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.
No ultimatums, no pushing
Cameron Martinez’s recruitment over the past month and a half is a microcosm of Ohio State’s approach with recruits.
In the same instances with Paris Johnson Jr. and Lejond Cavazos – Johnson’s commitment was very much in limbo following the retirement of Urban Meyer, and Cavazos decommitted following Meyer’s departure – the coaching staff stayed patient, didn’t panic and didn’t offer ultimatums to them.
It’s all part of the process that Ryan Day has been building his program around. The staff wants recruits to take their time making decisions because they only want them there if they're there for the long haul. Having an easier way out of a program, with the way the transfer portal is set up, has made that approach a more effective way to recruit, and it will pay off down the road.
At least, that’s what this staff is banking on, and we’re going to find out in the 2021 and 2022 cycles if Day’s approach here is a sustainable one. Outside of individual recruitments, that’s probably the most interesting overarching recruiting storyline over the next two years, and Day gave more insight to that approach on Wednesday.
“I think in today's day and age, whether you sign or not, if the kid's not happy or doesn't really pick the school for the right reasons, he's going to end up in the transfer portal and leave anyways,” Day said. “It's not just about getting the kid to sign on the dotted line. It's not that way anymore. Now, it's having trust and having the relationship with the family and common respect for each other that things are going to go in a certain way.
“And I think that's the way it is with Cam, and I think that's the way it is with all the recruits in that they know they're going to be treated the same way they're recruited – I mean, treated the same way they're here as when they were recruited.”
“But at the same time, I told him if he needs to go look at other places, that he can do that. I said I'm not going to like that too much, but at the same time I respect your family enough that you can go ahead and check some places out.”– Ryan Day on how he handled cameron Martinez's decision to not sign in december
More on Martinez's role, recruitment
We talked about Martinez’s recruitment and impending decision a few times in January – OK, more than a few times – about how the Buckeyes were staying patient with Martinez.
Day finally got the chance to publicly address Martinez’s decision not to sign in December and how they went about the business of recruiting him.
"Well, I totally understood," Day said. "I talked about the continuity and that I'm going to go hire the best coach I can in the country. And Kerry (Coombs) was my number one pick, and that worked out. And a place like Ohio State, you're going to have great coaches here. And I told him it's my job to make sure he has the best coach he can possibly have, and that's what we're going to do.
"But at the same time, I told him if he needs to go look at other places, that he can do that. I said I'm not going to like that too much, but at the same time I respect your family enough that you can go ahead and check some places out. Now, he never really ended up doing that. But I think he really understood that and respected the fact that we didn't hold him to the fire, anything like that. We said, listen, you want to go check out some schools, feel free. Once we get the secondary coach and coordinator in place, I know you're going to love it. And he did. It all worked out."
Eleven Warriors' Colin Hass-Hill visited Martinez in Muskegon, Mich., on National Signing Day, and you can read his piece on Martinez and his potential to play both sides of the ball here.
If you haven’t read that yet, I highly recommend it because it gives some great insight from Martinez himself on where his mind is at and his background as a player.
But I did want to revisit Martinez again because it was interesting that Day, unprompted to start Wednesday’s press conference, said in his introduction that, “We'll give him an opportunity to play on either side of the ball when he first gets in.”
Cameron Martinez is a Buckeye. pic.twitter.com/CaIPfBCXlG— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) February 5, 2020
He went on to talk about all the different places Martinez might fit – slot or outside corner, running back, return man. It felt like he was talking directly to Martinez there – a public way of putting Martinez at ease, once again, that he is in control of his own destiny.
Day and the Buckeyes were able to get Martinez to sign, in large part, because of the pitch that they would play him where he wants to play.
Martinez will get those opportunities at running back. He’s an incredible athlete, and he’s plenty explosive. But the odds are still very much in the favor of him ending up at defensive back with the opportunity to be a return man – that he’ll play where the Ohio State coaches see the fit.
But even though he most likely ends up in Coombs’ position room, the debate on Martinez’s position will continue throughout the fall because it’s an incredibly fun discussion to have. Who the No. 1 running back will be is probably the most interesting, spirited debate to have, and Martinez will be right up there as one of the most intriguing players to keep an eye on during camp.
Until then, it’s fun to hash it out back-and-forth on if he could end up being a running back, slot receiver or nickel corner. Even throw “emergency quarterback” in there just for fun. These types of debates are what keeps us sane during the winter as we’re six months out from fall camp.
Moore accepts PWO
Last week, the Buckeyes got another player in the 2020 class by taking preferred walk-on Kyle Moore.
Moore is a 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive tackle and defensive end from Youngstown, Ohio, where he was a senior starter on Austintown-Fitch High School’s team that went 5-5 in 2019, and he was a junior starter when it went 8-3 in 2018. He gained about 30 pounds to his frame between his junior and senior seasons.
Hall makes Sports Illustrated list
John Garcia Jr., director of football recruiting for Sports Illustrated, released a top-10 list of notable recent commitments in the 2021 class, which features Ohio State defensive tackle commit Michael Hall Jr. as one of the standouts.
Garcia’s analysis says much of the same things as ours, but for an in-state player to get some national recognition is noteworthy:
DL Mike Hall - Ohio State - An ideally-framed interior line defender and in-state snag out of Streetsboro High, Hall has length and mass to his name. He is quicker than most with some advanced hand-fighting skill and re-directional ability. Fast off of the football, Hall can also win with leverage and power one-on-one, too. The 6-foot-3, 295-pounder has enough explosiveness to be considered a strong pass-rushing threat at the position, a trait becoming more and more important in the defense tackle evaluation game considering the pass-first nature of offense in 2020. Hall has a lot his his arsenal already to the point he could probably line up outside on occasion with success one day in the Big Ten.
Hall, who committed last weekend, is an exciting player with All-Big Ten potential, high character, budding leadership qualities, and a guy who could be special under the tutelage of Larry Johnson.