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.
Last week's first edition of the Friday Mailbag was overall a solid success, enough to bring it back for another round, anyway.
With Ohio State having a Friday night game, there wasn't room for a nightly Hurry Up, so I pushed the weekly mailbag to Sunday. So it's the Friday Mailbag: Sunday Edition. Sort of like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Anyway, here's this week's mailbag, and as a shameless plug, I was still busy Friday night, taking photos and putting together a full gallery from the Buckeyes' win over Northwestern. Check it out.
Buckeyes going up against academic schools
Less than 48 hours after Ohio State beat the brakes off Northwestern on Friday night, it seems prudent to talk about how the Buckeyes stack up against schools of high academic reputation on the recruiting trail.
It’s a topic Ryan Day was asked about earlier this week, but I wanted to wait to talk about it until today – there were other more important things to discuss throughout the week.
Day was asked about the Buckeyes' national recruiting going up against schools like Stanford and Northwestern in the past few years.
"Well, I think the best thing about Ohio State when you’re recruiting right now is not only can you recruit throughout the country and the reputation that we have on the field, but also off the field and what we’re doing academically," Day said. "So what’s happened is we have opened up our recruiting to really everybody, but the thing that we’re doing is we’re competing against some of the top academic schools year in and year out for some of the best student-athletes.
"And I think what everyone is finding is not only the networking and the reach that Ohio State has and the power of our alumni is really great, but also what a great academic school Ohio State is, and all the different things and majors and different areas that guys can come in and do a great job in competing at the highest level but also then competing at the highest level in the classroom. That really has opened up a lot of doors for us and a lot of opportunities recruiting different people."
So ... what does that have to do with the question above?
I'm focusing on Emeka Egubka from the question.
Egbuka has been the most impressive prospect I've seen on film thus far in the past month of watching players the Buckeyes are recruiting. And after watching Ohio State over the past seven weeks and the way they use Garrett Wilson, I'm more convinced that both Julian Fleming and Egbuka could make an instant impact when they step on campus as freshmen.
I think Egubka is the Buckeyes' top 2021 receiver target – yes, he's listed as an athlete but he's almost certainly going to be a receiver in college – and is right up there with Fleming and Gee Scott Jr. as the two best offensive recruits who could be coming to Columbus over the next two years.
Egubka is a highly intelligent kid. He's a junior at Steilacoom High School in Washington with a 4.0 GPA, and Stanford is one of the schools in his final top 10.
Egbuka was the first player Stanford offered in the 2021 class, which says plenty about how he does in the classroom.
Maybe it's not necessarily crucial for the Buckeyes to haul in Egubka with the outstanding 2020 receiver class coming in. But if Day wants his offense to hum along in the same capacity it is right now, getting a versatile weapon like Egbuka would be the polishing piece allowing the Buckeyes to do that.
But academics sounds like it will be a major factor for Egbuka, so Ohio State's recent success in that area could help it land the top talent. Ohio State received a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA earlier this year for ranking in the top 10 among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools in Academic Progress Rate, and the school's average ACT score is 29.2. Ohio State's Real Life Wednesdays program, which provides off-field opportunities for Buckeye football players, has also been a big hit on the recruiting trail.
"I think when people come in and see our campus and get to meet with our academic people and understand what a beautiful place this is but also the power that it has academically, I think that they learn more and more about it," Day said. "I think the closer you get to Ohio State, the more they know that, in the Midwest and everything like that. I think the reputation speaks for itself. But it is great to get people who are in different parts of the country to come in and show them what we have."
At the time you asked this question, my resounding answer would have been Jahmyr Gibbs.
Tony Alford traveling down to visit Gibbs in Georgia during the Buckeyes' off week made a bit of an impact on Gibbs ... and then Alabama came calling.
Gibbs, who a few days ago moved up from a three-star prospect to a four-star rating, is apparently very high on Alabama, telling AL.com's Randy Kennedy, “I’m very excited to be hearing from Bama. If they come after me hard, I’d say there’s a strong chance of them being who I choose.”
Considering the Crimson Tide already have two 2020 running back commits, it says something about Gibbs' talent that they are pursuing him this late in the process.
It still seems the Buckeyes have a good shot at getting Gibbs to flip, but we'll see how he's feeling after his upcoming visit for the Maryland game Nov. 9.
My feeling is that Tennessee eventually still lands Tyler Baron, especially if the Volunteers can show some signs of life and the coaching staff stays intact.
So my answer here is *drumroll please* ... CJ Stroud.
There still seems like there's a long way to go here (in a short amount of time), but it's sounding like Stroud is very high on Ohio State and won't have any problems competing with Jack Miller for a starting job in two years if he does come to Columbus.
I'm going to stick with Stroud and see if I go 2-for-2.
Clearing up Styles comments
The reason I’m addressing this question – which is similar to the same question many of you had – is because you guys respectfully disagreed to what I had to say about Lorenzo Styles Jr. last week. If you guys do that, you’re usually going to get an explanation or reasoning from me.
When it came to Styles' projected college decision – which did end up being Notre Dame – I said that if I was him, I would want to leave the Columbus area and eschew an opportunity with Ohio State in lieu of having new experiences.
I completely meant what I said. But I didn’t dive into enough detail so here’s further explanation:
I believe you can learn so much about yourself by moving away from where you've been living your whole life (or almost your whole life) and experience new things. Getting outside of your comfort zone can tell you so much about yourself that you never knew was there. Like I said in my opening AMA, I moved to Connecticut knowing zero people, and it helped me grow as a person.
So, my point of saying that if I was Styles I would go to Notre Dame was to explain that I completely understand where he's coming from if that's one of the main reasons he's going there. (Yes, it's only 4.5 hours away from Pickerington Central to South Bend, but it's still a brand-new experience out of your comfort zone, and it can be very beneficial.)
The football reasons for his decision seem clear. He's going to get more opportunities to play wide receiver at Notre Dame, where he won't have quite as much of a logjam to compete against at the position.
I still think receivers have a better shot at developing their skill set and going to the pros if they choose Ohio State, as do most players at (fill in position) for as long as this coaching staff is in place. And I don't think moving away to a different place at a young age is for everyone.
But if you think you're built for it, I think it's a great decision. And that was my overarching point last Friday.