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.
It's been a little while since I've done a recruiting mailbag. In fact, the last time I did one, the Chiefs were not yet Super Bowl champions. But now the Chiefs are Super Bowl champions. (Sorry, had to.)
Now that we're through the February dead period, though, there are several questions to be answered as Ohio State is set for a big March with key visitors, and that will only get bigger in April as travel plans get arranged from all over the country from recruits who will converge on Columbus.
So in order to answer some of your questions, here is the return of the mailbag. Not quite as transformative as the Return of the Mack, but we digress. Onto your questions...
Plans for DL Numbers
This was a question for Eleven Warriors' Andrew Ellis that I'm stealing from his March Heat Check piece.
Ohio State is looking to bring in five defensive linemen, with a possibility of a sixth if he's the right guy, and the ideal plan would be to bring in two pure defensive ends, two pure defensive tackles and a guy who could do both.
Sawyer is a future star, so him already being in the class takes some weight off Larry Johnson's shoulders of having to bring in another pure pass rusher, but that's still a need in this class after grabbing only versatile guys in the 2020 class (Jacolbe Cowan, Darrion Henry-Young, Ty Hamilton).
Ohio State has 16 scholarship defensive linemen on the roster right now. Following the departures of Jonathon Cooper, Antwuan Jackson and Haskell Garrett, combined with the additions of Sawyer and Hall, there will be 15 scholarship guys.
With the guys the Buckeyes have targeted right now, a number of 17 should be expected on the 2021 roster, with 18 a strong possibility. That gives them room for five defensive linemen in this class, and the only way they bring in a sixth player, for a total of 19, is if it's a talent they just can't say no to (as mentioned above).
In the end, five is a reasonable number to expect, especially if they can land three of these four:
Pass rusher: Demeioun Robinson
As an aside, I think a super-underrated recruit in this class, in terms of a really interesting storyline at least, is Bergen Catholic (N.J.) defensive tackle Malone. He's hovering around top-50 status and is the nation's seventh-ranked DT. He's the highest-ranked junior in New Jersey, and he's a pure nose guard who wants to play football and baseball in college.
That's a pretty rare goal for a 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive lineman, but the first baseman has some power and juice in his bat.
Football is likely the sport where his future lies in, but his hopes of playing both is certainly as interesting a story as you're going to find on the recruiting trail if that goal continues and he stays serious about that pursuit.
Gut feeling on RB haul
When I wrote about West Bloomfield (Mich.) running back Donovan Edwards last week, it left plenty of readers excited about where Edwards' recruitment is headed and where Ohio State is right now with its momentum on that front. And there's good reason for that.
The Buckeyes are sitting in a good position with Edwards as of right now, especially after a productive visit on Thursday and Friday in which he saw up close how thin the program is at that position, and that means a possibility of early playing time and a big future impact that Edwards could make on the program.
Again, that's right now, and as we all know, recruiting is so fluid and ever-changing that things could change if Edwards does take visits to Big 12 teams (Stan Drayton and DeMarco Murray have each done a good job getting themselves in this race) or a Pac-12 program (Oregon, USC and even Arizona State have each caught Edwards' eye too) and loves what he sees.
We will find out more in a few weeks and over the next couple months as Edwards trims his list, but for right now, my gut feeling is telling me Edwards will end up in scarlet and gray, and I believe he will be joined by Evan Pryor.
I'm actually more confident about Edwards at this point, which is not something I would've said last week, but the momentum that North Carolina has right now is real – both with Pryor specifically and as a whole. They recently flipped the nation's No. 6-ranked quarterback, Drake Maye, from Alabama and landed the nation's No. 8-ranked strongside defensive end, Keeshawn Silver, to move into the No. 4 slot in the recruiting rankings.
Mack Brown has the program's recruiting humming, and if you want a closer look at how he's done it, I recommend this story from The Athletic's Ari Wasserman detailing Brown's strategy of keeping North Carolina high school players home:
“Last year was a really good class,” Brown said, “but I think this year (the 2021 class) is going to be a super class. That means that we primarily get the best players in the state.”
That means Pryor, the No. 4-ranked RB in North Carolina, is most likely either No. 1, 2 or 3 on the Tar Heels' board overall, and he's definitely No. 1 on their board at running back. As opposed to Ohio State, where he's definitely behind Edwards, and possibly TreVeyon Henderson, at running back.
I still believe Ohio State lands both Edwards and Pryor, who is planning on visiting in two weeks, which will be just as big of a visit for the Buckeyes as Edwards' visit. But North Carolina and Georgia still linger, and North Carolina looks to be the program that's the bigger threat to the Buckeyes here.
Never thought I would have said North Carolina is a bigger threat than Georgia, but it's a testament to Brown's success and his plan.
Just wanted to do another quick follow-ups on Edwards here. First of all, mid-year enrollee and early enrollee are the same thing, just phrased differently. Also, Edwards is planning on enrolling early in January at whatever school he picks. West Bloomfield offers early graduation, and Edwards will be taking that option. I should have made that more clear.
As for the second question, no. That is not what Michigan is doing. This is in reference to the following that I wrote in that Edwards story:
Though he wasn’t a factor as a freshman during the title game run, Edwards is the brightest star that Bellamy got in on early. As he was trying to build his football program, Bellamy had to recruit Edwards.
“Donovan was a little different because he wasn't just a good high school player. I saw greatness in him. I truly did,” Bellamy said. “It’s one of those things where if you don't take care of home, somebody else will. I had to formulate a relationship with him early. We got him in our youth football program, and I still felt like that wasn’t strong enough. … It’s one of those things where I had to put my arm around him a little bit and kind of make sure that we saw each other often.”
Bellamy took care of home. The Harbaughs are trying to do the same.
In that sense, Michigan equals West Bloomfield, the nearby school hoping to keep the wolves barking but not biting. Ohio State, Georgia, Alabama, LSU? They’re the powerhouse private schools hoping to be enticing enough to pry Edwards away.
That was a comparison I was making on my own because it works. Michigan wasn't trying to paint itself or Ohio State as anything. That was what I was inducing from what I heard.
Tatum a legit riser
Ohio State is not going to offer players who the program doesn't think are worthy of an offer. When Dillon Tatum, the sophomore running back/defensive back teammate of Edwards', announced his offer from the Buckeyes on Friday night, it came because he's a terrific young talent who the program needed to get in on early, just as it did with Edwards.
West Bloomfield has had plenty of talent in its hallways recently. Lance Dixon was a top-10 outside linebacker nationally before signing with Penn State, Makari Paige was a top-25 safety and top-250 overall player before signing with Michigan, and Edwards (No. 38 overall, No. 3 RB) is up there too.
Tatum is next up, so it's important for the Buckeyes to get in on him early, assuming he continues to grow and develop over the next year.
TreVeyon Henderson, the nation's No. 2-ranked running back in the 2021 class, plays in Class 3A at Hopewell (Va.) High School. That's right in the middle of the Virginia classifications, as the state runs from Class 1A-6A.
Henderson led Hopewell to a 15-0 season and a state championship, running roughshod in the title game with 224 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 20 carries while adding another touchdown reception in a 35-7 win. Henderson finished his junior season with 2,424 yards rushing and 45 touchdowns on 198 carries. That included breaking free for a 95-yard touchdown run and 13 games of 100-plus rushing yards. He finished with 12.2 yards per carry. Also added five touchdowns on 18 catches, becoming Hopewell's first-ever Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year.
Last week, Henderson showed his scoot by winning the Class 3A state championship in the 55-meter spring at the indoor track and field championships.
Henderson, who did not end up making a planned visit to Clemson over the weekend, is planning on making his first trip to Columbus for an unofficial visit to Ohio State's April 11 spring game. The Buckeyes hope to make a strong impression on Henderson as they continue to gain momentum with their top priority Donovan Edwards, who visited on Thursday and Friday and will now decide whether or not he will make a return trip, whether for the spring game, another spring practice or some time in May.