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.
Clark Phillips commits to Ohio State
No. 4 2020 cornerback Clark Phillips announced his commitment to Ohio State on Friday afternoon via cbssports.com, and while it isn’t too much of a surprise and might be easy to be complacent in expectation of multiple commitments this weekend, it’s important to realize exactly who Ohio State has gotten with this commitment.
A summary of what kind of a player Phillips is can best be found here, but Ohio State earned one of its top overall targets in the 2020 class with Phillips.
He’s not the quickest or the most athletic cornerback, but he is one of the smartest. What he gives up in athleticism, he makes up for with instinct, knowledge of the position and strength.
The first thing someone notices when watching his tape is that most of it is him playing wide receiver. There’s reason for that. Phillips recorded seven interceptions in eight games as a sophomore in 2017. Nobody was throwing his direction in 2018.
The best way to use his athleticism and make him a contributor was to line him up at receiver. His junior year was his first time having a full-time role as a receiver within La Habra’s offense, and he caught 54 passes, for 1,210 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Within his time at receiver, the best skill to take away is his ability to make catches in traffic. When defensive backs are crashing down or there is a 50/50 ball he needs to high-point, Phillips typically comes down with it. He has very strong hands a an anchored center of gravity that some of the most athletic cornerback scoring out of high school don’t have, and what makes Phillips so good is that he knows how to leverage his strengths. Receivers won’t be pushing Phillips around often, and quarterbacks won’t be fooling him often either.
Most importantly, though, Phillips represents secondary coach Jeff Hafley’s first West Coast commitment. Hafley brought those ties to Columbus when he was hired in January, and a big selling point for his hire was that Ohio State would be able to better tp into the California pipeline. Hafley showed with Phillips’ commitment that he can do that well enough to bring a top-50 prospect to Ohio.
Jayden Ballard Commits to Ohio State
This one was a long time coming. Massillon four-star wide receiver Jayden Ballard announced his commitment to Ohio State via Twitter on Friday, around 10 minutes before Clark Phillips announced his own.
Brian Hartline jumped on Ballard's recruitment early and gripped it tight. Hartline's relationship with the Massillon staff and the staffs in the surrounding area – he grew up near Canton – helped a lot with maintaining Ohio State at the top of Ballard's list.
Following The Opening Regionals in Massillon on March 31, Massillon head coach Nate Moore told Ballard to contact Hartline about his day, and while Hartline was in Massillon for the Massillon Showcase on May 1, the coaching staff was very friendly and comfortable with the receivers coach, even letting him hand-time one of Ballard's 40-yard dashes.
Combining that with the way Hartline and Ballard have already established a player-coach chemistry, this commitment was a no-brainer. Ballard is also only a couple hours away from Columbus.
Ballard was playing in the Ohio State 7-on-7 camp Monday, and he couldn't be stopped. In a 7-on-7 setting, where speed and agility separates the good from the great, Ballard is elite. He moves more gracefully and is more precise on his routes than a sophomore in high school typically is. He just needs to add some weight to his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame.
Ballard also becomes the first of what will be a very good 2021 class that Hartline is putting together. If Ballard wanted to be a part of it, he needed to pull the trigger quickly.
For more on Ballard, check out the individual post about his impact on the 2021 recruiting class here.
Buckeye Bash & Barbecue details
Buckeye Bash & Barbecue proved to be quite different than Friday Night Lights.
With little known about the camp scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., except that Ohio State hoped to establish a good foundation for the 2021 class, the event took place in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center instead of Ohio Stadium, where it was said to take place on Ohio State's website. The event however seemed to have no timetable.
With no media access allowed, Eleven Warriors was able to gather that the camp wasn’t a traditional camp setting, where high school prospects come to showcase their skills for exposure and potentially some offers, or where area college coaches can come to assess the talent that participates. And where Friday Night Lights was an opportunity for many local campers to participate in a camp while official visitors or top targets attended, Buckeye Bash & Barbecue was focused on the top targets of the 2020 and 2021 classes.
Only around 20 prospects were at the event on an invite-only basis, so the list of expected visitors provided in yesterday’s Hurry Up was a majority of the campers invited.
Gauging by social media, Jaxon Smith-Njigba arrived at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center just after 9 a.m. He arrived with Lejond Cavazos and Gee Scott Jr., and the three had a photoshoot. They also lamented the fact that Julian Fleming could not be at the event. He will likely be in Columbus tonight.
Scott also went through a workout during his time at the barbecue, which was allowed because he was considered to be on an unofficial visit.
Tunmise Adeleye took tours of the facilities, including the Ohio State locker room and Ohio Stadium, which he posted to Instagram about around 2 p.m.
Zachary Evans Calls Off Trip to Columbus
He made an unofficial visit to Texas on Thursday and will be visiting Texas A&M this weekend instead of Ohio State.