The Hurry-Up: Impact of Cameron Martinez Staying with Ohio State, Buckeyes Have Four 2020 Five-Star Signees

By Zack Carpenter on January 28, 2020 at 7:41 pm
Cameron Martinez
Cameron Martinez

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.

Impact of Martinez staying

When Jeff Hafley left for Boston College and Clark Phillips III followed with a last-minute flip to Utah, it added a much bigger emphasis for Ohio State and Ryan Day to keep Cameron Martinez in the 2020 recruiting class.

Mission accomplished. 

On Tuesday afternoon, five days after Martinez was visited by Kerry Coombs for the pair's first meeting, Martinez announced that he would stay committed to Ohio State and he will sign with the Buckeyes on National Signing Day next Wednesday, completing the nation's No. 5-ranked class.

Martinez's decision to stay committed immediately shows the effect Coombs will have on the program moving forward. He showed enough, in just over one week after becoming Ohio State's new defensive coordinator, for Martinez to feel confident in his decision to become a Buckeye. He never took a visit to another school and never decommitted after choosing not to sign during the mid-December early signing period.

Don't be surprised if Coombs ends up putting together something special in his first defensive backs class in 2021 after he finished off the 2020 class by keeping Martinez in the fold.

Martinez's decision to sign with the Buckeyes was a successful payoff of Day's slow-play recruiting method. Relationships are the most critical aspect of the recruiting process, and Day seems to be truly banking on his staff's abilities to carve out genuine, long-lasting relationships during their recruitments even more than most. This is an example of that strategy paying off, as Martinez said he never felt any pressure from Day (or coaches from Minnesota, Notre Dame and Northwestern, it needs to be said) to hurry up and sign in December when he chose to wait until February.

The Buckeyes' patience with Martinez paid off, and now, the Buckeyes are getting a player ranked as the No. 323 overall prospect in the nation who they believe will turn into something special with the right guidance. I've compared Martinez to Malik Hooker, one of Coombs' most noteworthy players during his tenure from 2012-17, just in terms of being an all-around athlete who was rated low coming out of high school but was budding with potential at the safety position. 

If Coombs can develop Martinez, perhaps he could turn into an elite playmaker down the line as well.

As an added bonus, Martinez's signing is another win for the Buckeyes in the state of Michigan as they land the Gatorade Player of the Year, two-time MLive Player of the Year and No. 7-ranked player in the state.

Stroud, Smith-Njigba earn fifth stars

The final Top247 rankings for the 2020 class were released on Tuesday, and that included an hour-long show on Facebook Live, hosted by 247Sports digital content director Josh Pate and director of scouting Barton Simmons, to reveal the 32 five-star prospects in the class.

The list, which is designed to project the top 32 future NFL draft prospects in the class, features four Buckeye signees, including a new pair of five-stars in quarterback CJ Stroud and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

On the broadcast, Simmons said, “I really believe this is one of our better five-star groups that we've put together in a few years.”

247Sports' analysis of all four five-star Buckeyes:

29. QB CJ Stroud

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 194 lbs

Pro comparison: Teddy Bridgewater

From Simmons: "When you look at what CJ Stroud brings to the table in terms of his tools, his arm talent, he's really special. This is another player we're excited about his trajectory. Think about last year, as a junior, 2,342 yards passing, 19 touchdowns. Solid season. Then he goes, and credit our guys out west (247Sports recruiting analysts) Greg Biggins, Brandon Huffman and those guys, who really believed in the upside there. And (Stroud) made them look good by winning the Elite 11 MVP and just showed outstanding arm strength. Feel, touch, accuracy. All those sorts of things, and then he goes into his senior season from 2,300 yards to 3,800 yards and 19 touchdowns to 47 touchdowns. That just shows the leap he made and is in the process of making.

"He was at the All-American Bowl, and I think this is the type of kid with the upside, and especially going to Ohio State, is gonna have a chance to sit for a season behind Justin Fields. I think he's the next great one for the Buckeyes.

"I think we believe in CJ Stroud a little more than the rest of the industry. Again, the third quarterback in this class that's made big leaps that we think is more of the new-age, modern quarterback with his mobility."

15. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 188 lbs

Pro comparison: Roddy White

From Simmons: "As a sophomore, 1,300 yards, nine touchdowns. As a junior, 1,800 yards, 20 touchdowns. As a senior, 2,100 yards, 35 touchdowns. This is as a receiver. These aren't rushing yards. This remarkable what he's been able to accomplish during his high school career, but when you watch him play, it's no surprise. This is as polished a high school receiver as maybe I can remember.

"The efficiency of movement of this kid as a route runner, the ability of him to use his body to track the football, all these little things at the wide receiver position he's already good at. So he's gonna go to Ohio State and I think be instantly ready to compete and to contribute. He's a 4.6 guy right now but could get faster, and I think his athleticism is actually pretty elite. It's just so deceptive because of how efficient he is as a mover. I love this kid as a competitor and as a player."

8. OT Paris Johnson Jr.

Measurables: 6-foot-7, 290 lbs

Pro comparison: Ronnie Stanley

From Simmons: "He has the frame that you want as an offensive tackle. He has the length. He has 35-inch arms. He has the 6-foot-7 frame and 290 pounds. It's lean, long and athletic. He's an athlete, first, and an offensive lineman, second. But don't take that to mean that he doesn't have an offensive lineman's demeanor. And that's what I love about Paris Johnson. 

"At the All-American Bowl, sometimes offensive linemen aren't there yet from a polished and technique standpoint. Hand placement needs a little work. Footwork isn't quite there yet. He's still learning, still developing some of those traits. But go back and turn on the film and watch the way this kid, who runs a 5.05 40 and 4.50 shuttle and has all this athleticism and physical upside. Watch the way he finishes a block. Watch the way he engages. Watch the nastiness that he plays with at the offensive line. I think that's as important as anything as an offensive lineman, where you're gonna be in those trench battles play-in and play-out, and I think Paris Johnson has the competitiveness to really thrive in that atmosphere.

"That's what's exciting about him. That's why, though there might be some other offensive linemen right now that are more effective in a one-on-one setting, there's none that we have more confidence will continue to improve and max out their potential in a way Paris Johnson will."

4. WR Julian Fleming

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 199 lbs

Pro comparison: Julio Jones

For Simmons: "I have to tip my cap to Julian Fleming for holding onto this spot. This is a tough task for a wide receiver, kind of a devalued position in our eyes in terms of quarterbacks, defensive ends, offensive tackles. Those are the types of positions that are usually in our top five. You don't typically see wide receivers, for us, in the top five. In fact, the comp we put on there, Julio Jones, that may be one of the last ones that we had this high. But that's what we feel about Julian Fleming. That speaks to how he fended off all the guys gunning for this spot. The way he did it was just to continue to show up and compete."

Gee Scott narrowly misses cut

At No. 37 overall, receiver signee Gee Scott Jr. was just on the outside looking in of making the top 32. Simmons said Scott was one of the five players that 247Sports scouts believed was right on the cusp of becoming a five-star prospect.

From Simmons: "He's as polished as they come. He's big. He makes one-handed catches routine. But just maybe not quite the juice we needed to put him in that five-star crop."

Linebacker Cody Simon, meanwhile, continued his ascent up the rankings. In the Top247 rankings, Simon comes in at No. 97, which is a jump of 49 spots following a tremendous week at the All-American Bowl in early January. 

Take a look at Eleven Warriors writer Kevin Harrish's complete rundown of recruiting rankings for the quartet of five-star signees.

Buckeyes offer Turner, Winfield

Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes once again extended themselves into the state of Texas, offering DeSoto High School star Shemar Turner on Monday.

Ranked as the 15th-best strongside defensive end in the 2021 class, Turner has great size at 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, and he's known as a great athlete in the Lone Star State, where he's the 35th-ranked junior recruit in the state.

A potential fit in a three-man front, the nation's 218th-ranked overall prospect is the 17th defensive end in 2021 to receive an Ohio State offer and is the 19th player from Texas to get an offer from the Buckeyes.

In the 2022 class, the program has already offered seven players from Texas, which makes up 30 percent of the total offers (23) Ohio State has dished out in the sophomore cycle. 

That includes 6-foot-3, 195-pound pro-style quarterback Quinn Ewers, a signal caller out of Southlake Carroll High School who is already expected to be among the best the class has to offer at the position. 

The Buckeye coaching staff was down in Southlake to visit Ewers' school on Tuesday morning and was one of nine schools to have a presence there.

Also on Tuesday, Ohio State dished out an offer to 2022 receiver Armani Winfield.

Winfield, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound sophomore out of Lewisville (Texas) High School, already has a very impressive offer sheet including Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

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