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.
Early gets offer
Ohio State added to its list of offers for the 2022 class as quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis dished out an offer to Duncanville (Texas) High School offensive lineman Jaylen Early, which follows Saturday's offer to top-ranked sophomore Shemar Stewart.
Early, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound sophomore, is the No. 20-ranked offensive tackle in the 2022 class, and he is ranked No. 224 overall and No. 27 in Texas. Those rankings were created by 247Sports scouts and analysts, as sophomores do not yet have a composite ranking yet.
Ohio State is Early's ninth total offer, as his recruitment has begun to pick up steam. He received his first Division I offer from Colorado in late January, and from March 27-April 5, he added Oklahoma, Arizona State, Houston, Virginia, SMU, Texas A&M, Washington State and now Ohio State to his sheet.
“The last two weeks have been amazing. Didn't see any of this coming,” Early said.
On Saturday, we talked about how the suspensions of in-person recruiting and visits has allowed Ohio State to get a head start in evaluating film of players in the 2022 class, as the coaches are able to carve out more time. Early's recent run of offers, he believes, has been a byproduct of that.
“I think so,” Early told Eleven Warriors when asked if his offer sheet has increased due to coaches finally getting around to seeing his film. “The coronavirus changed all of their plans. They have more time to check Hudl and look for recruits.”
Mark Pantoni and the Buckeyes' coaching staff have been praised for their ability to identify targets early in the process who continue to develop as projected. That's helped them establish longstanding bonds with recruits, and that's been one of the main reasons they've been so successful at the most critical aspect of recruiting – creating relationships.
Don't be surprised if the month of April leads to more offers in the 2022 class, beginning with Stewart and Early, as more relationships are being cultivated.
“Today was my first time speaking with Coach Dennis,” said Early, who has not yet spoken with Ryan Day. “Looking to speaking with Coach (Greg Studrawa) real soon. I've also talked to (assistant offensive line coach Kennedy Cook). I liked talking to Coach Cook. He was really cool.
“Coach Dennis said he needs good offensive linemen like me to help protect the quarterback and that he would be calling twice a week to talk about pass protection. Coach Cook said I was very talented and he would be talking to me more to help build our relationship.”
UNC climbs rankings
As our own Mick Walker touched on in his latest Counter Intel piece on Sunday, North Carolina has overtaken Florida for the No. 3-ranked recruiting class in 2021 following the commitment of four-star running back Kamarro Edmonds over the weekend.
The Tar Heels already have more four-star commitments in the 2021 class (10) than they had in 2020 (nine), 2019 (five) and 2018 (seven).
Here's where Ohio State plays into this: As Mack Brown continues growing his program and leading the resurgence down in Chapel Hill, there will continue to be players he and his staff are prioritizing that they will have to fight off the Buckeyes in order to land.
This is not going to turn into an Ohio State-Clemson rivalry on the recruiting trail between these two, but it is an interesting and real development between the Buckeyes and Tar Heels.
Three years in a row, Ohio State has pulled a North Carolina player out of the state by nabbing defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie in 2019, defensive end Jacolbe Cowan in 2020 and running back Evan Pryor in 2021.
Next up for the two to duke it out for? Four-star defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie out of Kernersville, N.C., who very well may end up joining Ohio State's defensive line haul in 2021.
Ritzie recently told 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong that Ohio State, North Carolina, LSU, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Duke were all among the top programs he was looking at, with Ohio State one of the programs he was really wanting to make a visit to in addition to LSU and Kentucky.
Ritzie told Wiltfong of North Carolina:
"The relationship with everyone," Ritzie said of what stands out regarding the Tar Heels. "I’m not really concerned about the 'stay at home thing' but I just really have great relationships with them.
And of Ohio State:
"Ohio State I love them as well!" Ritzie stated. "I really do just like I love South Carolina, UNC, Georgia, and Tennessee! They all treat me well, have a great relationship with my family and are very truthful with everything.”
In addition to Ritzie, another pair of North Carolina players to keep an eye on moving forward are offensive guard Jared Wilson (2021), who the Buckeyes offered two weeks ago and who talk to him every day, and defensive tackle Travis Shaw (2022), a top-30 overall sophomore recruit and the No. 3-ranked interior defensive lineman in his class.
Wilson is ranked No. 22 in North Carolina's junior class, and Shaw is ranked No. 1 in the state's sophomore class.
Latham, Ritzie spotlight
Ritzie was also highlighted by 247Sports' Director of Scouting Barton Simmons on Monday in a piece detailing a handful of players in the 2021 class who are on the rise:
The more we dug on the Ritzie film, the more we liked it. One reason for that is getting some verification on his body type and long. He’s an athletic, thick-bodied lineman with great length and great natural strength.
In what Simmons labels “a loaded year in North Carolina,” Ritzie is one of the best talents in the state, and his current spot as the state's 12th-best junior prospect will soon improve.
Another player spotlighted by Simmons is Ohio State priority offensive tackle target JC Latham from the IMG (Fla.) Academy:
As college programs stated to really dig into the class of 2021 in January, word began to circulate that Latham was in a class by himself at offensive tackle. Since then, we’ve had an opportunity to see him compete in two different settings where he has validated his size and athleticism in an emphatic way. The more you dig into his film through the lens of those physical gifts, the more evident it becomes that Latham is more than just a top lineman. He may be the top lineman in this 2021 cycle.
During the summer of 2019, Latham was ranked in the 100s overall on his composite rankings and in the 70s by the Top247 metric. That was before he had even played a full season on the offensive line.
Originally a defensive line prospect, Latham switched to offensive tackle full-time when he transferred to IMG last January, and he's rather quickly become one of the nation's elite at the position.
In addition to Donovan Jackson, the nation's No. 1-ranked offensive guard, Latham is another we have believed for a while would end up getting a ratings bump into the five-star composite range. Jackson is already a five-star via 247Sports' scouts, and his composite ranking seems primed to move into that territory as well.
If Latham winds up choosing Ohio State over LSU – which is what we, and basically every other recruiting analyst in the country, believe will happen – the Buckeyes could end up with a pair of five-star offensive linemen in the 2021 class, possibly to pair them both on the left side of the line.