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.
Buckeyes offer star freshman QB from California
Just two days ago on Sunday’s Hurry Up, I talked a little about how crucial it is for programs to get in on quarterbacks early and offer them from a young age. It’s how Ohio State landed early commitments from Jack Miller and Kyle McCord for the 2020 and 2021 classes, respectively, as two of the first committed players in their respective cycles.
Less than 48 hours later, the Buckeyes were at it again, as high school freshman quarterback Malachi Nelson out of Los Alamitos, California announced on Twitter an offer from Ohio State.
Looking at his offer sheet would be impressive even for a high school senior, as Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Oregon are already in on Nelson, and he's also getting interest from USC, UCLA and Washington.
Nelson has been a known rising star on the west coast since he was in seventh grade. He’s been under a bright spotlight already, leading his team to an ESPN-televised Pop Warner national championship game as an eighth-grader while earning Pro Football Hall of Fame All-American honors for youth football, and hitting 7-on-7 camp circuits put also put him squarely on the map.
His reputation quickened even further last year when he picked up a major SEC offer before he had stepped foot on a high school field.
“Receiving any offer is a blessing, but the ones I have are crazy and amazing,” Nelson told Eleven Warriors on Monday night, shortly after announcing his Buckeyes offer. “I think I had a great eighth-grade year that brought a lot of exposure. Picking up Auburn as an eighth-grader was huge and started the ball rolling. From there, colleges started keeping an eye on me and tracking my progress and growth.”
Nelson is trained by quarterbacks coach Danny Hernandez out of STARS Sports Training and Rehabilitation Services in nearby Anaheim.
Hernandez trains high school superstar quarterbacks DJ Uiagalelei (Clemson commit), Bryce Young (Alabama commit) – the No.1-ranked pro-style and No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterbacks, respectively, in the 2020 class – and the No. 3-ranked junior pro-style QB in 2021, USC five-star QB commit Jake Garcia, plus sophomore 247Sports five-star QB Maalik Murphy. All four, and Nelson now, hold Ohio State offers.
Nelson praises both STARS and Hernandez for helping him prepare and hone the skills he’s continuing to craft and for putting him on the radar of Buckeyes quarterbacks coach Mike Yurcich and Jason Kwon (a student intern involved in Ohio State recruiting).
“I’m closest to Coach Yurcich and Coach Kwon,” Nelson said. “My coaches were in contact with them pretty early. Coach Yurcich has been in contact from the beginning and has been in contact with my coaches often, monitoring my growth and progress.”
Check out his game film and it’s obvious why Ohio State offered this young, talented arm.
When watching his highlight tape, there are a few similarities to the high school version of this guy:
Yes, a comparison to Patrick Mahomes at this stage sounds ridiculous on the surface level. I’m not at all saying they’re the same guy, but there are actual similarities there for Nelson already, right down to the 6-foot-3, 180-pound size dimensions. (*Again, in terms of high school comparisons, just to be clear*).
Nelson’s got a smooth, lightning-fast and natural release of the ball that explodes off his hand. He rifles throws into tight windows on a line, lasers them up the seams, and he can put the right amount of touch on balls to float passes either between two defenders right into his receiver’s palms up the sidelines – or right over the top of them, throwing his receivers open in-stride.
He already looks like he has the tools to be an elite passer, his accuracy and timing are terrific for a ninth-grader, and he is able to get creative, extending plays by escaping pressure with elusiveness and throwing accurately on the run. And from reading some 247Sports evaluations of him from scouts who have seen him play in-person, he apparently has the intangibles as well – calmness in the pocket, leadership in the huddle and poise when plays break down.
Again, he’s a freshman (!) so get in on the hype train early, boys and girls.
For Nelson, it’s still incredibly early in the recruiting process, and he has four more years of this to go. To him, that’s only adding fuel for him to ensure there is no drop-off between now and the time he eventually makes a college decision and begins the next, bright level in his career.
“It is early, but it’s amazing and very humbling,” Nelson said. “Also, because it’s early, it’s motivating me at the same time to work even harder to be the best quarterback I can be.”
As for the immediate future, Nelson says he is going to try his best to make it to campus for the Nov. 23 game against Penn State, “which would be amazing,” he said. “If not, I definitely want to make a trip out and continue developing relationships.”
Grimes sets official visits, unofficial to Ohio State may be on hold
In early October, we told you more about Tony Grimes, the No. 1-ranked junior cornerback in the country who is hoping to use college as a springboard into the NFL.
We also told you what he said in terms of his slow-play recruitment: He wants to use up all five of his official visits before making a final decision.
Grimes, on Monday night, announced that he has set scheduled official visits to both Clemson and Penn State, which means he’ll have three more visits to go.
@ClemsonFB & @PennStateFball Official Visit coming soon!! Only 3 more to narrow down; Cant Wait!! @CUCoachReed @CoachTerryPSU @RivalsFriedman @BrianDohn247 @dhglover @Bubblesdnf pic.twitter.com/B4ikeXXlet— Tony Grimes (@757EliteDB) November 12, 2019
Grimes and his father, Deon Glover, have plans to visit Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ game against Penn State, but Glover told Eleven Warriors that those plans might have to be put on hold.
It's still a high priority for them to visit Columbus again (having visited last summer), but working out the logistics of the visit has been more difficult than originally anticipated. That's especially because Princess Anne (Va.) High School – where Grimes is the team's top defensive back and Glover is a coach – is having a strong turnaround season and looks like it may end up having a playoff game scheduled on Nov. 23.
"We are still trying to work it out, though," Glover said. "Tony really wants to be there."
Glover said he will talk with Ohio State linebacker Teradja Mitchell, a fellow Virginia Beach native whom Grimes and Glover have a strong relationship with, and Buckeyes linebackers coach Al Washington to see what their best options are for a different visit date if Nov. 23 does not work out as planned.
"Getting back on campus is a priority for us," Glover said. "We need one more unofficial before we make it an official."
Grimes would be a landmark recruit in the 2021 class if Washington and Jeff Hafley can pick up a commitment from him. The Buckeyes have landed the No. 1-ranked cornerback twice in the modern recruiting era (Jeff Okudah and Ted Ginn Jr., who switched to receiver).