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.
The uncertainty and unrest at Texas has led to decommitment after decommitment over the past couple weeks. It's just a reminder that this is one of the busiest times of the year for decommitments as coaches either get fired or leave for other pastures.
The news of Chris Petersen stepping down as Washington head coach could lead to multiple decommitments from the Huskies, and that includes at least one player to keep an eye on in 2020 four-star offensive guard Geriean Hatchett, who has not decommitted and told The Athletic's Christian Caple he has no plans to do so.
Hatchett, the No. 7-ranked offensive guard in America and the state of Washington's fourth-ranked recruit, was offered by the Buckeyes in February of his junior year. Hatchett was then one of the first recruits whom Ryan Day visited after he took the reins as Ohio State's head coach, trekking out to Ferndale, Wash., to recruit Hatchett.
Just spoke with 4-star Ferndale OL commit Geirean Hatchett. He said he's bummed Petersen is stepping down, but "still all Dawg, and excited for the future with the Lake era." Said Lake and Scott Huff are coming up for a visit tonight.— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) December 2, 2019
He probably will not decommit, but he's still one to keep an eye on moving forward if he changes his mind.
Now, the question obviously becomes, with Ohio State already having 25 commitments in this class, would the Buckeyes have enough room to add anyone looking to decommit and come to Ohio State? Especially since they already have one or two uncommitted guys on their radar they're looking to add late, would they even be looking to do so?
Day addressed that on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it changes anything,” Day said. “I think we rank our guys the best we can and we find out who want to be Buckeyes, too. That’s a huge part of this thing.
“If we have somebody maybe ranked a little higher than another person, if one of them wants to be a Buckeye, wants to play in that rivalry game, play in the Horseshoe, that matters to us. We take all those things into consideration, and we try to be as aggressive as we can on the recruiting trail.”
Day mentions aggressiveness at least once in almost every media availability session he has, whether that's the lengthy Tuesday availability, Thursday's lightning round or the postgame presser. And he mentions aggressiveness when discussing pouring on late touchdowns, calling an onside kick and on the recruiting trail.
Hatchett, again, doesn't look like he's going to decommit. Really, I'm just using him as an example of a player the Buckeyes had high interest in who committed elsewhere but may end up looking to come to Columbus. He's a top-10 ranked offensive lineman who would be a big get for Ohio State.
If a top-10 guy at any position, who is committed to Washington, Texas, USC or elsewhere, is showing interest, I think the Buckeyes would listen. They don't want to screw up the chemistry they have with the 25 guys in this class, so don't expect any late additions like Hatchett. But I just don't think we can rule that out completely. Not with a head coach who talks about aggressiveness so often and has made aggressiveness one of the core pillars of what he's trying to build here.
Egbuka, Tuimoloau recruitments
On another note, it will be incredibly interesting to see how the departure of Petersen will affect the recruitment of five-star athlete Emeka Egbuka and five-star defensive tackle J.T. Tuimoloau in the 2021 class.
Egbuka is from Steilacoom, Wash., and the Huskies are one of the top contenders in landing his commitment, right alongside Ohio State and Clemson.
Jimmy Lake, Washington's defensive coordinator, now takes over for the Huskies, and he brings with him a strong reputation as an enthusiastic, aggressive recruiter on the trail. Lake will certainly make Egbuka and Tuimoloau, the state's top two recruits, the highest priorities for UW. That should already be the case for guys with their talent and caliber, but there's no doubt Lake will put extra energy and time into those two guys, specifically, who each have Ohio State offers.
Washington is the clear-cut favorite to land Tuimoloau already, so perhaps Lake's aggressiveness will push the fourth-ranked national recruit to a faster commitment. Egbuka's recruitment, however, is more up in the air among those three main schools, so Lake's efforts there should be keenly watched by Buckeye fans.
Go check out this piece by The Tacoma News-Tribune's Lauren Kirschman if you want to read more on Lake and his prowess as a recruiter on the defensive side of the ball.
Fillinger another potential prospect
Another player to keep an eye on during "decommitment season" is former Texas commit Van Fillinger.
I will be DECOMMITING from Texas and REOPENING my recruitment.— Van Fillinger (@van_filli) December 1, 2019
Fillinger is a 6-foot-4, 250-pound strong-side defensive end from Utah who is ranked as the 13th-best player at his position and second-best player in his state in the 2020 class.
Fillinger holds an Ohio State offer and took an unofficial visit to Columbus in May, and the Buckeyes are still searching (although not necessarily giving a hard search) for another defensive lineman to fill out the 2020 class.
Again, as we said above, with 25 commitments already in the class, and the potential huge addition of CJ Stroud in mid-December, space is wearing thin for more additions in 2020.
Fillinger is another who likely won't end up being a part of Ohio State's class, but he's worth at least keeping an eye on.
Evans' commitment coming
Don't freak out. Five-star 2020 running back Zach Evans is not committing to Ohio State. It's just straight-up not going to happen.
Committing Wednesday.— Zach Evans (@Runzekerun01) December 1, 2019
But Evans announced he is committing on Wednesday, and his decision could have ramifications for the Buckeyes going forward, even though he won't be coming to Columbus.
It's almost certainly going to come down to either Georgia or LSU.
If Evans, the No. 1-ranked running back in 2020, chooses Georgia, that could open up the door further for Evan Pryor to end up choosing Ohio State. Georgia has long been thought of as Pryor's top choice, with the Buckeyes trailing behind closer to the top of his list. And even though the No. 5-ranked 2021 running back Pryor has told Eleven Warriors that competition in the running back room will not deter him from making his college decision, it would still be pretty hard to enter a room with Evans and beat him out.
The Bulldogs have done a good job in the past of running a two-back system (and Pryor is used to that at William Amos Hough High School, where he splits carries with teammate Kwesi Kyei-fordjour) and keeping multiple backs healthy and fresh. But the Buckeyes still seem like they would be the better fit for Pryor if Evans were to choose Athens.
And if Evans chooses LSU, that could open the door ever-so slightly for Ohio State to be the top option for a potential Bijan Robinson flip (insert eyeball emojis). I'm still of the heavy opinion Robinson either stays committed to Texas or chooses USC, but combined with the unrest and debacles at each program, maybe Robinson and his family decide it's better and more stable for his future to head elsewhere.
LSU is one of those top potential landing spots for Robinson, the 2020 class' No. 2-ranked running back, so if the Tigers grab Evans, that almost certainly erases them from contention with Robinson if he does choose to decommit from Texas.
And, frankly, it would be odd for a player to decommit from one school that has an unknown, unstable future at head coach (Texas) in order to head to another school that has an equally unknown, unstable future at head coach (USC).
Then again, this is recruiting we're talking about, and crazy, odd, ridiculous things happen all the time. So maybe we should just shut up and stop speculating. But where's the fun in that?