The Hurry-Up: Ohio State Adds Preferred Walk-On Patrick Gurd, Mickey Marotti Details Zach Harrison Recruiting Story, Impact of Jason Kwon Departure

By Zack Carpenter on January 24, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Mickey Marotti
Mickey Marotti

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 add PWO

In October, Ohio State landed preferred walk-on Andrew Moore, a 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback out of Cleveland Heights. In January, the program announced the addition of another walk-on, tight end graduate transfer Corey Rau from SMU.

On Friday, the Buckeyes got another preferred walk-on in the versatile Patrick Gurd, a 2020 high school graduate from New Albany.

Gurd, a 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior, played tight end, linebacker and defensive end for New Albany's 7-3 squad this past season. 

Gurd collected 42 tackles, 3.5 sacks, eight tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, and on offense he added 104 yards receiving and one touchdown.

Marotti's first impression of Harrison

Mickey Marotti is not often open to the media, but on Wednesday, the Buckeyes' strength and conditioning coach had a press conference which ranged from talking about the miles-long growth of Justin Fields and Javontae Jean-Baptiste to the coffee intake and energy of Kerry Coombs.

One of the more entertaining segments of that presser came toward the end, when he discussed his first impressions of five-star defensive end Zach Harrison, who visited on recruiting trips from nearby Olentangy Orange. 

"When (Harrison) was recruiting, I'm like, 'What are we doing?'" Marotti said. "He was so quiet. He didn't want to talk. He wouldn't look you in your eye. It was so awkward. I was like, 'There's no way. I don't care if he runs a 21 (-second) 200-meter with no cleats on. What are we doing?' It's weird."

Apparently, that side of Harrison was 180 degrees different than how he really is. Turns out, he was just a kid who hated the sometimes headache-inducing recruiting process. 

"The first day he was here, it was completely the opposite," Marotti said. "I'm like, 'Zach, why were you like that in recruiting?' He's like, 'I hated it. I didn't want to talk.' He's like J.K (Dobbins). You see him, you feel him and you hear him. You do all those things. His ceiling's pretty high. He's got that high basement ceiling. Sometimes you go into those basements, they're real low. Like the houses that were built before 1980. He's got that 12-foot basement ceiling."

Eleven Warriors' Colin Hass-Hill wrote more about Marotti's approach to winter workouts, which includes a process of separating the 15 mid-year enrollees (14 freshmen, plus Rau) until the end of January to get their bodies more acclimated to the rigors of the training process before grouping them with the rest of the team. 

"You're talking about the largest mid-year group that I've ever been involved with," Marotti said. "It's a lot of years and a lot of guys. ... They came mentally ready for what's coming. They came focused. They're into it. It's a really good group. We just had a meeting and everybody in our department talked about how well the freshmen were doing just taking care of their business."

That group includes receiver Gee Scott Jr., whom Marotti compared to Austin Mack from a physicality standpoint. Scott is part of a four-receiver haul that Marotti says "can be as good as they want to be, but the receivers in the past have put in an inordinate amount of work to get where they got."

Kwon departure impact

Obviously quite late here but felt the need to include this since I haven't talked about it yet. 

Jason Kwon, who served as an Ohio State assistant coach in player personnel and recruiting, became the latest to announce he was leaving Columbus to join Jeff Hafley's staff at Boston College. 

Kwon was heavily involved with the Buckeyes' recruiting all over the map. He was often, like in the case of 2021 CB Jordan Hancock or in the case of 2021 WR Beaux Collins, the first assistant to get in touch with a recruit or one of the prime assistants in charge of ensuring the recruit was comfortable on campus and welcomed in the facilities. 

Kwon is also very knowledgeable about the Southern California area and knows the reputation of players out there, even from their youth days onward. It was Kwon who helped put the Buckeyes on the radar of their only 2023 target with an offer, quarterback Malachi Nelson out of Los Alamitos, which is just south of Los Angeles. 

"Jason and I communicate often," said Nelson's quarterback coach, Danny Hernandez, shortly after the Buckeyes offered Nelson in November. "We try to keep that relationship going as best as we can."

Hernandez says Kwon is one of those small names who could find himself being a hot coaching commodity soon enough. He has a ton of background knowledge on California skill position players, and he'll now be taking that knowledge with him in his next career step. 

When Ohio State practiced in Carson, Calif., prior to the 2019 Rose Bowl, Hernandez and Kwon connected and talked about some of the quarterbacks under Hernandez's tutelage, such as Bryce Young, DJ Uiagalelei and Maalik Murphy (a 2022 QB who holds an Ohio State offer).

"Jason's one of those very aggressive and savvy guys," Hernandez said. "Him being a SoCal guy, he sees one of those guys I work with, and he’s been watching them for years now. (He'll say), 'Yeah I remember that guy, he was a youth ball legend.' He’s in the know on who these guys are. He does a pretty good job on a lot of this stuff."

If he hasn't already done so, Mark Pantoni, Ohio State's director of player personnel, will obviously find a suitable replacement for Kwon.

This is not a task on par with replacing Hafley or replacing another coordinator. It's a minor challenge, but it's an important challenge nonetheless. 

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