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.
In last night’s Hurry-Up, we detailed one player (Denzel Burke) who is worth keeping an eye on in the 2021 class as the Buckeyes look to get him on campus in March or April, with Burke seeming like a good fit as a defensive back and kick returner.
We also detailed a running back (Stephan Byrd) and quarterback (Tevin Carter) in the 2022 cycle who are on the rise and could end up finding themselves worthy of an Ohio State offer and an uptick in their recruitment to the Buckeyes.
Tonight, we’re once again highlighting a host of players – cornerback Devonta Smith, tight end Donovan Green and athlete Dane Key – who do not yet have offers from Ohio State but who could each end up with the option to play for the scarlet and gray at some point soon.
We start off by detailing the player closest to earning himself an Ohio State offer, and that's the 5-foot-11, 170-pound cornerback from Cincinnati La Salle whose defense proved instrumental in the program winning a Division-II state championship.
The three-star cornerback is coming off a big week in his recruitment, as he landed offers from Oregon and Alabama, each of which he had been dying to get an offer from.
"It was very impactful because it was a dream school of mine," Smith told Eleven Warriors of his offer from Alabama. "I actually talked to Nick Saban, which was very mind-blowing and something I’m grateful for."
It's possible that offers from both of those programs could end up opening more doors in Smith's recruitment, as he currently sits near 30 offers. That includes from Kentucky, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State and Tennessee.
"I’m sure it will lead to bigger offers, but if not it’s OK," Smith said. "I’m just going to keep my head down and work harder."
Of course, one of the most noticeable offers Smith does not have is from Ohio State, as the Buckeyes are continuing to evaluate 2021 defensive backs across the country in one of their biggest positions of need in this next cycle. Smith is being patient with the Buckeyes, hoping to get that coveted offer.
"To be honest, my relationship with the Ohio State coaches are not as strong as I would like it to be. We text every other week," Smith said.
This is where the inclusion of Kerry Coombs comes into play, as the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator/secondary coach has been using his Cincinnati roots to build a relationship with Smith.
"I think me and Coach Coombs' relationship is pretty unique given the fact we come from the same hometown and really lived in the same neighborhood," Smith said. "My impression on Coach Coombs is he’s one of the greats. That’s all I can say. And it’s a humbling experience to be able to even have a conversation with him."
Next up for Smith is getting back to Columbus for a visit, as he plans on visiting sometime this spring, and he will also "hopefully" get to Oregon and Alabama for visits this spring as well. It's very possible his next visit to Ohio State is when he will earn that offer from Coombs and the Buckeyes. If that offer never comes, Smith has plenty of other schools gunning for him, and his plan is to continue focusing on the ones he does have.
"Coach Coombs has told me what it would take to earn the offer, and honestly I feel like I have (earned an offer) because I work day in and day out," Smith said. "But if he and the Ohio State staff don't feel like I did, all I’m gonna do is continue to work. That’s all I’m gonna do. That’s all I can do."
Smith's teammate, Jaylen Johnson, committed to the Buckeyes in January.
The Buckeyes are continuing to build relationships and make their pitches to tight ends in the 2021 class as they look for a second player at the position to pair with three-star commit Sam Hart.
As for the next cycle, assuming they are able to land a second tight end in 2021, the Buckeyes will only be looking to sign one tight end, and one of their top targets could be the Dickinson (Texas) High School standout, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore. Green already has 20 offers, including from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Baylor, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas.
Though Green says the Buckeye coaching staff has not gotten in touch with him yet, the program still stands out for its "great tradition for winning, and I love winning."
As for what college coaches love about Green?
"Most coaches talk about liking my route running and hands, also the fact that I don't mind blocking," Green told Eleven Warriors.
Obviously, the Buckeyes have not been known for getting their tight ends the ball in the passing game, and that could end up being a turn-off for Green (and other top tight ends in 2022 and beyond) if that doesn't change.
"If (the Buckeyes) recruit me, how much they get the ball to the tight end will be top on my list of questions," Green said.
A visit from Green to Columbus is not yet in the cards, as he says a March 14 visit to LSU is the only visit he will absolutely be visiting thus far depending on his other team's success.
"That's only if my basketball team doesn't make it to the state championship. Me and my parents are going to map out schools to visit," Green said. "(LSU) calls and ask my coaches how I'm doing a lot. They really want me to come visit. They used both tight ends last year, and that was nice to see. Both was involved in the passing game."
On April 26, Frederick Douglass (Ky.) High School star offensive guard Jager Burton, one of the Buckeyes' top targets in the 2021 class along the offensive line, will be making his way to Columbus for a visit.
Tagging along with Burton will be his teammate Key, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound sophomore listed as an athlete. Key is starting to form a relationship with Brian Hartline, and Key is hoping to building on that in his upcoming visit.
"I haven’t really met with Coach Hartline. I look forward to meeting him when I go there though," Key told Eleven Warriors. "I am looking forward to meeting all the coaches and seeing all the nice facilities.
"I talk to them just a little, but I can’t talk to them that much because of the NCAA. And the coaches can’t talk to me because of my 2022 class."
The Buckeye coaches have not specified what they want or need to see out of Key in order for him to earn an offer, just that they want to get him on campus.
"Them knowing how to win and them airing the ball out and letting their wide receivers go and get the ball (stands out about the program)," Key said.
One program that is recruiting Key hard is Kentucky as the Wildcats (along with Oregon, Louisville, Western Kentucky and Marshall) are one of five programs to have dished out early offers.
"Coach (Vince) Marrow is a great guy. I love to be around him," Key said of Kentucky's recruiting coordinator.