The Hurry-Up: Najee Story and Aaron Armitage On Outside Looking In, But Both Defensive Ends Are Not Out of the Picture Completely

By Zack Carpenter on April 29, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Aaron Armitage

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.

Story not out quite yet...

When we made our latest class of 2021 prediction at the end of last month, we included Solon High School defensive end Najee Story in that projection with the belief that Tunmise Adeleye would choose Alabama, Oklahoma or Florida and that J.T. Tuimoloau and Marcus Bradley would join the Buckeyes’ fold eventually.

Adeleye, of course, chose to commit to the Buckeyes in April, presumably pushing Story out of the picture. But I am still not comfortable eliminating the four-star in-state prospect entirely. 

Ohio State is gunning for five defensive linemen in the 2021 class, but bringing in six is not out of the question. A five-man group of Jack Sawyer, Adeleye, Tuimoloau, Mike Hall and Bradley (or Tywone Malone instead of Bradley) gives the Buckeyes plenty of high-end talent with the ability to bring in a developmental in-state guy like Story.

I mentioned this on Monday when talking about the Buckeyes’ tight ends: If they end up only taking one tight end in the class, it opens up another spot for a defensive back, offensive lineman or defensive lineman for them to take.

As a developmental in-state prospect who would be expected to stay all four or five years in the program – prospects instrumental for schools like Ohio State, which brings in five-stars and high-caliber four-stars by the boatload, to create depth and balance – Story would be a good player to bring in very late down the road if there is a spot still open.

There is still a lot that can happen here – mainly Story showing Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes that the work he is putting in this offseason is going to pay off with a strong senior season in which he also shows he is fully healthy (he suffered two broken bones in his leg as a sophomore and has still not been 100 percent since then). 

So … there is still potential for Story to wind up in this class. Johnson and Co. are continuing to recruit Story despite Adeleye committing two weeks ago, and he is still a possibility to join late in the class, possibly late in the fall. 

Story, ranked No. 282 overall, No. 19 at strongside defensive end and No. 9 in Ohio, dropped a top five list last week, which includes Ohio State, in addition to Northwestern, Penn State, Minnesota and Tennessee. Perhaps he decides to be the latest commit in the growing surge of momentum for either Minnesota or Tennessee. In regards to Ohio State, though, before he becomes a player under consideration to be a take in its class, Story will have to continue improving.

...neither is Armitage

Story is not the only defensive end target who is on the outside looking in but who could also join very late in the process.

Just like Story, Blairstown Academy (N.J.) defensive end Aaron Armitage recently released a top-five list. Armitage, ranked No. 205 overall, No. 16 at SDE and No. 2 in New Jersey, left the Buckeyes off a list that features Florida, Oregon, USC, Stanford and LSU. 

From people close to Armitage’s recruitment, though, we’re told that Ohio State remains high on the list for Armitage, and the program will remain there until the end of the recruiting process. Ohio State’s 2021 defensive line class filling up so quickly is a prime reason Armitage left the Buckeyes off his list. 

As for the Ohio State side of things, communication has been sparse of late between Day-Johnson-Greg Mattison and Armitage, indicating that the New Jersey defensive end is not one of the staff’s key targets. 

Communication is not completely cut off, however. So, just like Story, I wouldn’t say Armitage is completely out of the picture quite yet, but he is on the outside right now and would not be an acceptable commitment until late in the fall.

Decommitments is another possible factor in the recruitments of Story and Armitage. We don’t expect or project any decommitments in this Buckeye class, especially along the defensive line. But we are in a weird, unprecedented time, and it’s very possible we could end up seeing more decommitments across the country than we typically do because of players being unable to visit campuses.

Any decommitments from Ohio State could open things back up for players like Story and Armitage. 

Not sure on the commitment timeline for Story, but we are told that Armitage is likely to commit by the end of the summer but that if official visits are allowed in the summer or fall, there could be a delay in his decision.

Green offer could be coming

As a final note tonight, we wanted to touch on another player worth keeping an eye on for down the road.

The nation’s No. 1-ranked tight end and No. 112 player in the 2022 class, per 247Sports, Dickinson (Texas) High School four-star prospect Donovan Green has not yet been offered by the Ohio State staff. But we will be far from surprised if it happens sometime soon. 

Green, an athletic standout basketball player for Dickinson, is in consistent communication with the Buckeye coaches, who “have just been telling me how much they like my film and explaining to me how I would be treated great at the school,” Green told Eleven Warriors.

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound tight end has 30 offers thus far, including from Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State and Texas.

“Most coaches talk about liking my route running and hands, also the fact that I don't mind blocking," Green told us in February. “If (the Buckeyes) recruit me, how much they get the ball to the tight end will be top on my list of questions.”

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