The Hurry-Up: Ohio State a Rare Finalist for an Alabama and Nebraska Recruit, Each a Top-10 Cornerback, CJ Stroud Set for Official Visit

By Zack Carpenter on December 12, 2019 at 7:15 pm
Ga'Quincy McKinstry
Ga'Quincy McKinstry (247Sports)

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 rare finalists for Alabama, Nebraska recruits

Jeff Hafley may or may not take the Boston College job. But until Bruce Feldman hits us with the all caps “SOURCES: …” we won’t know. (It could be someone other than Feldman, but, come on, it’s a pretty good bet isn’t it?)

Whether or not Hafley departs is the most nail-biting storyline for Buckeyes fans who follow recruiting, and it will be until a decision is official. But for now, Hafley continues putting in work on the recruiting trail, racking up airline miles and surely not racking up much sleep. 

According to Marc Givler of Buckeye Grove, Hafley is in Arizona tonight (Thursday) for an in-home visit with four-star safety Lathan Ransom. That will be his last stop of the week after visiting with the other three defensive backs throughout the week and athlete Cameron Martinez, who will begin his career in the defensive backs room when he comes to campus. 

Hafley, even if he chooses to return to his east coast roots to become a head coach, is still doing his part for the Buckeyes, and it looks like that could include putting in work for even further down the line for the program’s future.

On back-to-back days, Wednesday and Thursday, Ohio State found itself among the finalists for a top-10 cornerback in the 2021 class, as Ga’Quincy McKinstry and Avante Dickerson placed the Buckeyes in their top eight and top three, respectively. 

McKinstry, who was offered by Ohio State in mid-September, is the No. 3-ranked corner nationally in 2021 and hails from Pinson Valley (Ala.), where he ranks only behind defensive end Dylan Brooks for the state’s top spot. 

McKinstry is a top-30 national prospect who measures at 5-foot-11.5, 172 pounds. He will essentially have his choice of where he wants to attend school. Name a powerhouse program in the south, and it’s got a good shot at landing him. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Miami and Georgia are the other seven programs on his final list, making Ohio State the answer to the question, “Which one of these is not like the other?”

Hafley most likely has something to do with McKinstry placing the Buckeyes among a who’s-who list of SEC powers, Miami and Clemson, as recruits nationwide have taken notice of Hafley’s revitalization into the Buckeyes’ defensive backfield to help it grow into one of the nation’s elite units. 

Also taking notice of the growth of Jeff Okudah, Shaun Wade, Damon Arnette and Jordan Fuller and Hafley’s influence has been Dickerson. 

Dickerson is Nebraska’s top-ranked junior whose recruitment has been narrowed down even further, as the Cornhuskers, Buckeyes and LSU Tigers are the last three programs in the running as of now. 

Dickerson, a 5-foot-10.5, 160-pound prospect, is the No. 77-rated national recruit and No. 8 cornerback in the 2021 class. Dickerson camped with Ohio State in the summer and received an offer in June but did not visit the Buckeyes for a game this season (neither did McKinstry). 

Ohio State hasn’t exactly had a run of success recruiting either Alabama or Nebraska. According to 247Sports, since 1999, the Buckeyes have not landed a single commitment from either state. 

Ohio State certainly targets the south like Florida and Georgia, it doesn’t prioritize Alabama. McKinstry is one of just two players from Alabama in the 2020 and 2021 classes combined (junior tight end Christian Burkhalter, who got on the Buckeyes’ radar when he transferred to IMG Academy in Florida before returning to Alabama, is the other) to even receive an Ohio State offer. 

As for Dickerson, he is the ONLY player from Nebraska who the Buckeyes have offered in the last 20 years, according to 247Sports. Pretty crazy. Perhaps that means there’s just not enough talent in the state to attract Ohio State’s attention and efforts there, and if that’s the case, that says as much as you need to know about Dickerson’s talent as anything else will. 

Maybe the Buckeyes being in McKinstry’s final list of schools is just a perception move – to have all three of the competitors for “DBU” listed as finalists (LSU, Florida) and make the list look a little shinier. Or maybe it speaks even more to the work Hafley has done this season. 

Coaching changes

Meanwhile, while Hafley’s situation remains up in the air, Feldman did report that Steve Addazio would become the fourth head coach at Colorado State this decade, and that decision by the Rams’ brass certainly has an impact on Ohio State’s recruiting. 

First off, it ensures that Tony Alford and Kevin Wilson will each be staying put for now, unless they have potential landing spots as a head coach at another program. Each was reported to be a top-five candidate for the Rams’ position, and it seemed to be a perfect fit for Alford. 

But with that job now situated, that means Alford and Wilson will presumably continue their recruiting efforts without distraction. 

That means Alford hitting up, you guessed it, Colorado this week. That included a visit with 2021 tight end Sam Hart, who told Eleven Warriors it was a good visit as the two built up their bond even further. Hart is already close with Alford and Wilson, and he has the Buckeyes in his top two as they search for at least one, but probably two, tight ends in 2021. 

Wilson, meanwhile, was down in North Carolina to continue relationship-building with junior running back Evan Pryor, one of the top priorities for the Buckeyes moving forward. 

Pryor is another 2021 standout who has Ohio State in his upper echelon, and he is very tight with Alford. So perhaps the running backs coach staying and tight ends coach Wilson not going anywhere, either, could give Ohio State an extra momentum boost. 

Stroud visit set

Ohio State’s biggest recruiting weekend of the year came in November for the Penn State game. But this weekend is right up there in the running as the second-biggest, at least for the immediate future.

CJ Stroud, maybe you’ve heard of him, is flying in for his official visit Friday and Saturday, making this a weekend of critical importance. Stroud will be joined on the official visitors list by 2020 commits Miyan Williams and Jake Seibert, but most of Ryan Day’s attention will be spent on Stroud.

Ohio State landing a second quarterback, one who can compete with Jack Miller for the starting spot, is huge to complete the 2020 class. The transfer portal is certainly an option for the Buckeyes moving forward (I mean, it’s working out for them with a certain quarterback from Georgia), but they will potentially already be looking to dip into the portal in 2021 for at least one backup quarterback due to Day’s wanting four signal callers in the room. 

Miller will already be on the way, and if it’s just Miller (and eventually Kyle McCord) in the 2021 room, there’s enough talent there but not much depth. A quarterback room of Stroud, Miller and McCord would make the Buckeye coaches exuberant about the future. 

Robinson wants to bring Texas back

Yes, another note about Bijan Robinson. But it’s a quick one. 

Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer wrote a lengthy piece detailing Robinson on Thursday, and it’s worth a read if you want to find out some more details on him. 

In the story, Robinson discusses his hopes to help get the Longhorns back to the top of the sport and the shakeup on the Texas staff.

“College football is better when Texas is good,” Robinson told Kramer. “Trying to get them back to the top is my mindset. I mean, I could go to Ohio State or LSU or a team that's already enjoying great success. But getting Texas back to where it needs to be is what my focus is.”

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