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.
Carroll will bring elite speed to OSU or SEC
Remember that scene in Rocky II when Mickey has Rocky chase a chicken around in a back alley to help him with his footwork?
At one point in his life, that was Lovasea Carroll.
As a 3-year-old, Carroll went to live with his aunt and uncle on a farm in northwest Georgia, and he lived there until he moved again at 6 years old.
During that three-to-four year period, Carroll and his cousins would run around chasing chickens, pigs and some other animals, and Carroll would sometimes go on jogs down country roads.
"It was a great experience. It was fun," Carroll told Eleven Warriors. "It was a real good time just playing with my cousins and stuff. It was good times. I’d get my hands dirty, too. It’s a lot of work because you’re caring for the animals – pigs, cows, chickens. It was fun at times."
Carroll now runs a 4.35-second 40-yard dash as a junior at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He was gifted with a natural ability to run and run fast, and it's a skill he's honed through hard work and training.
But those animal chases at such a young age? Well, that was just a good start to helping build the No. 1 asset that has taken his football career to another level as one of the best high school running backs in America.
"(Speed has) been my main strength since I started playing football since the age of 5," Carroll said. "I’ve always played running back – ever since I was playing youth recreation league ball, all the way up to my ninth grade year. I’ve always known I was gonna be a running back."
He doesn't remember any specific runs as a youth league star, or any exact big individual performances. Carroll "just knew that when I touched the ball, no one was gonna catch me. That’s all I remember."
Carroll then grew up to be a Georgia star, amassing 1,446 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on 143 carries and totaling four reception touchdowns as a sophomore at Warren County High School.
He then chose to transfer to IMG because he "wanted the competition and all that. Coming here, I knew it was gonna be tough competition where you can compete against the best. I knew (my recruitment) was gonna get bigger than what it was because I was on the biggest stage. I knew that if I turned up like I did, that everybody was gonna be coming at me hard."
His recruitment certainly has taken off, as he currently sits ranked as the No. 7 running back in the nation and No. 101 overall in the 2021 class.
Fast forward a decade after those days on the farm, and those days on Georgia football fields, and Carroll is now choosing between four SEC programs (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Auburn) and Ohio State for where he will continue his career.
"I feel that (each of those programs) can produce me and develop me into a better running back and develop me into a better person," Carroll said. "As a man, they each develop you."
What else does Carroll like about each school?
- South Carolina: "The love when I first got there, the love that they gave me showed there. Once I decommitted, they never (stopped recruiting me). They still are coming after me. That really meant a lot to me."
- Florida: "Florida’s always been a school that I always wanted, and once I got an offer, the relationships with the coaches grew stronger and with whatever school I go to that’s huge."
- Georgia: "They’re my home state. Ever since I first got the offer (in March or April as a sophomore), they’ve been after me hard. They never looked back. They’re coming after me hard. Probably twice a week, I talk to Coach Smart. They’re like, we love you. They like me. They’re home. My home school is always gonna be right there."
- Auburn: "I just love the coaches down there. The energy they bring, I just love it."
And how did Ohio State find its way into being a finalist for a running back from the south who has strong pulls to SEC programs?
"When Coach (Tony) Alford first offered me, we didn’t talk about football," Carroll said of the Buckeyes' running backs coach, who offered him on Aug. 25, 2019. "We talked about life after football because football doesn’t last long. So you never realize when it’s gonna be gone.
"(Alford) just talks about how if football doesn’t work out, they have a strong alumni group of former football players and stuff like that."
Despite the love the Buckeyes have shown, and how strong of an option they are to be his future team, Carroll has never been to Columbus or campus for a visit. It will be critical for Ohio State to get Carroll in for a visit as it continues to focus on running back as its top priority in the 2021 class. Carroll says that neither Alford, nor any other Ohio State coach, has told him that they are trying to land two running backs in this class.
"I haven’t been there yet. I’m planning on going up in the spring sometime when school’s done at IMG," Carroll said. "We don’t have much free time so I’ve gotta take some of those visits then."
April 11, the day of the Buckeyes' spring game, is one date Carroll says he will be looking at to visit. No matter what date he picks, it will have to come before August 6. That's Carroll's mom's birthday, and it's the firm commitment date he has set, wanting to get the recruiting process wrapped up so he can focus on his senior year.
"I just wanna be able to focus on football," Carroll said. "I wanna be able to focus on school and my season. I don’t wanna have to worry about what school I’m going to. I wanna get it out of the way and commit early before the season starts."
Carroll originally committed to South Carolina during his sophomore year, before he ended up transferring to IMG and ramping up his recruitment. That's why he chose to decommit on Sept. 1. After he released a top eight three months ago that did not include the Gamecocks, the program found its way back into his latest top five two weeks ago.
"I was in 10th grade when I committed so I felt like – once I was more in the flow, I felt like I wanted to explore more options and not be stuck with one school and feel pressure," Carroll said. "So I went ahead and decided to decommit."
South Carolina is squarely back in the picture, and it's quite possible that's where he still ends up. Wherever he does go to school, it will end a years-long process for Carroll that began when he was tearing up youth fields in Georgia.
"It just hasn’t hit because I never felt like I would be in this position I’m in. I wasn’t even paying attention to (possibly playing in college) because I was just playing football," Carroll said. "But once I got to my ninth grade year and my 10th-grade year, I started thinking 'this could be it for me.' And then the offers started coming in, and I thought, 'this is it.'"