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.
Stellato shining in brand-new role
I’ve talked at length about the slot receiver position, and for good reason. It’s one of the most interesting offensive positions to watch going forward for the Buckeyes, and it’s fascinating to see who the types of guys they are targeting.
Obviously, one of the names we’ve brought up time and again on here is Troy Stellato out of Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) High School.
He’s one of the fastest-rising juniors in the country, and the Buckeyes offering him on Sept. 16 was one of the most clear examples of the domino effect and weight that an Ohio State offer can bring.
The whirlwind Stellato has experienced over the last month is one that he tells Eleven Warriors has been “very wild” because “20 schools have offered in this short amount of time so it’s a lot to take in.”
It quickly became a who’s-who list of schools with strong reputations for producing terrific receivers, including Alabama, LSU and Clemson along with the Buckeyes – all four of which are in his final top 12 that he released on Sunday.
Ohio State is figured to be closer to the top of that list than the bottom, or even the middle, and Stellato knows what he could bring to Brian Hartline’s stacked receivers room if he chooses the Buckeyes.
“I feel like I could help them a lot with making tough catches in the middle of the field,” Stellato said. “I’m not afraid to go in the middle, and my speed and my ability to split defenders could be huge for them.”
What makes Stellato’s rise more incredible is when you factor in that he has been thrown into a brand-new role at Cardinal Gibbons, and he has made it look easy. After playing at wideout his whole career, he has exploded onto the scene with 25 receptions for more than 500 yards and five touchdowns to lead his team to a 5-2 record.
“The season’s going good … I’m playing very well on the field,” Stellato said. “I’ve grown from playing the slot position this year because I’ve played outside pretty much my entire life.
“At first it was a little difficult because a lot of it is finding the weak spots in the zone and just having a good feel of where the most grass is. So that kind of took a little bit of time but I really have the hang of it now.”
He certainly does, and it’s making him a hot commodity for college offenses hoping to gain his services of the 6-foot, 172-pounder who runs a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash and has potential to be a top-of-the-line receiver.
After there were rumblings that Stellato may be moving closer to a commitment a few weeks ago, it looks as if the ascending 2021 talent is in a slow-down mode and won’t be committing until the offseason.
He says he doesn’t currently have any specific dates planned to visit Ohio State, but says, “I’m sure I’ll be up there soon.”
Making national recruits comfortable
Stellato is one of 20 Floridians the Buckeyes have offered in the 2021 class, and he resides in one of the 30 states – plus Washington D.C. – in which the program has offered a high school player in his class.
Ohio State recruits nationally, and the Buckeyes are successful in their strategy in a number of “duh, obvious” ways.
To name a few, they win at an elite rate, they are one of only a handful of programs in the hunt for a national championship every single season, and they put players at all positions into the NFL.
“I guess I play the role of making them see that it’s possible. ... You see guys from Florida or Texas making plays on the field, you know you’re not too far from home.” – Texas native Jeff Okudah on helping make Ohio State recruits feel at home in Columbus
But another key reason is because of sustained success from national recruits currently in the program, as their trickle-down effect is being noticed by upcoming talents.
Take the case of recent cornerback commit Ryan Watts III.
Ohio State now has a four-year streak of getting at least one player Texas in each class, dating back to the impressive five-man haul in 2017 of Jeff Okudah, Baron Browning, J.K. Dobbins, Kendall Sheffield and Ellijah Gardiner.
That was followed by Matthew Baldwin in 2018, Garrett Wilson in 2019, and in 2021 it could be Tunmise Adeleye, Landon Jackson or Donovan Jackson being the latest Lone Star prospect to traverse to Columbus, with Adeleye currently sounding like he’s the highest on Ohio State out of those three.
That could be followed by another in 2022 (see below).
So beyond the obvious reasons for wanting to come to the Buckeyes mentioned above, what makes these guys want to leave home for the Shoe?
A lot of it has to do with the comfort level from fellow natives to their respective states that they receive when they come to Ohio State for visits.
That was the case for Watts specifically, as the senior bonded with Okudah during his trips to Columbus and didn’t feel like this was a foreign territory. It felt like home because there was a piece of it already here in Okudah (even if he won’t be here when Watts is officially a Buckeye).
“I guess I play the role of making them see that it’s possible,” Okudah said. “A lot of guys might get nervous about making a move from the south or from the west all the way to Columbus. They just see that it’s possible. You see guys from Florida or Texas making plays on the field, you know you’re not too far from home. This team is really diverse as far as where the guys come from. You’ll find the guys to hang around and the comfortable fit in the locker room.”
Buckeyes offer 2022 corner
Austin Jordan – a 5-foot-11, 185-pound sophomore cornerback from Billy Ryan High School in Denton, Texas – announced an Ohio State offer via Twitter on Monday night.
Jordan is the second cornerback (Domani Jackson of Mater Dei High School in California is the other) and the third defensive back (safety Cristian Driver of Liberty Christian High School in Texas) the Buckeyes have offered in the 2022 class.
Jordan does not yet have a 247 Sports Composite rating. He is the sixth Texan and 17th overall player the Buckeyes have offered in the 2021 class. The Buckeyes last offered a player from Billy Ryan HS when they offered defensive end Earnest Brown in 2017, but Brown committed to Northwestern.
Jeff Hafley must see something special in Jordan, as this is just the third offer for the sophomore.