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.
Decommitted Miami four-star “sky high” on Ohio State
When Jaiden Francois committed to the University of Miami in early February, the Floridian senior out of nearby South Dade High School never felt truly comfortable.
With his hometown of Homestead just a 40-minute drive south of the campus in Coral Gables, he felt like he didn’t have much of a choice but to commit to the Hurricanes.
That’s what led the four-star 2020 cornerback, ranked as the No. 24 corner in the country and the No. 50 recruit out of Florida, to decommit from Manny Diaz’s program last week and reopen his recruitment.
On Wednesday, Francois explained his decision to Eleven Warriors.
“The decision to decommit came because I felt like I rushed to commit to Miami,” Francois said. “Being a hometown kid is a lot of pressure. I felt like I had to do what was best for the city and not what's best for me. Although I like UM, I put all my eggs in one basket before looking at other schools.”
This has been a crazy journey. My mind and heart has been all over the place. I need to make sure I'm making the best decision for me and not for everyone else. My recruitment is open. Will announce my decision on national signing day. Thank you.— 2 (@jHumble22) October 4, 2019
Francois is a 6-foot, 184-pounder who ran a 4.62 in the 40 at The Opening two weeks after his Miami commitment and has registered marks of 4.30 in the shuttle and a 33.20-inch vertical.
Francois has been on the Buckeyes’ radar for a while, and that has been reciprocated. He took an unofficial to Ohio State on June 6, and it made a lasting impression on him.
“My interest level is sky high with Ohio State,” Francois said. “I fell in love with everything about Ohio State and DBU on my unofficial visit; the coaches – Coach (Tony) Alford, Coach (Jeff) Hafley, Coach (Ryan) Day – the campus, the football facilities, the players, etc.
“I love what Ohio State stands for and the standard they have. Especially how they feel about The Team Up North. The atmosphere is like none other. I do plan to take another visit. My level of interest is high in committing to Ohio State.”
Francois is listed as a cornerback, but at Ohio State, he could be getting recruited as a safety. That remains to be seen.
OK so I buried the lede here, and I’m sorry. But I wanted you guys to get a picture of Francois’ recruiting profile, history and mindset.
Here’s why all of this is important – Francois says he is coming up to Columbus for an official visit for the Penn State game Nov. 23. That’s a big deal. The coaching staff isn’t going to dish out officials for somebody unless they’re truly pursuing them.
The Buckeyes are closing in on a complete 2020 recruiting class. With Jake Seibert expected to greyshirt, that leaves at least 4-6 spots open for the Buckeyes, and they are pursuing a second quarterback (see below), a running back, a defensive end and a cornerback to fill four spots.
They’re hoping to add a second running back and another defensive back before all is said and done, and that’s where Francois would come in.
Yes, I know you all want Elias Ricks to flip from LSU, and that would leave Ohio State with a star-studded class and perhaps the No. 1 overall class in the nation. That hope is buoyed by his association with IMG teammate Lejond Cavazos. Ohio State is going to keep an open spot for a potential Ricks flip or a spot for Kelee Ringo, but there’s a very, very small likelihood either will be coming to Ohio State.
1) He’s being recruited at safety since Lanthan Ransom is the only pure safety in the 2020 class and Cavazos is most likely moving from safety to cornerback in college.
2) He’s being recruited to cover that final defensive back spot the Buckeyes want to fill following a Watts commitment, as a complement to Watts.
3) He’s being recruited as a backup cornerback plan in the event Watts chooses Penn State or elsewhere.
There is no definitive answer yet whether he’s being recruited at corner or safety by the Buckeyes.
“I plan on coming up for the Penn State game, and I will discuss my future with the coaches on my visit,” Francois said.
Three-star 2021 safety Jaylen Johnson out of Cincinnati’s La Salle High School will not be committing for another seven months.
He is taking his time, remaining patient with it and will be announcing his decision on his father Jarvis’ birthday, May 22.
“That could be a birthday gift from me to my dad wherever I commit to because growing up, all my dad ever wanted to see me do was go to college and be an athlete,” Johnson told Eleven Warriors. “It’s special to him like it’s special to me.”
Johnson, who trains with his father in the gym every offseason, is comfortable with the recruiting process in part because of Jarvis’ past experiences.
Jarvis, who went to nearby Western Hill High School in Cincinnati, went through his own recruitment before accepting a Division I offer to play at Northern Illinois. The big linebacker’s career was unfortunately cut short due to a torn ACL and MCL as a sophomore, and he hung up his cleats to focus on getting his degree.
Despite the shortened college career, Jarvis has been able to impart some wisdom to his son about the entire process.
“He just says every coach tells you the same thing that you wanna hear,” Johnson said. “He wants me to stay in place, and he doesn’t want me to get a big head.”
Johnson holds at least a dozen offers, per 247Sports. He has visited Ohio State twice – for the Cincinnati game and Saturday’s Michigan State game – and has visited Kentucky and Cincinnati, with visits to Purdue coming this weekend and Penn State the following weekend.
He loves Ohio State, Kentucky and Cincinnati, but his patience remains, as the wait until May 22 has at least two more reasons behind it.
“One of the reasons is I wanna see if all of the schools that offered me will actually stay in contact with me and give me the same love they did on that same day they offered me,” Johnson said. “I’m just letting everything fall into place. I’m not rushing anything. I’m just letting everything literally fall into place. That’s why I haven’t committed anywhere.
This is the one time I’ll ever have this experience in my life. I just wanted to experience it.”
Stroud makes offer public
The offer alone does not signify an impending Buckeyes commitment, but they are in the driver’s seat.
Stroud visited for the Michigan State game with his personal quarterback trainer Quincy Avery, who has helped shuffle both Dwayne Haskins and Justin Fields to Ohio State.
That alone should help the Buckeyes’ chances of landing him. Stroud also already has rapport with the 2020 receivers. Stroud played on the same 7-on-7 team with Julian Fleming and Gee Scott Jr. in The Opening Finals this summer, and his relationship with them was built further after this weekend’s visit.
As most of you know, a commitment from Stroud would make him the second 2020 quarterback on the roster alongside Jack Miller, who has been committed since July 2018.
Miller and his father, Jack Sr., have never wavered in their statements that Miller is open to competition and is fine with the Buckeyes adding a second quarterback to this class.
When reached for comment about Stroud’s official offer announcement, Jack Sr. told Eleven Warriors the announcement was, essentially, no big deal. They’ve known for a while, he said. Ohio State’s staff has been open with the Miller family about their recruitment of Stroud.
Smith-Njigba receives honor
Senior four-star receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba racked up a significant honor that was announced late Tuesday. He was named the Dallas Morning News Mid-season Player of the Year for Class 6A.
The Rockwall (Texas) High School star is averaging nearly 200 yards receiving and three touchdowns on nine catches per game this season.