The Hurry Up: Ohio State Commits, Targets Prepare for The Opening Finals, Kaden Saunders Works at Defensive Back, Receiver for Buckeyes

By Taylor Lehman on June 28, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Lejond Cavazos
Lejond Cavazos

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.

The Opening Finals is Set to Begin

The Opening Finals is set to take place July 1-3 at The Star in Frisco, Texas, and Eleven Warriors will be there for updates. The Elite 11 will also take place at The Star on June 29-30, and Ohio State commit Jack Miller is on the roster.

While Miller will be at the event in Texas, 247Sports is reporting that Miller has suffered a minor latissimus dorsi strain, which could be worsened if he participates. He is still waiting on word regarding whether it would be advised to sit out or not. Regardless, he will be there and likely for recruiting reasons and to experience the atmosphere.

There will be several other Ohio State commits and targets from both the 2020 and 2021 classes at the event. I will write a more detailed list for Saturday morning, but for now, these are the recruits to expect in Texas.

  • Sam Adams
  • Vernon Broughton
  • Lejond Cavazos
  • Mookie Cooper
  • Jacolbe Cowan
  • Dekel Crowdus
  • Julian Fleming
  • Korey Foreman
  • Henry Gray
  • Donvan Jackson
  • Paris Johnson Jr.
  • Jaylan Knighton
  • Kendall Milton
  • Clark Phillips
  • Lathan Ransom
  • Elias Ricks
  • Gee Scott Jr.
  • Cody Simon
  • Maason Smith
  • Kourt Williams

Kaden Saunders Attends Ohio State's Camp

Westerville athlete Kaden Saunders has burst onto the 2022 scene as a dynamic playmaker who is usually the fastest player on the field. That reputation has earned him offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and other programs which will eventually make him one of the highest-rated prospects in the state.

Ohio State is already developing something more than extending an offer can provide, though. Linebackers coach and noted elite in-state recruiter Al Washington has been in contact with Saunders, and he was at Ohio State’s one-day camp June 15. 

“It means a lot,” Saunders said after the camp. “I try to get up here as often as I can, being that I live 15 minutes away. So I try to stay in contact with Coach Washington and meet with Coach Hartline and Coach Hafley. Those guys are really close to me.”

Saunders plays receiver at Westerville South, where he made 12 catches for 229 yards, ran the ball 27 times for 203 yards and returned 23 combined punts and kicks for a total of 464 yards. His role is expected to expand as he gets older.

But at the Ohio State camp, the Buckeyes tried him in an unusual position – cornerback. At 5-foot-10, 156 pounds, Saunders has the size and the agility to be an effective cornerback with development, and secondary coach Jeff Hafley has seen that. He spent all of the individual drills at cornerback, but Ohio State isn’t only looking at him as a cornerback, so he ran competition drills at receiver. 

If he isn’t already there, Saunders is expected to a sub-4.50 40-yarder by his junior year, but he pulled his hamstring in the winter and aggravated it at the Under Armour All-America Camp in Cincinnati in April. His time wasn’t where he wanted it to be in Columbus, he said.

“I’m trying to get over the mental hump, I think,” Saunders said. “I’m just trying to get back to full speed and have quick, explosive movements.”

The Westerville speedster was able to get solid feedback from both Halfey and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline too.

“Coach Hartline told me to work on the top end of my routes and some of my releases,” he said. “Coach Hafley told me to keep my hips low, my shoulders low, get in and out of my breaks a little bit faster.”

Housekeeping Updates

There are several notes regarding Ohio State targets that were somewhat lost in the mix of Buckeye Bash & Barbecue throughout the last week, but now that the dust has settled for the most part, we can finally take care of some news that didn't make it into last week's Hurry Ups.

EJ Smith

First, EJ Smith, son of Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith and the No. 4 all-purpose back in the 2020 class released his top-five, and it included Ohio State. Smith also added Stanford, Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida.

When it comes to the discussion of running backs in the 2020 class, Smith is one that frequently is left out of conversation, but now that targets like DeaMonte Trayanum, Blake Corum and JuTahn McClain are all committed and talks with Mike Drennen have slowed, Smith's intentions become more amplified. 

Tony Alford has a good relationship with Smith, and Smith has seen Ohio State play three times – at the 2018 spring game, against TCU at AT&T Stadium in Dallas and against Michigan in November. 247Sports is also reporting that he has nearly set an official visit for the Penn State game Nov. 23. That's the same weekend that LSU cornerback commit Elias Ricks will be making an official visit too.

It's looking like it will be a late decision for Smith, potentially a signing day decision, so the running back discussions aren't slowing down this summer.

Van Fillinger

Utah defensive end Van Fillinger released his top-six June 24. It included Ohio State, Texas, Utah, UCLA, Oregon and Michigan. Fillinger is rated as the No. 18 defensive end in the class and the No. 3 prospect coming out of Utah. 

He made an unofficial visit to Ohio State on May 17.

"I’ll probably do a lot of thinking and hope to commit before my season starts," Fillinger told Eleven Warriors about what's ahead in his decision-making process.

Corey Wren

New Orleans three-star athlete Corey Wren committed to Georgia over the weekend. He was on Ohio State's roster but wasn't the top prospect in the receiving role that he would've served for the Buckeyes. That top recruit is Mookie Cooper, and the Buckeyes are sitting well with him at this point.

Jalen McMillan

Jalen McMillan, the No. 45 overall prospect in the 2020 class, committed to Washington earlier this week. Ohio State wasn't pushing hard for McMillan, but he was certainly one of the top receiver the Buckeyes had offered to this point. Ohio State already has the majority of its wide receivers for the class, and Mookie Cooper could round it out if he decides on Ohio State over Illinois.

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