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.
Hicks looking forward to recruitment
I traveled over to Kettering on Tuesday to talk with Archbishop Alter star defensive back/linebacker C.J. Hicks, a five-star sophomore ranked as Ohio’s No. 1 prospect in the 2022 class.
During the practice, a pair of Hicks’ younger teammates were talking on the sidelines.
One asked, “Is he a real five-star?”
“Yeah, he is.”
“How do you know?”
“I just know.”
When told of their interaction, Hicks just flashed a quick grin and chuckled. At just 15 years old, Hicks is still in the beginning stages of his recruitment, so it doesn’t bother him that people may question his rating.
That’s what comes with the territory of carrying such a high rating before playing a down as a high school sophomore.
“That was my freshman year, and they were going based off how I did in camps and stuff that summer, so I still have three more years to prove I really am a five-star,” Hicks told Eleven Warriors.
Hicks’ recruitment hit a turning point during that camp he references, the Mercer Elite Camp, this June down in Macon, Georgia.
Going into the camp holding just one offer from Cincinnati, Hicks blew up that week, picking up six offers there and kickstarting his transformation into a national recruit. With that week’s eye-popping performance came the five-star billing that helped turn the 6-foot-4, 210-pounder into the country’s No. 3-ranked athlete and No. 24-ranked overall sophomore, per 247Sports.
Fast forward to Oct. 2, and Hicks now holds 15 offers, highlighted by Miami, Iowa, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Purdue and West Virginia.
Missing from that list is coveted Ohio State, a program that has been recruiting Hicks since the tail end of his freshman year at Alter, when Ryan Day, Kevin Wilson and Tony Alford each showed up at the school for a visit.
Day told Hicks he wanted to see how he performed during his sophomore season before an offer came. So Hicks knows he’s going to have to work to earn the offer, but if and when the offer does come, he still doesn’t want to rush anything.
“Yeah, I want the offer,” Hicks said. “But it’s not gonna change my recruiting or whatever. I’m still gonna wait until the end of my junior year to commit then. It’s not, as soon as I get an offer that I’m gonna commit then. I’m still gonna wait and see.
“I just wanna keep all my doors open because I wanna wait until the end of my junior year. I can’t go on any officials until my junior year, so I’m just gonna wait. Once I get all my officials done with, I’m gonna talk to my mom and see which one fits me best.”
Hicks turns 16 in December, so he still has plenty of time to grow and improve on the field. During that time, perhaps a position will truly solidify itself, as he plays both defensive back and outside linebacker at Alter.
“I’ve just gotta continue to prove myself because the teams I play against, they always put me on their best player,” Hicks said. “I’ve just gotta continue to improve myself. That’s really all it is. Since I blew up over the summer, everybody wants to see what I can do.
“I like it though. There’s pressure, and pressure makes diamonds.”
More players announce visits to Columbus
In one of the biggest recruiting weekends for Ohio State this season, a key group of players is heading into Columbus for the Buckeyes’ battle with Michigan State.
Rodney McGraw of Elkhart (Ind.) Central High School may not be a known, marquee name on that list yet, but Indiana’s No. 5-ranked 2021 player is looking to change that going forward. That starts with getting himself to Columbus for the second time this year, following a visit in June.
The four-star defensive end, ranked the 18th-best junior defensive end in the country and the 309th-best overall recruit for the class of 2021, will be in the Shoe on Saturday for what should be a raucous environment highlighted by a blackout as the Buckeyes don their black jerseys and ask fans to wear black as well.
“I’m really excited to see the atmosphere for the blackout and to meet the coaches in person,” McGraw told Eleven Warriors. “I have talked to the coaches on the phone, and I like the energy and excitement.”
At 6-foot-6, 223 pounds, McGraw is a big-bodied prospect who holds 13 total offers, including from Michigan and Penn State, but does not yet have one from Ohio State.
McGraw, having only played organized football for two years, recorded 45 tackles and four forced fumbles as a sophomore. He received his offer from Michigan on Sept. 5 just prior to the Wolverines’ narrow 24-21 win over Army. That came just three days after he received his Penn State offer.
All four will be able to see Larry Johnson’s coaching up close as Johnson leads an impressive defensive line group that is catching McGraw’s eye.
“I love the production Ohio State gets from the defensive end position and the way their guys produce at the next level,” McGraw said.
Another big name to add to the list of recruits coming to Columbus this weekend: Bucknuts' Bill Kurelic reported 2021 four-star running back Donovan Edwards will be at the game against Michigan State, as well.