The Hurry-Up: Addressing the Numbers Issue, And Buckeyes Offer No. 6-Ranked 2021 WR Mario Williams

By Zack Carpenter on February 6, 2020 at 6:30 pm
C.J. Saunders

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.

Numbers issue

The 2020 recruiting class is signed and sealed, the 14 midyear enrollees have been on campus for a month to train with Mickey Marotti, and the Buckeyes' recruiting efforts have officially been turned to the 2021 class.

Over the next couple weeks, I'm planning on talking to as many players from the 2021 and 2022 classes as I can – those who have been offered by Ohio State over the past few weeks so we can get to know them a little more and those who have held Ohio State offers since basically the dawn of time – to find out more about them and see where they are at in this stage of the recruiting process. 

But first, it's time to revisit a question that we all discussed in the Dec. 13 edition of The Hurry-Up – the numbers issue, which is an issue that is going to be addressed again in the spring, and maybe again in the fall, until there's a full resolution.

Teams are only allowed 85 scholarship players on the roster. It's not as if the Buckeyes are at a crazy number like 93 such players, but they are still over the limit right now. Following the January transfer of Alex Williams to Vanderbilt and the signing of Cameron Martinez on Wednesday, there are 86 scholarship players at Ohio State, and there's a chance that number jumps to 87.

"We had to walk away from a couple of guys here in February because I didn't want to be put in that situation.”– Ryan Day on backing off recruits because of the 85-man scholarship limit

(As a reminder, 2020 kicker signee Jake Seibert is grayshirting so his scholarship won't count until 2021. On Wednesday, Ryan Day said of Seibert's grayshirt situation, "That will depend on how things go. We do have flexibility with that one.")

Receiver C.J. Saunders is still seeking a sixth year of eligibility, and Day said they are still "waiting to see" if that extra year will be granted by the NCAA.

While admitting that "these things have their way of working themselves out," Day also says getting down to the 85-man limit can also be "a tricky thing."

And having been over the number is one reason the Buckeyes ended up backing away from recruitments of players like running back Jahmyr Gibbs (who, as a side note, ended up signing with Georgia Tech after all the hoopla and speculation about him potentially ending up at Florida, LSU or elsewhere). 

"We had to walk away from a couple of guys here in February because I didn't want to be put in that situation," Day said. "And so we'll see how these things work out in the spring, and obviously with the transfer portal we never want to lose anybody, but you also have to forecast that out a little bit so you're not short and there's also medicals and different things that way. So, again they have their way of working themselves out and we'll just try to forecast the best we can."

With Saunders, it gets trickier because of his specific situation. He's a former walk-on who rose to become a captain, and his intangibles (veteran leadership, emotional support being chief among them) are where his main assets lie. His halftime speech during the Big Ten Championship game may have been his peak as a Buckeye, but with the blue-chip recruits coming in at receiver (who are objectively more talented at the position than Saunders), there's a balance that has to be struck.

"I think one of the keys right now to our success in moving forward a year into this is the balance of young talented recruits who come in here, who want to play early, and then having the maturity of guys who are fourth- and fifth-year seniors who have been in the program, who bring a certain level of leadership and maturity that the team needs to go win the whole thing," Day said. "And I think balancing that is part of the job as the head coach and figuring that out. And C.J.'s maturity, his leadership, the talk he gave at the Big Ten Championship game at halftime was unbelievable. Guys like Justin Hilliard getting up in front of the group already and mat drills and just talking about a bunch of stuff moving forward.

"We need that leadership and maturity because we do recruit a lot of young talented guys. But you don't want to (have) an immature group when you go play those bowl games in January. That's the balance that – we're trying to figure out that chemistry."

There are a lot of scenarios that could still play out here in regards to Saunders, potential transfers or potential injuries. As Day said, these things typically work out in the end, but it's worth keeping a keen eye on until they do. 

Buckeyes offer another

Offer the past month, the Buckeyes have offered (by my count) 17 new players across the next two cycles (13 in 2021; four in 2022). 

The 17th was announced on Thursday, as the nation's No. 6-ranked receiver in the 2021 class, Mario Williams, said on Twitter that Ohio State has come calling.

Williams, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior out of Plant City (Fla.) High School, has a body type that seems to fit the slot mold, which is a position Ohio State is recruiting heavily with its pitches to Troy Stellato

Williams is the No. 48-ranked overall junior in the country and the No. 9-ranked Florida high school player. He released his top-five schools in early December of Alabama, LSU, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. 

But with Brian Hartline, the 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year, now in the fold, perhaps the Buckeyes could get themselves in the picture.

State champs

The Buckeyes signed eight players in Ohio in the 2020 class, and they obviously dominated the state. But they also made their presence felt in Arizona and New Jersey by signing two top-end talents in each one. 

In Arizona, quarterback Jack Miller and safety Lathan Ransom were plucked, and in New Jersey, offensive lineman Luke Wypler and linebacker Cody Simon. 

Wypler and Simon are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, in New Jersey, while Ransom (No. 4) and Miller (No. 9) are also in the top 10 of Arizona. 

Signing those players gave Ohio State the top presence, rankings-wise, in each state.

Fryar shows some humor, heart

Speaking of states, the Buckeyes' lone grab from Indiana in the 2020 class was offensive lineman Josh Fryar. 

On Wednesday, Fryar was selected to be one of the Big Ten Network's featured athletes in an interview segment with analyst Gerry DiNardo.

The two highlights?

Well, first Fryar asked DiNardo, "Are you wearing makeup?"

And when DiNardo asked Fryar the same question, he admitted, "Yeah. A little bit."

(For what it's worth, based on that genuine laugh in the background, I don't think that was a a scripted moment.)

And when asked why he chose Ohio State, Fryar's first response is something that those who follow Buckeyes recruiting would not find surprising.

"Really, because the coaching staff and players are really just like a family to me," Fryar said. "I just really appreciate them, after I committed, welcoming me. All the texts from players and coaches, it really was just a heartwarming feeling in my body."

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