The most important recruiting weekend of the year is nearly upon us.
The dead period starts next week, but Ryan Day and the Buckeyes have plenty going on before it hits. This weekend will see numerous top targets – including several of the 2020 commitments – head to Columbus for Ohio State's biggest recruiting event of the calendar year.
Running back recruiting has been the topic du jour, but folks are also a bit on edge about the lack of defensive pledges. That includes some former Buckeyes wondering why things haven't yet taken off for Jeff Hafley and Co. This weekend is going to have a heavy defensive feel to it and several of Ohio State's top remaining targets could be in a position to let their intentions be known.
We'll have an up-to-date visitor guide in the coming days, but the key prospects coming to town are many of the names we've had circled for several months now. The list will continue to evolve between now and Friday, but at the moment we've got a bit of a checklist for Ryan Day and the Ohio State staff heading into the weekend festivities.
Locking Down the Cali Stars
Ohio State's top corner target – and really one of the top overall targets in the entire class – is making the long journey from California to Columbus this weekend. The Buckeyes didn't sign a corner this past cycle and it's one of the more important position groups this time around. Clark Phillips III has been a priority target for several months now with Day and Jeff Hafley leading the charge.
Checking in as the nation's No. 4 cornerback, Phillips is considering a number of West Coast schools in addition to Ohio State and Notre Dame. The Buckeyes have been the team to beat for a while now and earlier today news broke that Phillips will be announcing his commitment on Friday at 3 p.m. Needless to say, this is going to be a big one for Ohio State.
Lejond Cavazos is already in the mix and he's a guy who could play corner or safety. A Phillips/Cavazos duo would be a heck of a start for Jeff Hafley and the Ohio State secondary. They could look to take three corners by the time all is said and done.
Another California four-star will also be in town, and St. John Bosco's Kourt Williams is also on commitment watch. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder is a bit of hybrid safety/linebacker who's being recruited to play the bullet position. Williams has been to Penn State, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma, and now the Buckeyes will get his final official visit.
Ohio State has had some recent success at St. John Bosco. Urban Meyer landed Wyatt Davis a few years back and had Jaiden Woodbey in the fold for the majority of the 2018 process before he ultimately flipped to a powerhouse Florida State team that went 5-7 during his freshman season.
Williams has really made a name for himself in this year's camp circuit. At The Opening regional event in Long Beach, he recorded a 4.60 in the forty, 4.09 shuttle, and a 39” vertical jump while taking home the event's top combine rating. He's looking to make a decision sometime this summer.
Shoring up the Safeties
One can make the argument that all three of Ohio State's top safety targets will be in town this weekend. Tucson, Arizona's Lathan Ransom and West Bloomfield, Michigan's Makari Paige are four-star prospects at the position. Muskegon athlete Cameron Martinez could end up at a number of different spots and safety is absolutely one of them.
Martinez seems like the best bet to make a decision, but he doesn't have an exact timetable in place. Ransom is also considering LSU, Notre Dame, and Texas with Ohio State getting his final official. Bijan Robinson is a five-star teammate of Ransom's and the top tailback target for both the Longhorns and Buckeyes. The recruitment is in no way a package deal, but nabbing Ransom certainly wouldn't hurt.
Paige's recruitment seems to be coming down to the usual Big Ten powers, but perhaps yesterday's Oklahoma offer could complicate things a bit? He took an official to Penn State last week and now it's Ohio State's turn to impress. The Buckeyes would love to grab a pair of safeties but could potentially take all three if Martinez were to come in as an athlete.
Securing the State
Plenty of local prospects will also be in town this weekend, including top targets for both the 2020 and 2021 classes. Cincinnati's Darrion Henry will be back and he could make a decision anytime in the coming weeks. After flirting with a number of SEC schools, there appears to be very little doubt surrounding Henry's ultimate destination.
The 2021 crop is going to be even more impressive with Ben Christman, Lorenzo Styles, and A.J. Kirk all on campus. Christman was just in South Bend last week and Ohio State has had its struggles when going head to head with the Irish for offensive linemen. He's the country's No. 3 tackle for the 2021 class and an early commitment would be a very big deal for Ryan Day and Greg Studrawa.
Just about everyone has Kirk penciled into the class now that Ohio State has extended an offer. The Dublin Coffman defender has the look of someone who can play the bullet spot down the road. I'm not sure if a decision is coming this soon, but again there's not a whole lot of doubt with this one. Styles may be in a bit of a tough spot given the wide receiver talent the Buckeyes have already and the guys at the top of the board for 2021. The legacy is likely to end up at Ohio State or Notre Dame.
Keep Chipping Away
Some interesting news dropped Monday night when Rivals.com's Marc Givler reported that the nation's top tailback will be in town for a visit. Houston's Zachary Evans has the Buckeyes among his favorites, but most expect him to end up somewhere in the SEC. Still, getting the five-star on campus for an unofficial is a big first step for Tony Alford as he continues to chase Bijan Robinson and Kendall Milton.
Gee Scott seems to be the talk of Twitter lately with highlight play after highlight play. The four-star wideout will be in Columbus this weekend and four-star teammate Sam Adams II is expected to be in tow. Adams it the country's No. 16 tailback and Ohio State is one of his top options. Most have the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder pegged to the Huskies, but anything can happen when you get them on campus.
Deerfield Beach all-purpose back Jaylan Knighton is nearing a decision and he's stated it could come anytime within the next week. He's fresh off a trip to Tallahassee and that's where most seem to have him landing. Can Ohio State knock this one out of the park and help to remedy the problematic 2020 state of running back recruiting?
He's not a bell cow like Milton or Robinson but would absolutely be a nice all-purpose kind of weapon. This is the kind of recruitment that could have potentially been an Urban Meyer special. Perhaps Ryan Day can say the same?
Spread the Wealth
This one is somewhat obvious, but I imagine it can prove quite difficult for the staff. Every year there are one or two events that draw in an abnormally high number of visitors. Friday's "Buckeye Barbecue Bash" looks to be one of the weekend's big draws, but things are going to be running just about non-stop from Friday through Sunday.
There are only so many coaches, assistants, and support staff members, so I can only imagine the difficulty when hosting the sheer number of prospects that are expected in Columbus this weekend. Obviously Ohio State is as good as anyone when it comes to hosting these things – as we've seen time and time again with Friday Night Lights – but the staff will need to make sure all of the top targets and families are feeling the love and comfort while in town.
I think back to yesteryear when guys like Raekwon McMillan and Curtis Samuel were pretty much attached to Urban Meyer and Mark Pantoni's hips the entire time while other visitors/campers were also doing their things. Clearly Ohio State will have a plan in place, but the magnitude of such a weekend has to be a lot to handle; especially with families traveling in from across the country.