Heat Check: Ryan Day Has the Buckeyes in Line for a Big Month As the Recruiting Dead Period Comes to an End

By Andrew Ellis on March 3, 2020 at 10:10 am
J.C. Latham will decide between Ohio State and LSU.

Recruiting is all about comfort and relationships. Sometimes you're gaining momentum on the trail, sometimes you're losing it. How are some of Ohio State's key prospects trending? Let's take a look.

The wait is over as Ohio State's spring practices are finally underway. Things kicked off yesterday and will culminate on April 11 with the annual spring scrimmage. Additionally, the beginning of March brought with it the end of the recruiting dead period, and things will finally pick back up on the trail.

The last two months have been mostly uneventful with the latest big piece of recruiting news coming on Feb. 1 with the addition of Streetsboro (Ohio) High School defensive tackle Michael Hall. Ohio State's 2021 class has 10 commitments and still checks in as the top class in the country

With the dead period now behind us, Ryan Day and his staff will welcome a number of important visitors in March before official visits get underway from April through the end of June. The start of spring practice and the end of the dead period brings some updates to our 2021 recruiting board.

JAKAILIN JOHNSON CB 1 1 ★★★★ Clemson•Georgia•Oklahoma
DONOVAN EDWARDS RB 2 2 ★★★★ Michigan•Georgia•Bama•LSU
EVAN PRYOR RB 3 3 ★★★★ North Carolina•Georgia•PSU
TUNMISE ADELEYE DE 4 5 ★★★★ Florida•Bama•TAMU•Oklahoma
J.C. LATHAM OT 5 8 ★★★★ LSU•Bama•Oklahoma
J.T. TUIMOLOAU DL 6 9 ★★★★★ Washington•Alabama•USC
JORDAN HANCOCK CB 7 NA ★★★★ Alabama•Georgia
DERRICK DAVIS JR. SAF 8 10 ★★★★ Penn State•Clemson
TREVEYON HENDERSON RB 9 NA ★★★★★ Oklahoma•Clemson•Michigan
TROY STELLATO WR 10 11 ★★★★ Clemson
EMEKA EGBUKA WR 11 NA ★★★★★ Clemson•Washington

*Last month's edition can be found HERE. 

Tony Alford has Ohio State's running back pursuit in a great spot right now. Things are trending in the right direction for Michigan's Donovan Edwards, and the country's No. 3 back is set to be back in Columbus later this week. The recent crystal ball activity has been nice to see, but it's still going to be a challenge to beat out Michigan and the SEC. Edwards' relationship with the Buckeyes' staff may be enough to land a big-time pledge this summer. 

North Carolina's Evan Pryor holds steady right behind Edwards in the three-hole, and it's looking like a Buckeye/Tarheel battle for the 5-foot-10, 190-pounder. Pryor was back in Chapel Hill last weekend and will return to Columbus later this month. He's looking to decide even sooner than Edwards, and right now I've got the Buckeyes edging out the Heels in the end.

This one is an extremely close race and the Ohio State surge with Edwards makes the timing of it all the more interesting. Would the Buckeyes accept a pledge from Pryor with their top tailback target still out there and looking to decide? I think the answer to that is "yes" and Edwards seems to be open to a rotational backfield, which certainly could make things a bit easier.

The latest 247 Sports rankings update has Virginia's TreVeyon Henderson pegged as the country's second-ranked tailback, and the five-star is now on our board at No. 9. Ohio State is recruiting him as hard as anyone, and he's planning on making a visit for the April spring game. Henderson scored 53 total touchdowns as a junior and holds a 4.0 grade-point average.

It's too early to label anyone as the favorite, but all of the national powers are involved. He's got plans to check out Michigan, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas this spring and seems to be in no hurry to make a decision. The Henderson highlight tape is truly a sight to behold. 

Sticking with the backfield, we've removed five-star Texas back Camar Wheaton and Cincinnati's Corey Kiner. Wheaton is one of the country's very best, but there's just no reason for too much optimism at this point. Kiner is another talented back with a craving for coneys and oyster crackers, but he may be down the board a bit right now. 

Jakailin Johnson still holds the top spot on our board, and there hasn't been too much going on for Kerry Coombs' top target. The St. Louis corner listed his top-six schools last month, but the Buckeyes continue to be the clear team to beat. A visit to Clemson can always make things interesting, however. 

Georgia's Jordan Hancock is the new addition, but it's going to be tough fending off the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide for the nation's sixth-best cornerback. Nick Saban may be out in front at the moment following February's trip to Tuscaloosa. Hancock is looking to check out Clemson this month.

Virginia's Tony Grimes was No. 1 overall on our initial 2021 board, but the five-star corner is nowhere to be found in March. Ohio State seems to have gained little traction with that one, but perhaps Coombs and Co. can make up some ground in the coming months.

Derrick Davis Jr. moves up to No. 8 on the board, and the Pennsylvania safety continues to focus on Oho State, Clemson and Penn State. His father is from Ohio and he was on campus last month, but the Buckeyes are going to have to fight it out as no decision appears to be on the horizon. Davis Jr. will be back at Clemson in April and could also check out Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs.

The IMG Academy duo of Tunmise Adeleye and J.C. Latham are up to No. 4 and 5 respectively. The Buckeyes are in a better spot for Latham, and the country's sixth-ranked tackle appears to be down to Ohio State and LSU. He'll make the trek to Columbus and Baton Rouge in April, and a return trip to the Midwest – of the official visit variety – is also in the plans. Latham is looking to decide by the end of April.

Larry Johnson continues to battle Florida and Alabama for Adeleye. The repeated trips to Florida are concerning, but the 2.5-hour trip from Bradenton to Gainesville will allow for that to happen more easily. The bottom line here is that Ohio State needs to get the Texas native back on campus, and it looks like that will happen for the April 11 spring game. It's expected to be an unofficial visit as he looks to announce before his senior season.

J.T. Tuimoloau moves up to the No. 6 spot on our board, and he's another guy Larry Johnson needs to get on campus. I get the feeling this one will ultimately come down to the Buckeyes and in-state Huskies. If the five-star doesn't make it to Columbus in the coming months, then we can probably file it under the "unlikely" category. 

Wide receiver is perhaps the least pressing need on the team right now, but we've got a pair of great ones on the board. Troy Stellato moves up a spot from last month and five-star Emeka Egbuka makes his debut at No. 11. This is an interesting scenario where Ohio State and Clemson may end up splitting the pair, but it'd be unwise to rule out Washington for Egbuka. 

Sure, landing both of these guys would be phenomenal. But at some point. you have to look at other position needs and have that magic number 85 floating around in your head. Stellato seems like the safer bet right now, but he's a priority for the Tigers as well. The Fort Lauderdale wideout made a big jump into the top 100 with the latest 247 Sports update. 

Egbuka reportedly could decide at any time and whenever he feels comfortable, but he's got a number of visits coming this spring, including to Columbus. Rated as the country's top wideout and No. 9 overall prospect, he put on a show in the recent Las Vegas 7-on-7. LSU and Oklahoma are also in the mix, but Ohio State, Clemson, and Washington look like the frontrunners.

March should be a nice little month with media access at several of Ohio State's practices. We'll eventually start hearing about the two freshmen quarterbacks, which new receivers are standing out, and perhaps even get a feel for some of the position battles. 

On the recruiting front, visitors will finally be heading back to Columbus and we may soon get some answers on Tony Alford's much-maligned running back recruiting. The winner takes it all in the race for the top 2021 recruiting class, and the next few months will give us a clearer picture as to whether or not Ohio State can come out on top.

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