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.
As Ohio State looks to fill one of its biggest needs in the 2021 class, defensive end, with another standout to pair with five-star Jack Sawyer, it’s looking like at least one big name is off the board at this point in time.
Pleasant Grove (Texas) High School’s Landon Jackson – a fellow five-star, the No. 1-ranked weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 16-ranked overall player in the 2021 cycle – says the Buckeyes have not been talking with him much lately.
“I would love to get up (to Columbus for a visit), but I haven’t really talked to the coaches a whole lot recently,” Jackson told Eleven Warriors.
In July, the 6-foot-6, 240-pounder released his top 10 list of schools – Alabama, Arkansas, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas and Washington.
Not on the list was Ohio State since defensive line coach Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes had not yet broken ground in Texarkana to visit with the star pass rusher. Some of that could be attributed to the fact that Jackson suffered a season-ending knee injury that forced him to miss the end of his sophomore season, as it took some time for Jackson to re-establish himself.
He did re-establish himself in a big way, though, and in September, Johnson and Jackson talked on the phone multiple times, and Johnson extended an offer. About a month later, in late October, Johnson visited Pleasant Grove, and that had the feel of a breakthrough moment for the Buckeyes in establishing a relationship with Jackson – who, in multiple reports, began enthusiastically talking highly of Ohio State as one of his top schools and Johnson as his potential developer at the next level following the visit.
But over the last several weeks, their recruitment of Jackson has been virtually nonexistent. The Buckeyes expressed a lot of interest in the fall with that one visit, but they have not visited since.
Pleasant Grove head coach Josh Gibson says the Buckeyes have had "zero contact" with Gibson since that visit, and Gibson says he's "not sure how much (time) they put into Landon, either, as he doesn't talk about them much anymore."
The other programs have continued to stay steady, as it sounds like the Buckeyes would have to make a major comeback here to overtake them.
"Ohio State hasn't been near as involved as the Texas area schools, LSU and Oklahoma," Gibson told Eleven Warriors. "(Ohio State hasn't) made as much contact with Landon compared to (the) other top-10 schools.
"In the fall, it seemed like Ohio State was really big on Landon, but they just haven't followed through like most of the other schools – Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Oregon, Washington, etc. Those schools come multiple times each semester and use all of their visits that they possibly can. Texas, TCU, A&M flew the head coaches and several assistants out a couple of weeks ago. The prior week, they sent position coaches. They recruit Landon hard.”
Top Ten pic.twitter.com/GfetcN0jKx— Landon Jackson (@landonjackson40) July 5, 2019
Every move in recruiting is calculated, and with the reputation Johnson has for being a thorough, effective recruiter, it has to be assumed the Buckeyes' tempering their recruitment of Jackson was calculated as well.
One reason could be that the Buckeyes got into the game here late, and maybe they didn’t feel like they could get solid footing with Jackson. It's also possible Johnson sees qualities out of other defensive ends – like Tunmise Adeleye, Demeioun Robinson and Jahzion Harris, to name a few – that he feels he can work with more effectively.
Also possibly factoring in could be the Buckeyes’ evaluation of him. Previously ranked the No. 20 overall player by Rivals, Jackson plummeted 196 spots to No. 216 overall in the latest rankings released on Tuesday. (His 247Sports Composite score has not yet changed as of this writing.) It’s quite possible that Johnson and Ohio State don’t believe he would be a fit for them.
Jackson is still a great a talent, though, and if Ohio State is to get back in Jackson’s recruitment (if the program wants to), then it sounds like there’s a lot of ground to be made up – especially since Gibson said he knows that Jackson “would like to make a decision this summer so he can have it done and enjoy his senior season.”
“I know that as of now, Landon plans to take officials to Texas AM, Texas, LSU and Washington," Gibson said. "Not sure who his 5th school will be. Not all of those have been scheduled at this time.”
A visit to Columbus does not appear imminent.
“There aren't concrete plans for a visit to Ohio State,” Gibson said. “I know he's interested in the OSU but doesn't have a visit set up at this time.”
Things will continue ratcheting up for the young junior, but it will be important for Jackson to remain even keeled and patient throughout the process. He’s been doing a good job through it all thus far.
“It’s been getting pretty hectic,” Jackson said. “I’ve stayed calm through all of it.”
Back in early November, we detailed what a realistic, but still very much star-studded, No. 1-ranked 2021 class for Ohio State could look like.
Today, here’s a February look at what the No. 1 overall class for the Buckeyes could end up looking like.
QB – Kyle McCord (1)
TE – Sam Hart (1)
*Robinson is listed as a WDE in his 247Sports Composite position, an OLB on Rivals and on tape flashes ability to play at either spot
Ohio State’s 2021 class will most likely end up being somewhere in the low 20s, and with this haul, it would give them a 23-man class that fills all the major needs of the class, especially two running backs, a pair of stud defensive ends, another (Robinson) who could play DE or LB, three corners, two safeties (in case the Buckeyes are hoping to mix in more split safety looks in the future) and another strong haul at offensive line.
Ohio State has continued to tell recruits it is hoping to sign two tight ends in the class, but the program would surely sacrifice the extra TE if it has to, numbers-wise, if that meant landing the other players on this list.
This haul gives them a 315.73 overall score. Over the past five cycles (2016-2020), that would be ranked No. 1 in two classes (2016, 2020) and would be the second-highest (2018) overall score for the Buckeyes.
I do believe Ohio State’s class could end up looking something like that one above, but if nothing else, it’s a fun debate and can be looked back on in a few months and torn to shreds if it’s nowhere close.
Blackwell commits to North Carolina
Four-star Sun Valley (N.C.) High School receiver Gavin Blackwell committed to North Carolina on Monday afternoon.
Happy Birthday Momma!— Gavin Blackwell (@Gavo2times_) February 10, 2020
Blackwell was not likely to be an Ohio State commit down the road. Following the 2020 haul, the Buckeyes are able to be much more selective in their process, and they are focused much more heavily on Emeka Egbuka and Troy Stellato.
But Blackwell was a talented Ohio State target – ranked No. 14 in the country at the position, No. 84 overall and No. 4 in the state of North Carolina – who took a visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ win over Penn State in November. If the Buckeyes strike out on Egbuka and Stellato, Blackwell is most likely to be off the board now.