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.
Johnson sees Jones comparison in Bradley
Now that Ohio State's running back and defensive back recruiting situations are sitting in much better spots following last week's barrage, the Buckeyes can focus up even further on recruiting defensive lineman.
The crown jewel of the class, five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer, has been in the fold for more than a year, and Mike Hall has been committed for more than a month. There are several high-caliber targets who the Buckeyes have momentum for (more on that below), but one of Larry Johnson's top targets to bring in as a pure 3-technique defensive tackle alongside Hall is Marcus Bradley.
Bradley comes from the DMV area where Johnson is so familiar with, as he's the state of Maryland's ninth-ranked prospect out of Quince Orchard High School. Bradley flew very much under the radar for a long time until popping up in November, when he visited for two Ohio State games in a three-week span. Up to that point, Bradley did not even have a 247Sports Composite ranking. He didn't even have a picture up on his recruiting profile.
He's a bit of a late bloomer, but fast forward and he's rated as the No. 11 defensive tackle in the country, and he's a top-200 recruit – both numbers that are expected to rise as scouts become more familiar with him.
We caught up with Bradley over the weekend, and he told Eleven Warriors that he feels like he's being prioritized by Johnson and the Buckeyes. He speaks with Johnson every other day, and he says “the constant communication” is making an impact on him.
Johnson sees Bradley as another 3-tech guy who can rush the passer, and he compared Bradley to another guy who was a bit of a late bloomer in high school – former Buckeye defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones, who was only ranked No. 268 by 247Sports in mid-October of his senior year but shot up to the No. 71 slot by the time he graduated. That preceded a redshirt freshman season by Jones that he parlayed into a Freshman All-American honor the next year and first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior before becoming a third-round NFL Draft pick in 2019.
For Johnson to see some of the same qualities that made Jones a star in Bradley says quite a bit about Bradley's potential. And just like he did during Jones' recruitment and development, Johnson has been up front about everything with Bradley in terms of his evaluation of him as a player.
“Talking to Coach Johnson, he keeps it real at all times. I like that about him. It feels genuine,” Bradley said. “Talking to me, he always talks to me about my film and all that stuff. He talks to me different. It seems like it’s different from other coaches talking to me. He tells me all the things that he can do for me instead of just praising me. He doesn’t sugarcoat at all.”
The improvements Bradley needs to make is improving even more as a run stopper (though that's already his best ability) and taking on double teams more seamlessly. There's also room to sharpen up his pass-rushing skills, but Bradley's frame, strong first two steps off the ball, his upper-body strength and his pursuit are just a handful of the traits that Johnson feels he could work with at the next level.
That's why Bradley has become one of the top targets at defensive tackle, perhaps the top target at defensive tackle, and even though an early chance at seeing the field (most likely not until his second year in the program) will be there at Ohio State, that part would just be a small factor in whether or not Bradley chooses Columbus as his new home.
“I don’t think it really impacts my decision, but it’s good that they have the need for me in my position,” Bradley said. “I’m still gonna look at a few other schools and then pick what’s the best.”
Trimmed list coming
Of course, choosing that school has become much more difficult for a senior-to-be who has gotten on schools' radars a bit later than many of the other highly ranked players in his class. At least 12 of his 34 offers (and probably more) came in January or February, including Oregon, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Florida State that all came calling during that two-month span.
So this was going to be a crucial spring and summer for Bradley to get to as many campuses as he could in order to try and find the best fit for him. Instead, he is in a holding pattern as he awaits to see when he will be able to get back onto the recruiting trail just like every other player who has yet to make a college commitment.
“I had a lot of visits set up, but I can’t really go anywhere no more because of this. But I’m gonna try to get those rescheduled once this is all over,” Bradley said. “I wanted to (commit) before the season, but I still have a few more visits that I wanna take. I wanna go to Tennessee and then Texas A&M. If I can get all my visits in, I might still commit before the season, but it all depends.”
In the meantime, Bradley told us he was planning on releasing a narrowed list sometime soon, and soon after our interview, he announced via Twitter that a top-five list was coming in the near future.
You can expect Ohio State, LSU and Duke to all be on that list, as Bradley told us those are the three programs that he's liking the most right now. It's not a final three list, but they each have momentum right now.
Ohio State: “Ohio State speaks for itself with everything they’re able to do every single year with the consistency with defensive linemen. It’s crazy.”
LSU: “I always liked LSU growing up, and I’ve been watching them for a while. A lot of great players came through there, and I think they produce some good NFL players. Coach (Ed Orgeron), what he’s been able to do since he got there has been good. It’s been a good turnaround from Les Miles and what he was doing. They had a couple down years and weren’t as good as what they usually were. With the coaching changes, they just won a national championship so it’s been great over there.
“I talk to Coach O almost every day. He's a high-energy guy. He’s a defensive line guy, too, I love that. I gotta get around him. He came to my school during the recruiting period in January, but I’ve gotta get down there to get a better feel for him and the program. Once I get down to LSU and get around him more, I can get a better feel for him.”
Duke: “That was my first Power 5 offer. It’s always great love when I go down there. I know I’m very high on their recruiting board, too. It’s different. It’s something different. ... Whenever I do say Duke, people are confused because they’re not really known for football. But I think Coach (Ben Albert), the defensive line coach, is really good. And it may be something different to pick.”
Bradley impressed with Hall
As we mentioned, a Mike Hall-Marcus Bradley combo would be a really good one for Johnson to work with as the Buckeyes' 3-tech guys in Columbus. Johnson has mentioned to Bradley how well the two would work together, but Bradley's already known about Hall's skillset for months now.
“I actually knew about Mike Hall during the summer,” Bradley said. “I was at a West Virginia camp, and he was there, actually. That’s what I remember him from. Very high motor. Great size. He’s gonna be a player, for sure.”
That camp came a long time before Hall even had an Ohio State offer and long before he shot up the rankings to become a top-10 defensive tackle nationally and a top-100 recruit. Bradley wasn't surprised to see any of that happen.
“You could just tell. Every rep, he was lining up in all techniques, and he was going hard every play,” Bradley said. “That’s where it starts – coming out hard and having a motor. I could easily see – everything that’s happened since, I could easily see all that.”
Sermon's decision won't affect recruiting
For those wondering if and how the transfer of Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon to Ohio State will affect the Buckeyes’ 2021 running back recruiting … it won’t.
Just like Jonah Jackson last season, Sermon is the perfect transfer to come into the program. He’s a graduate transfer who will spend just one season in Columbus, and since he’ll be gone before any of the 2021 running backs ever step foot in the Woody as an official Buckeye, his decision to join Ohio State will not affect the program’s future at the position.
Sermon’s transfer does, however, mean that Tony Alford can add another notch on his proverbial belt, as the Buckeyes’ running backs coach continues building momentum with the decisions of Sermon and Evan Pryor to join the program. Alford built up a good relationship with Sermon on the trail during his initial recruitment, and that’s now gone on to pay dividends three years later.
The Buckeyes' scholarship situation, though, will need to be addressed as they now sit at 87 scholarship players, two over the limit.