The Hurry Up: Kade Renfro in “serious” Talks with Ohio State, Donovan Jackson Releases Top-12

By Taylor Lehman on July 9, 2019 at 6:30 pm
Donovan Jackson
Donovan Jackson

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.

Donovan Jackson Releases Top-12

Texas offensive tackle Donovan Jackson released his top-12 list Monday, and Ohio State was included among a group that also included Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Texas. 

That’s significant for the Buckeyes in the No. 7 2021 offensive tackle’s recruitment because the staff has changed completely from the primary recruiters he was dealing with since receiving his offer in eighth grade. That offer was extended by Greg Schiano, and Jackson also had a good relationship with Urban Meyer. 

But he was in Columbus from Bellaire, Texas, in April for the Ohio State spring game, and it left a lasting impression for the 6-foot-4, 308-pound lineman.

“I expected to get the same spiel I get from other visits, but Coach (Greg Studrawa) and Coach (Ryan) Day made it known that I have a home at OSU,” Jackson told Eleven Warriors in April. 

That “home” is also close to family. His mother’s side of the family is from and still resides in Cincinnati.

Jackson had a solid performance at The Opening Finals as one of only a few participants from the 2021 class. He won the offensive line MVP award to sweep the linemen MVPs with fellow 2021 prospect Korey Foreman. Jackson also ran the shuttle in 4.63 seconds and jumped 32.2 inches in the vertical jump – both good marks for an offensive lineman.

Bijan Robinson Sets Commitment Date

Earlier today it was reported by 247Sports that five-star running back Bijan Robinson will be committing on Aug. 2. He's expected to be selecting between Ohio State, Texas and USC, but he appears to be leaning toward Ohio State.

You can read more about his commitment date here, but he told Eleven Warriors that his official to Ohio State on June 14 was "amazing." As Kendall Milton and Zach Evans appear to be looking elsewhere and basically immediate playing time could be available for a five-star running back, the Buckeyes would be a good landing spot for Robinson.

Jaylan Knighton also appears to be the other back leaning Ohio State in the class, as it looks more and more like a two-running back class rather than three. 

Robinson is the teammate of four-star safety Lathan Ransom, who will commit July 16 and is anticipated to pick the Buckeyes. Ransom has expressed a desire to play with his teammate at the next level but that neither would change their decision to play together. They might get the best of both worlds.

Kade Renfro Details Ohio State Talks, Upcoming Season

Ryan Day and Ohio State could potentially add another quarterback to their 2020 class, with Gunnar Hoak and – potentially – Justin Fields set to leave the program after the 2020 season. At that point, 2020 commit Jack Miller and 2021 commit Kyle McCord are the only two scholarship quarterbacks set to be on the roster. That’s less than ideal for the Buckeyes.

But with the scholarship window growing smaller and smaller before Ohio State hits the 25 mark, and prospects like Bijan Robinson, Lathan Ransom, Kourt Williams and Jaylan Knighton looking strongly at the Buckeyes, weighing whether a backup quarterback is more significant than a shot at a big-time recruit – say a five-star edge rusher like Desmond Evans – becomes a serious conversation. 

But there is one option that could not only be a legitimate backup quarterback but will also buy Ohio State some time while he plays for offers in his senior season – North Texas quarterback commit Kade Renfro.

Renfro is an interesting case nationally. Out of nearly 60 quarterbacks to participate in the Elite 11 Regionals in Houston this spring, he was named MVP. That was a year after he suffered a hip injury on both sides of his body – his left side in the spring 2018 and his right side during two-a-days in the summer. 

It was classified as a growth plate injury that tore his muscle and pulled his cartilage away on both sides. It prevented him from attending camps and nearly kept him out for his entire junior season, if not for his backup breaking his foot.

Stephenville went went 5-2 with Renfro at 60 percent. He couldn't run the ball, but he threw for 1,840 yards and 17 touchdowns on 105-for-163 passing for a 7-4 season. 

Now, he’s “fully healed” and ready to prove to Power Five programs that he’s worthy of scholarships, and Ohio State is one of the schools that have shown that interest. 

“They’re getting pretty serious,” Renfro told Eleven Warriors. “Just waiting to see how the season goes. It’s up to Coach Day now, and Coach Yurich has been talking to me now for quite a bit.”

Yurcich reached out to Renfro after his Elite 11 performance in March, which was about a month before Matthew Baldwin entered his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal and Gunnar Hoak announced his transfer to Ohio State while Kyle McCord decided to commit to the Buckeyes as well. 

Jack Miller has said he would be okay if Ohio State brought in another 2020 quarterback, and Ohio State has made it clear that Miller is still its guy at the position. Anyone committing at this point would need to enter with the understanding that it would be a long process in earning the starting spot from Miller.

Renfro is fine with that, he said, as long as he eventually earned his fair competition.

“I wouldn't say I’m concerned about it,” he said. “I compete really well. I like having that competition in the room. Whoever the best man is comes out and wins. I just want it to be a fair competition. That’s all I could hope for.”

Renfro is gaining more Power Five interest as the weeks go by. Florida State, Washington State, Michigan State and Texas A&M are all serious schools approaching Renfro, and Florida State seems like it’s on the verge of extending the offer, even though it already has the commitment of No. 10 quarterback Jeff Sims. 

Renfro was at Ohio State’s second one-day camp June 15, and while he didn’t leave with an offer, Ryan Day expressed his need to see him continue to develop throughout his last season at Stephenville High School. 

“I feel like my body didn’t have time to mature,” Renfro said about his injury. “Already this spring, putting on more pounds, I feel like I could’ve done that last spring, but all in all, I feel like I’m better from that as a quarterback, in just learning how to overcome adversity.”

Renfro could be one of the perfect scenarios for Ohio State to evaluate what it would like to do with its scholarships before the time comes for Renfro to sign with a program, and Renfro, who certainly won’t be a finished product by the time his high school career is over, is a quarterback who wants to be developed. He’s undoubtedly going to need to be developed coming out of high school because of how his injury set him back.

He’s currently working with quarterbacks coach Sean Salisbury, who played at Southern California and in the NFL and CFL, in the Houston area. Stephenville is also going through coaching changes, so his new quarterbacks coach will be Kelan Luker, who played for Southern Methodist and was a quarterbacks coach at Florida in 2013. He threw for 4,697 yards in 1998 – just 16 yards shy of Kyler Murray’s highest single-season total – and led Stephenville to a state title. 

It will take time before any ground is made on this front, but time is on Ohio State’s side in Renfro’s case, and he said he’s prepared to take on whatever role a program offers him.

“I know my abilities and what I can do on a football field,” Renfro said. “And if they think that I believe I’m best at positions one or two, then I’m confident I can prove that I can be the guy out there.”

Greg Penn to Visit Ohio State July 27

Greg Penn, the No. 3 inside linebacker in the 2021 class, announced via Twitter that he will be making a visit to Ohio State on July 27, just three days after the dead period is set to finish. 

The No. 113 nationally ranked player in the class also tagged Ohio State quarterback commit Kyle McCord in the tweet. The two met in eighth grade when they played in the All-America game, and now McCord is doing his best to bring him to Ohio State too.

“He’s a great guy and obviously a great quarterback,” Penn told Eleven Warriors. “I would love to play with him and go against him in practice every day.”

There likely won’t be an early commitment from Penn, though. Not like McCord’s. He already has offers from at least 24 schools, including Alabama, Michigan, LSU, Florida and others, so he will explore those options before pulling the trigger on a program. 

He also just received his offer from Ohio State in May after beginning his relationship with Larry Johnson when he was in seventh grade. He detailed that relationship to Eleven Warriors after receiving that offer. 

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