The Hurry-Up: Questions About the Buckeyes' 2020 OL Signees and Cameron Martinez's Decision

By Zack Carpenter on December 22, 2019 at 7:20 pm
Josh Fryar, Trey Leroux
Josh Fryar, Trey Leroux

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 Buckeyes have landed in Phoenix safely and soundly, and so has the Eleven Warriors' beat staff. 

We're about to kick-start a hectic week here from the Grand Canyon State, but before that begins, let's talk some recruiting in this week's mailbag.

Questions about OL

Question 2
Question 2

Ideally, each recruiting class would feature at least four offensive line signees. That was the average number of signees of Urban Meyer's eight recruiting classes. Four of those classes featured a full five offensive line signees. 

So six signees in the 2020 class – Paris Johnson Jr., Luke Wypler, Josh Fryar, Grant Toutant, Jakob James and Trey Leroux – might seem like one or two too many.

In 2019, however, the Buckeyes signed just four offensive linemen, and the Buckeyes' current unit could see some depletion after this season so it's a wise move for Ryan Day and Greg Studrawa to replenish what they might lose.

Fifth-year senior Branden Bowen and graduate transfer Jonah Jackson will be gone, and the other three starters (underclassmen OT Thayer Munford, OG Wyatt Davis, C Josh Myers) could each conceivably enter the NFL Draft. The feeling right now is that none of them will go to the draft early because they aren't quite ready. 

In the latest mock drafts I've looked at, Munford is either going undrafted or would be a very late-round pick, while Davis and Myers are going undrafted and aren't on most positional rankings boards. If you say that draft experts are underrating them, I would agree. And their stock could certainly change a bit over the next couple weeks, and it's still possible that one or two of them could go, leaving the Buckeyes with possibly three or more starting offensive linemen to replace (and definitely two). 

That's one of the main reasons for the Buckeyes grabbing so many offensive linemen in this class, and I don't think it's a concern.

I'm always of the mind that you can never have too many offensive linemen, and Day is of the belief that his coaching staff has hit a sweet spot of having some more advanced guys who could contribute right away and more developmental guys who are at least two or three years away from contributing in significant games.

"I think it's a great mix," Day said on Wednesday. "I think you're looking at guys like Paris and Luke who have an opportunity to come in here and compete right away. I think Trey, Jakob and Josh, they know they've got a little developing to do, whether it's just playing more, whether it's physically, whatever it is, they need to get in here and just learn the offense, learn what's going on, get bigger, get stronger, get – you know, Josh Myers, it took him three years to get on the field. There's nothing wrong with that as an offensive lineman. And sometimes that's the best way to go about it."

When it comes to skill position players like quarterback, cornerback or receiver, Florida, Texas and California are typically the major states the Buckeyes focus on. For offensive line, Ohio State tries its best to stay local. The program wants, and needs, those rugged, hard-working in-state guys from local high schools who can provide depth over the next four or five years.

That's not going to change anytime soon. Ohio State has already anchored its 2021 offensive class with Ben Christman and hopes to do the same with 2022 future star offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola. If the Buckeyes have those two in the fold, there's a good chance they end up looking to add another O-lineman in each class from the state as a more developmental guy.

Now, the Buckeyes are extending past state lines in the 2021 class for some of their key targets such as Virginia's Tristan Leigh and Colorado's Trey Zuhn. Three of their other top 2021 OL targets do still have a local flavor in Michigan's Rocco Spindler, and Texas' Donovan Jackson and Florida's JC Latham each have some strong Ohio family connections. 

But, again, don't be surprised if the Buckeyes continue bringing in lower-rated developmental prospects in Ohio. If nothing else, it could give Day more pull in the state by him taking more in-state players to his program.

"Having those Ohio guys here who are loyal, they're going to put years into the program, they're going to develop, they want to get their degree here, they're Buckeyes. That means a lot," Day said. "You need to have that in the program, and these are great guys. You talk about Jacob James and what he did at Elder this year and his family are great people. So we're super excited."

Martinez decision


Late Tuesday night, 2020 Ohio State athlete commit Cameron Martinez said he would wait until the Feb. 5 National Signing Day to sign with his college program. He's still committed to Ohio State, so that could still be the Buckeyes. Just because he hasn't yet signed doesn't mean he is going to end up with another program, and it certainly doesn't mean the coaching staff decided at the last minute that it didn't want Martinez. 

In fact, with cornerback Clark Phillips III flipping to Utah, it makes landing Martinez even more important to give the defensive backs room some much-needed depth. 

The main reason Martinez chose to delay his signing is most likely because of this: He's a high school quarterback who is not nearly refined at the defensive back position he would play at Ohio State (most likely safety). When Jeff Hafley recruited him, Martinez knew he was going to get one of the country's best at developing defensive backs (even in one season in Columbus, Hafley earned that reputation). 

With Hafley gone, it stands to perfectly understandable reason that Martinez would want to wait to see who the Buckeyes get to replace Hafley. More than any other defensive back in Ohio State's 2020 class, it seems Martinez would be the one most in need of Hafley's development skills. So we will see who that replacement is and if it's enough to get Martinez to sign six-and-a-half weeks from now.

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