The Hurry Up: The Mailbag is Back, Answering Questions About a Potential "Rabbit Out of the Hat" Late in the 2020 Class and Tempering Expectations for the WR Class

By Zack Carpenter on December 1, 2019 at 6:50 pm
C.J. Stroud
C.J. Stroud

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.

What a glorious Sunday it must be for you guys, able to bask in that glow of another win over Michigan and knowing the Buckeyes are as close to being a College Football Playoff lock as you can be without being a full-on lock. 

We're coming off a pretty damn good week at the Hurry Up ourselves if you don't mind us saying. It was a loaded week of player interviews, starting on Sunday by detailing a key running back visit.

On Monday, we told you about the future of top-of-the-line 2022 targets, and that parlayed into a Tuesday afternoon that discussed the huge offensive line recruits who are high priorities and have the Buckeyes high on their list. That preceded that evening's Hurry Up that analyzed a pair of key players along the defensive line, and on Wednesday we had another loaded Hurry Up about the 2021 tight end situation. 

And that's not counting the Buckeyes getting a key #BOOM on Saturday that Eleven Warriors analyzed, an extensive photo gallery of more than 50 recruits who converged on the Shoe, some more news on the 2020 receiver class and Andrew Ellis' piece on the Ohio State vs. Michigan battle for two talented 2021 running backs.

Michigan Week, the biggest week of the year, was preceded by the second-biggest week of the year for the current Buckeyes, and those two weeks were just as critical for potential future Buckeyes – my new favorite phrase, right up there with "former future Buckeye" – so we made it count.

Hopefully those were enough shameless-plug links for ya so you can go back and read old things, in case you're interested in that sort of thing. 

As sort-of promised on Friday, here is the long-awaited return of the Mailbag that I know you guys have been oh-so-dying to see come back. 

Question 1

OK, sorry for some more shameless plugs but wanted to say I appreciate your appreciation. Hopefully you're speaking for a lot of other readers who are digging the Mailbag concept.

I'm all-in on hearing your guys' questions, ideas, agreements, disagreements and criticisms. Without you guys and gals, our jobs are, frankly, pointless. These write-ups would feel like we're just screaming in a mirror to ourselves or talking to our dogs, and Kemba Carpenter can only listen to my thoughts on what the Buckeyes should do at 2021 offensive guard and how wild it will be if Ohio State lands Emeka Egbuka for so long before he goes berserk. 

So, again, keep firing away, and we will do our best to serve up whatever heat we've got.

Powers position

Question 2

Gabe Powers is already on a path to stud-dom (get it? Instead of stardom?). The fact that the Marysville (Ohio) sophomore outside linebacker already has an Ohio State offer says all you need to know about his potential. 

He's a hard-hitting, aggressive and physical OLB, and it seems like that's where he'll best be served at whatever college program he chooses.

(As a sidebar, some of you had some fun with his comment that he's been a linebacker since the day he could walk, "at like 6 or 7 years old." I hope, pray and plead you guys were being sarcastic when you were making fun/being critical of him for not being able to walk until he was 6 years old because, obviously, "since the day I could walk" was an exaggeration.)

Powers has been a middle linebacker his entire career and just wrapped up his first season on the outside, so he will be spending time developing there, and it absolutely could pay dividends in the future if a position switch occurs. On the outside at Marysville, Powers told Eleven Warriors there have been times when the team's OLBs come down on the line in their defensive system to rush off the edge.

With his physical development (he's already 6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and potential to become a defensive end in the future, perhaps that was one of the reasons for the move to the outside. He's got the time to eventually make that move. Though he's expected to remain at OLB for the remainder of high school career, sure, he could move to defensive end, and the system he's currently a part of could lend a helping hand in making that potential transition a little smoother.

In my opinion, he will remain a linebacker, but it's very easy to see him becoming another Cade Stover and making that switch. 

Rabbit out of the hat?

Question 3

This comment was made prior to the Buckeyes landing 2020 running back Miyan Williams, but that hardly counts as "rabbit out of the hat" material. 

It looks like Ohio State's 2020 RB situation is over, but Jahmyr Gibbs is certainly still in the equation, even though I still think he remains committed to Georgia Tech when all is said and done. As for 2020 edge rusher, Xavier Carlton or Tyler Baron committing would fall in that category, but it's not sounding promising that either of them will become a Buckeye, though Carlton is more likely right now.

As we detailed Tuesday, though, the return of Jonathon Cooper next season serves as the perfect buffer zone for Ohio State, making a commitment from a top-tier 2020 defensive end not an area of gigantic need. 

If you're looking for "rabbit out of the hat" material late in the 2020 class, you're looking at a commitment from quarterback C.J. Stroud to fill that excitement. 

Stroud is set for an official visit to Columbus on Dec. 14, and he's coming off an official visit to Georgia last weekend, which he followed up by announcing his Bulldogs offer.

Stroud's self-described "dream school" was Oregon at one point, but big news landed shortly after the Ohio State-Michigan game when Stroud announced on Twitter that he would not be taking a visit to Eugene this weekend. Maybe that means he'll be taking a visit another time, but for a kid who doesn't make many public recruiting announcements, the fact that he took the time to make one in this case might indicate that his interest in the Ducks has cooled.

Stroud's recruitment was coming down to Ohio State, Georgia or Oregon, and perhaps it has now come down to just Ohio State or Georgia. It would be fairly shocking if it's not one of those programs, and my money is on the Buckeyes landing him.

Urban Meyer always seemed to land one of those last-minute surprise commitments. Here's predicting Stroud will be Ryan Day's (though, to be fair, I guess we can't really label it "a surprise" at this point).

Next year's offense

Question 4

The evolution of Day's offense is one of the more interesting storylines heading into next season.

The assumed-development of Justin Fields, the lack of a known commodity at running back (Master Teague III is probably going to be really good, but that's still not a known thing yet) and the fact the receiving corps should be very strong all add up to what could be a major adjustment to that more pass-oriented offensive attack.

Penn State game aside, the offense has been pretty balanced this season with the run game leading the way, but it will be interesting to see if Day chooses to use Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams and any of the incoming 2020 freshmen receivers as the offensive centerpieces instead of the rushing attack.

Offensive assistants

Question 5

Yes, Kennedy Cook is a Buckeyes assistant offensive line coach. Cook is one of many lesser-known assistants on the staff whom many recruits have referenced that they have a great relationship with. 

Cook is one of several assistant names that Ohio State fans need to get to know if they don't already. Cook, receivers assistant Keenan Bailey, defensive line assistant Kenny Anunike and player personnel assistant Jason Kwon are some of the names that come up frequently when recruits are asked of their relationships with Buckeye coaches. 

Those guys are on their way to becoming fast risers in the industry so don't be surprised to hear their names pop up more often in the future.

RB recruitment in 2021

Question 5

As we detailed in the analysis piece on Miyan Williams, his commitment does not automatically solve the Buckeyes' future at the running back position. Far from it. 

Running back will be just as important in 2021 and is probably the most important position to recruit going forward, alongside offensive and defensive line that always is in need of replenishing. Ohio State will continue targeting Will Shipley, Evan Pryor, Donovan Edwards, Lovasea Carroll and Corey Kiner, hoping to land commitments from two of them to bring a strong nucleus in the running backs room. Get two of those guys and a huge question mark instantly turns into one of the biggest, most critical strengths of the 2021 class.

Question 7

First off, I know you meant EJ Smith, the son of Emmitt Smith. Although, the younger Smith's name is Emmitt Smith IV, so, technically, you weren't wrong. 

But, yes, EJ Smith is off the Buckeyes' board so don't expect him to be a second running back coming into this class. 

As for the running backs, I rank those four like this:

1 Edwards

2 Shipley

3 Pryor

4 Kiner

Edwards and Shipley are going to be full-blown studs at the next level. Edwards is a bull; strong, sturdy, fast and can catch it out of the backfield. He'll be an every-down back, so getting him would be monumental for either Ohio State or Michigan. 

Shipley recently reached 20.1 miles per hour on a touchdown run. That's the play that perfectly personifies what he's capable of in college. He's going to be a home-run threat out of the backfield and in the slot. Defensive coordinators will have to spend a lot of time in the film room trying to figure out the ideal matchup to try and slow him down. 

Just because I'm so high on Edwards and Shipley doesn't mean Pryor and Kiner are chopped liver by any means. Far, far from it. They're both going to be really good, consistent backs at the next level, and each has a good shot at being a starter by Year 2. I just think each one will take a little more time to develop before they become game-changers.

The odds of getting three of those guys is close to zero. I think the Buckeyes will get one of them, and they have a good chance at getting two of them. As for which one I would want if I was an Ohio State coach, Edwards is above them all, but give me Edwards, Shipley or Pryor alone, and I'd be a happy guy. Give me one of them and Kiner's attitude, leadership and work ethic, and I'd be through the moon. 

Tempering expectations

Question 6

This is right up there as one of the more interesting questions for the 2020 season. This receivers class is already billed as being the best in Ohio State history and one of the best receiver classes of all-time, period. They're going to hit campus and immediately be expected to start making on-field contributions. 

While I expect at least one of them to do just that, you'll have to temper expectations as they grow and adjust to the game. Garrett Wilson is starting to show his mettle as a receiver and playmaking as a punt returner, but it's taken until the second half of the season for that to happen. Don't be surprised if it ends up being the same timeline for Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr. and especially Mookie Cooper, as Cooper takes time to get back into a groove on the field after sitting out his senior season after ruled ineligible. 

What's the Story?

Question 6

At this point in time, I'm hearing the Buckeyes have cooled on four-star in-state defensive end Najee Story. That doesn't mean he will not be a future take for Ohio State, though. He's still got plenty of time to make an impression in the offseason and continue to improve before the time he's a senior. Don't count Story out yet.

But right now, he is not a high priority for the 2021 defensive line class.

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