The Hurry-Up: Emeka Egbuka Includes Ohio State in Final Four, New Offers Arise for Jyaire Brown As Buckeyes Will Still Have to Close

By Zack Carpenter on May 15, 2020 at 6:01 pm
Emeka Egbuka

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.

Egbuka drops final four

After not hearing a ton of updates straight from five-star prospect Emeka Egbuka ever since the Steilacoom (Wash.) High School star dropped a top-10 list in the fall, the nation’s No. 1-ranked receiver officially gave a public recruiting update on Friday night. 

Egbuka released a final-four list, consisting of Ohio State, Washington, Clemson and Oklahoma as the last programs under consideration in his recruitment. 

It’s not at all a surprise to see those four programs on his list. Ohio State has done probably the best job of creating early, sustainable relationships with him via Brian Hartline and Ryan Day each making in-person visits to him during his sophomore year. That early relationship getting built was one of the driving forces in the Buckeyes firmly getting their foot in the door. And the other three programs have made solid inroads with Egbuka over the last year. 

What is surprising, however, is that Stanford has been dropped from his list of contenders. Other than the Buckeyes being on the list themselves, of course, that is the most noteworthy takeaway from the list being dropped – since we were very confident the other three would be on that list. 

Academics are of extremely vital importance for both Egbuka – a near 4.0 GPA student at Steilacoom – and his parents, who both hold Master's degrees. Stanford looked to be a rising contender in Egbuka’s recruitment, but it seems as if the Cardinal will now have to bow out of the race. 

Going forward, from an Ohio State perspective, getting Egbuka and his father on campus is of utmost importance. I don’t believe a commitment is around the corner, despite the heavy amount of Crystal Ball predictions for Egbuka to join the Buckeyes, until he gets back on campus for the first time since October, when Egbuka made the visit to Columbus with his mother. 

As for the academic recruiting pitch, Ohio State might be approaching Egbuka’s recruitment in a similar vein as it did with Tunmise Adeleye

In April, Adeleye told Eleven Warriors the following: “Emeka’s half-Nigerian. I know Emeka, just the Nigerian connection we have, once my dad starts talking with his dad, it’s gonna be set. … Nigerians are very academic-oriented people. His dad, I already know how his dad’s looking at the recruiting process. It’s the same way my dad was. He wants to know that I’m gonna be set up in the best possible situation academically. Whatever I wanna study, I can study. Whatever I wanna achieve, I can achieve. 

“He wanted to know that there’s an alumni base that can back me once I’m out of college. Ohio State checks all those boxes. He knew that what they can bring to me and off the field was elite. So he was all in on the decision. So I know that once he sits down with Emeka’s dad and really talks with him and they form that kind of friendship, I know it’s a done deal.”

As we’ve said plenty of times in the past, one of Ohio State’s biggest recruiting tools is peer-to-peer recruiting. Perhaps, in this case, parent-to-parent recruiting could be a factor. Adeleye seems to feel pretty confident that could be the case.

“He’s already been to Ohio State once. He likes it,” Adeleye said. “But it’s really gonna be up to how his dad feels about it. I’m gonna let it play out and see where he wants to take things. It’s not my recruitment. It’s his recruitment. He’s entitled to do whatever he wants. I just know that once my dad sits down with his dad, if they get the opportunity, it’s a done deal.”

New offers for 2022 commit

Let me preface the following with this: It’s not a unique circumstance for a committed player to tweet out offers, so that’s not really a big deal. C.J. Hicks tweeted out a Tennessee offer just minutes before he committed, for instance, and he just made public an offer from Oregon on Thursday. And Mike Hall still tweeted offers after he had pledged to the Buckeyes, and there’s about a 1 percent chance, probably lower, that either of them decommits from Ohio State.

The case of Jyaire Brown provides a tad more hesitancy, though. 

The Louisiana cornerback being committed to the Buckeyes is not going to scare off other teams from making a hard push for him over the next two years before the 2022 cycle’s National Signing Day. You can expect LSU to make the hardest push of probably any program with an offer down the road, but as evidenced by Brown’s two new offers this week – from Penn State and TCU – other schools won’t be shy about making their pitches to him. We expect his offer sheet could rise from 21 to at least 30 by the time his junior season concludes.

When Brown committed so early to Ohio State’s 2022 class, it jump-started a surge of momentum for the Buckeyes that carried over from the junior cycle to the sophomore cycle, which helped lead to a pair of in-state commitments (Tegra Tshabola and Hicks). Those two Ohioans would both register as a “one” on a scale of 1-10 in terms of concerns about a decommitment down the road (with 10 being the most worried, of course). 

Because of circumstance, I would put Brown at a higher number than one. I’m not saying that there should be major concern, but I would put the number at about a neutral three or a four – just because any time a national player makes a commitment that early without ever having visited, it should at least draw some hesitancy (even if this is a unique circumstance with Brown originally being from Ohio and having so many family members living in the state). 

To be very clear, I am absolutely not reporting that Brown is on the verge of a decommitment now or that he will be in the near future. But when Mark Pantoni said that one of the staff’s top tasks is to recruit committed players as if they are uncommitted, I believe this is the prime example of why those coaches make that such a priority.

Brown’s case is a good example of why Ohio State’s coaching staff is probably not virtually high-fiving each other too hard simply because they have a verbal from Brown. In the end, I don’t think Brown will decommit because of what I said earlier – the strong local and family connections in the state and the fact that he’s at least visited the state a few times, even if he hasn’t visited Ohio State yet. That plus Kerry Coombs’ cornerback development reputation. 

But this is nonetheless going to be a challenge for the Ohio State staff to make sure Brown keeps his commitment until he signs. I would say the Buckeyes have a five-run lead in the sixth inning. In other words, they’ve got a major upper hand, but there is still a lot of time left to close it out.

Emeka Egbuka photo courtesy of Brandon Huffman/247Sports

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