underway. We should soon have more information on the June 21 festivities. The usual Friday Night Lights camp setting? A cookout of sorts? Perhaps both? There could certainly be some tweaks this year. 

You'll want to stay dialed into 11W over the next few weeks with official visitors heading to town, camps getting underway, in-state prospects fighting for offers, and the potential for a few big commitments. I wouldn't be shocked to see upwards of five new ones here in the next four to five weeks, but we'll have to wait and see how things play out. 

Pop culture sidenote: I saw "Rocketman" over the weekend and would give it a respectable 7.5 out of 10. This one remains undefeated when going up against Sir Elton's other hits. 

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