Heat Check: A Major Board Overhaul Following Six New Commitments and a Fruitful Month on the Trail

By Andrew Ellis on July 2, 2019 at 2:15 pm
Five-star tailback Bijan Robinson is our new No. 1 for the 2020 class.

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.

When we reached the month of June, Ohio State's 2020 recruiting class was No. 9 in the country. Ryan Day has since added six new commitments and the Buckeyes have surged up to No. 4 and remains atop the Big Ten. 

So what went down in the month that was? Ohio State received commitments from cornerback Clark Phillips III, defensive linemen Darrion Henry and Ty Hamilton, linebacker Cody Simon, tackle Grant Toutant, and kicker Jake Seibert. Needless to say, business was booming in June.

The Buckeyes now have 15 commitments in the fold in a class that is expected to get to 25 and likely beyond. If you like what went down in June, then you're sure to love what's to come in July. Ryan Day seems poised to add at least three new commitments—and that's just within the next 72 hours. When all is said and done, we'll likely look back to July as the biggest month of the cycle.

All of last month's action has led to a major overhaul on our recruiting board, and several of the top targets are set to make their intentions known in the coming weeks. There's a very real chance the Class of 2020 is almost complete by month's end. 

LATHAN RANSOM SAF 2 8 ★★★★ Texas•Notre Dame
KOURT WILLIAMS OLB 3 7 ★★★★ Penn State•Tennessee•TAMU
MOOKIE COOPER WR 4 6 ★★★★ Illinois•Texas•USC
JAYLAN KNIGHTON RB 5 NA ★★★★ Florida State•Miami
CAMERON MARTINEZ ATH 6 9 ★★★ Northwestern•Michigan•ND
KEDRICK BINGLEY-JONES DL 7 11 ★★★★ North Carolina•Florida•Duke
JACOLBE COWAN DL 8 NA ★★★★ Georgia•North Carolina
JOE ROYER TE 9 NA ★★★ Arizona State•Penn State
MITCHELL MELTON OLB/DE 10 10 ★★★ Michigan•Notre Dame
JOSH FRYAR OL 11 NA ★★★ Penn State•Purdue•Indiana

*Last month's edition can be found HERE. 

Tony Alford is still looking for a pair of tailbacks and to say that things are heating up with Bijan Robinson would be an understatement. The five-star Tucson product has surged to No. 1 on our board as the Buckeyes continue to duke it out with Texas and Southern California.

So what do we know right now? 

Robinson took official visits to all three schools last month with Ohio State being the first to play host. The Longhorns have looked like the top contender and Tom Herman got the last official. That's typically not the best timing (as we saw with Kendall Milton), but a funny thing happened with this one. Ohio State was confident when Robinson headed to Austin and felt the exact same way coming out of the visit. 

Is this one a slam dunk? Not quite, but things are certainly looking good at the moment. Robinson is in decision mode and rumor has it he's not quite sold on Texas as a national title contender. Columbus is quite a ways from Tucson but at this point there's no reason to think that will be a deciding factor. A July decision could spell good news for Tony Alford. 

Sticking in the backfield, all-purpose back Jaylan Knighton makes his debut at No. 5 and it's a Buckeyes/Seminole battle for the Florida four-star with Miami also in the mix. Knighton was in Columbus right before the dead period and now has a commitment date set for July 30. There's been some crystal ball activity in favor of the good guys, but this is a South Florida recruitment that should still have some twists and turns.

Does he make it back to Tallahassee after the dead period ends on the 24th? That wouldn't be the best news for the Buckeyes. Knighton had previously been committed to Oklahoma and is a priority target for both Ryan Day and Willie Taggart. At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he's not a guy who's going to tote the rock 20+ times per game, but he's the ideal RB2 for the class. It's worth noting that Florida State is having some major struggles on the trail these days.

Four-star safety Lathan Ransom is all the way up to No. 2. Checking in as the nation's fourth-best safety, he's on track to announce his decision on July 16 (which is his 17th birthday) at the very latest. Texas and Notre Dame are the competition in this one but most believe the Buckeyes will be the choice later this month. Getting him in the fold certainly wouldn't hurt with his teammate, but there's been no indication that Ransom and Robinson are any sort of package deal.

Kourt Williams is the top target at the hybrid bullet spot and the Buckeyes certainly still seem like the heavy favorite in this one. The California four-star jumps up to No. 3 on our board and is one of the country's more impressive athletes. Already at 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds, he seems like a guy who ends up in the 235 range and playing more of an outside backer role. He too is in decision mode and is expected to announce before the end of summer. 

Ohio State's 2020 wide receiver class is already the best in the country as Brian Hartline continues to work his magic. If there's one thing missing from the group, it's a true slot wideout that can take over the middle of the field. It's become abundantly clear that four-star St. Louis receiver Mookie Cooper is the guy the staff wants to be that fourth signee at wideout, and it's looking increasingly likely that it will happen. 

Cooper was planning to take his recruitment into the fall but has now elected to push things up and make a decision this summer. He's being a bit secretive about things, but he has a top two – which is almost assuredly Ohio State and Illinois – and is planning a visit for after the dead period. To make things even more interesting, he's also looking to commit at that time. This one is looking very good Brian Hartline and the Buckeyes.

Cameron Martinez continues to fly under the radar a bit even though he's absolutely one of the staff's top priorities. The high school quarterback and Michigan's player of the year is someone who brings positional versatility and is being recruited as an athlete. Where does he ultimately end up? Safety or wideout seem to be the most likely options and I'm betting that he'll hop on board any day now. 

Larry Johnson has two defensive linemen in the fold right now and both hail from the Buckeye State. It's tough to get a feel for how things will finish out in the trenches, but a pair of North Carolina standouts remain right up toward the top of the list. Is Ohio State the favorite for Kedrick Bingley-Jones or Jacolbe Cowan? Hardly. But nabbing either one of the teammates would be a major win for LJ and the staff. 

We don't have him on the board because he's likely to remain in Texas, but Houston's Vernon Broughton may very well be the top overall target along the defensive line. He was in Columbus a few weeks back and seems to be nearing a decision. It's probably going to be the Longhorns or Aggies, but this one is at least worth watching.

Joe Royer won the tight end battle at last month's camp and it should only be a matter of time for the Cincinnati (Elder) product. He was in town on June 21 for an official and a decision between Ohio State and Arizona State should come any day now. Still a composite three-star, he saw his stock soar on the 247Sports rankings where he's now a four-star and the country's third-best tight end. 

Olney, Maryland's Mitchell Melton is likely the next name to join the commitment list. Already 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, the Maryland linebacker is a prospect who could grow into more of a pass rusher. This one is between the Buckeyes, Wolverines, and Fighting Irish; all of whom received official visits last month. It's been a bit of back and forth between Ohio State and Michigan, but it's looking like Al Washington will win out in the end. Melton is set to announce Wednesday.

An Independence Day announcement is also on the itinerary for three-star lineman Josh Fryar, and he's been heavily trending in Ohio State's direction since last month's official. About a month ago we said that Michael Carmody or Fryar would be the ideal candidate for the sixth offensive line slot. Carmody elected to join his brother in South Bend and the focus is undoubtedly on the 6-foot-5, 294-pounder who is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in Indiana.

Don't let the position fool you with this one. Yes, Fryar is listed as a center and plays the position at Beech Grove High, but he's a guy who could project at a number of slots along the line. Ohio State wanted another tackle in the class and Fryar seems like a candidate to play any interior spot or perhaps even right tackle. A commitment should put the finishing touches on the offensive line recruiting. 

So, the class is going to look quite different by the end of the week; let alone by the end of the month. When August comes around Ryan Day and the Ohio State staff could have just about all of the pieces in place and will of course work to keep all of them in the fold. Then they could focus on a couple of five-star LSU commits that they'd absolutely love to flip. 

It's about to be a busy few days on the trail. Enjoy your July 4th festivities, folks. 

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