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.
Brotherhood, relationship with Washington are major factors in Powers’ recruitment
Right up there with “tough love,” the phrase “The Brotherhood” has been a leading motto for the Ohio State football program. It was the team’s main rallying cry in the eager lead-up to the Penn State game, used as the centerpiece of the Buckeyes’ game trailer and mentioned by players repeatedly during media availability sessions.
“The Brotherhood” has seeped itself into the psyche of recruits as well, as some of the best high school prospects in the country are taking notice of the tight-knit bonds the players on this 11-0 team share.
The culture and atmosphere the players have created is one of the main reasons recruits in Ohio and around the nation keep holding Ohio State in such high regard following their visits.
When asked what the main takeaway was from this weekend’s visit to the Shoe – other than a raucous environment that he says made it difficult to hear his own thoughts – it was one of the first things mentioned by Gabe Powers.
“The brotherhood,” the 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore outside linebacker told Eleven Warriors. “That’s what stood out a lot at the game is the brotherhood on the field and in the locker room.
“(Ohio State) is one of my top schools, but I’m still keeping my options open. I just wanna go somewhere I’m comfortable and fit in really well. One of the biggest (factors) is the brotherhood. How well does the team bond together? How well does the team bond with the coaches? How much do they feel like they’re important or fit in there?”
Powers has now seen that culture up-close twice on game day, having now visited for the Wisconsin and Penn State games, but this visit was a little more eye-opening. Following the game Saturday, Powers went up to the Buckeyes’ locker room, where he and his family met with linebackers coach Al Washington, the man who made Powers just the second 2022 Ohio recruit to receive an Ohio State offer.
“I met him and his family up there and talked for a little bit,” Powers said. “We talked about everything – not about football – just about life and how I’m doing. The relationship I’m building with him has been really good. … We started talking back in July and ever since then, it’s just been building and building every month.”
“My dad’s a linebackers coach. I’ve been taught linebacker since the day I could walk. Like 6 or 7 years old.”– 2022 OLB Gabe Powers
Lately, the consistency of those talks between the two are increasing, as Washington talks to both Powers and Powers’ father at least once a week, which can range from 10 minutes to 30-40 minutes. Those conversations are continuing to establish trust and a positive impression.
“My family loves coach Washington,” Powers said. “He came down to one of our games. He met my family, and they love coach Washington.”
Powers told Eleven Warriors of his growing relationship with Washington on Sunday night, just moments after getting off the phone with Tennessee outside linebackers coach Chris Rumph, who made the Volunteers the sixth program to offer the star sophomore from Marysville High School.
Powers says it’s a blessing to have these offers flooding in at such a young age. But maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Big Ten and SEC teams are continuing to target him this early.
“I think I’m bigger-sized, and the game comes pretty easy,” Powers said. “My dad’s a linebackers coach. I’ve been taught linebacker since the day I could walk. Like 6 or 7 years old.”
Ever since being taught the intricacies of the linebacker position, Powers is continuing to fit the natural mold of what Washington wants in a Buckeyes linebacker, but there is still room for growth.
“Growing-wise, this is my first year at outside linebacker,” Powers said. “I’ve played middle linebacker my whole life so I’ve had to change positions this year. During the season, I’ve gotten a lot better than what I was at the start.
“I’ve gotta get bigger, faster and stronger, and that’s what I’ve gotta prepare for every day is those three things. And doing what the team needs from me.”
That could include playing defensive end, where Powers has played a little bit at Marysville, though that has come as a stand-up defensive end who walks up to the end of the line and does not have his hand in the dirt. He still continues crafting his defensive end abilities, including side swipes and hand fighting. That could end up being somewhere Powers is asked to play, especially if he continues to add to his already elite frame.
“I fit in wherever they need me, but I think I fit in pretty good,” Powers said of the Buckeyes’ defense. “The way they use their outside linebackers where sometimes they can walk up on the end sometimes and drop back into coverage – I think I can do all that very well.”
Powers’ recruitment is in the baby stages, as there is such a long way to go that he hasn’t even begun to think of a commitment timeline. He’s too busy with other areas of his life.
“Off the field, grades are very important to me,” Powers said. “I’m a big religion guy. God, family and friends are all really important to me. Off the field, I hold myself to a high standard with grades, and on the field, I just give it everything I’ve got and do the best I can.”
Hicks’ offer could be around the corner
Ohio State has offered just two in-state players in the 2022 class – Powers and a player we plan on discussing in more detail tomorrow, Tegra Tshabola.
If the third player ends up being C.J. Hicks, don’t color us surprised.
Hicks is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound strong safety and outside linebacker at Alter High School in the Dayton area, and he has strong ties connecting him to the Buckeyes. His cousin, Robert Landers, is a fan favorite and one of the key contributors in helping build this program over the last few years, and another fifth-year senior, Derrick Malone, is tight with Hicks. He was able to catch up with both Landers and Malone on Saturday for their last game at Ohio Stadium.
“(The Ohio State coaches) just told me to keep doing what I’m doing, keep my grades up, and they’ll be in touch,” Hicks told Eleven Warriors on Sunday following his latest visit. “That’s what coach Wilson told me, and Derrick Malone and B.B. said the offer’s coming.
“I honestly don’t know when it’s gonna come. I want it to happen as soon as possible, obviously. But it’s a business. Their season’s not over anyway, and it is Ohio State – one of the top five colleges in the country in almost every single sport. If they do offer, I’m still gonna keep my options open and commit at the end of the summer going into my senior year.”
Purdue, Iowa and West Virginia are a few of the programs Hicks mentions have caught his early attention, and he says one of the biggest factors in his decision will be academics. He is interested in majoring in international business, and he has researched Ohio State’s business program a little bit, finding out that it ranks in the top 50 of the best business schools in the country.
“I look at it from the academic standpoint,” Hicks said. “I feel like football is just the bonus. At the end of the day, if you do or don’t make it to the NFL, I always wanna fall back on grades and how smart you are.”
As for the on-field side of things, Hicks says that at the beginning of the season, he would have said that strong safety would be the position he’s destined to play in college, “but because I’ve played a mixture of strong safety and linebacker this year, I feel like I’m most likely gonna play linebacker since I am so big already and I still have two years in high school. Probably outside linebacker.”
Defensive end is not something he’s thought about playing. It’s a position he hasn’t played in since sixth grade, and he doubts a return to having his hand in the dirt will be coming.
What will be coming, though, are more two-hour drives from Dayton to Columbus to visit Ohio State so that he can see practices and games like the impressive atmosphere he experienced this weekend – his third gameday visit this season.
“It was good. In my eyes, I thought it was better than the Wisconsin and (Cincinnati) games that I went to because it was an actual good game, and Ohio State didn’t blow ‘em out,” Hicks said. “It was louder and crazy yesterday. All the games I did go to, the fans have been into the game no matter what the score was and always supporting the team.”
The non-blowout Saturday brought forth two things for the Buckeyes – some heavier breathing and some teaching moments.
“In the locker room after the game, B.B said he was really tired because that was the first time this season he actually had to play the fourth quarter,” Hicks said. “Ryan Day said they should’ve won by 40 points. But it was just mistakes (that cost them), he said, but they still walked out with the W. (Day) was amped. He was really amped. Especially before the game.”
Hicks and the other dozens of recruits on-hand for a visit spent time gathered at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center before going to St. John Arena, where they were treated to a pre-game hype video and Day talked about how important “The Brotherhood” is to this program.
That brotherhood is present with Hicks and all of the other players from the Cincinnati and Dayton areas, as Hicks says those guys are “all really close.”
“I got to talk to Miyan at the game,” Hicks said. “I didn’t play against him (in high school), but we both knew who each other were because our teams were rivals growing up. ... I grew up hearing of Cincinnati guys like Miyan and Paris. Paris is a big guy and everyone knows who he is. He treats me like his little brother kinda.”
Star sophomore WR and family leave with great first impression
Hicks is far from the only 2022 talent who’s eager to earn an Ohio State offer, and he’s certainly not the only one high on the Buckeyes’ board of sophomores that they are taking a hard look at.
One such player who was on campus this weekend was sophomore receiver Darrius Clemons.
Clemons is one of the 2022 class’ rising stars, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound receiver who has already showcased an explosive 4.51-second time in the 40-yard dash out at Westview High School in Portland, Oregon. Clemons was born in Michigan and moved to Oregon when he was 10 years old, but Clemons and his parents were back in the Midwest this weekend.
“I’ve actually never been to Ohio State before for a visit, but the city was great,” Clemons told Eleven Warriors. “My mom and dad came with me, and they liked it just as much, if not more, than me. They loved (the atmosphere).”
Clemons kept mostly to himself and his parents throughout Saturday’s game, as they were busy “taking the whole experience in.”
The Buckeye coaches talked to Clemons a little bit about a potential offer, but they want him to return for camp in June to further evaluate him before they decide to go all-in with an offer.
“They definitely left a good (impression),” Clemons said. “Hopefully I earn an offer in the near future, and I can see how serious they are about recruiting me then. … (The vibe) was really good, overall. It was really nice to be able to talk to (receivers coach Brian) Hartline in person for the first time, and they definitely made a good first impression.”