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.
Impact of summer camp cancellations
For his entire Ohio State career, especially if he goes on to have a successful stint as an impactful playmaker for the Buckeyes, the story of Jaylen Johnson in Columbus is always going to start with an anecdote from last June.
Johnson had been in contact frequently with the Ohio State coaches, especially Al Washington, but had yet to receive an offer. A one-day camp in June changed that, as Johnson flew around the field, showcasing the aggressiveness and physicality that made him one of Cincinnati La Salle's star defensive players.
That led to an offer from Washington and Co., and six months later he was the Buckeyes’ eighth commit in the 2021 class.
Or, consider Jager Burton's rise last summer. The Kentucky offensive guard had already been given an Ohio State offer the week before returning to Columbus for a summer camp to work in front of Ryan Day and Greg Studrawa. That day served as a mega turning point in his Ohio State recruitment.
“I don’t think I lost a single one-on-one rep when I was there,” Burton told Eleven Warriors previously. “That was probably the best camp I’d ever done. I think (Studrawa and Ryan Day) both kind of realized that I was legit and that they would really want me to go there.
“It was just a really good day for me, and I was really happy. I guess I picked the right day for it to happen on. At O-line and D-line, it’s hard to not lose a rep just because you can do everything right and still lose, sometimes, with no pads on. That was one of my favorite camps I went to.”
And when we think about C.J. Hicks, it's impossible to ignore the big performance he had on that same day as his good friend and future teammate Johnson, with the young Dayton star even being handpicked by Jeff Hafley to show the other campers how drills are supposed to be done.
When we try to hammer home the impact the camp circuit can have, those are the success stories we can point to time and again. Those same types of stories will not happen this summer.
As anticipated, Ohio State officially canceled all of its summer camps and clinics, the university's department of athletics announced via Twitter on Wednesday.
This won't affect many 2021 players hoping to be recruited by the Buckeyes. Those players have already been thoroughly evaluated, and at this point, Ohio State already has a very narrow list of top targets it has had pin-pointed for months now.
“I was really looking forward to being directly coached by Coach Hartline, and it’s real disappointing I won’t have that opportunity anymore.”– class of 2022 receiver darius clemons on the cancellation of ohio state's summer camps
The shutdown of camps will, however, have an impact on class of 2022 players who were hoping to put on a show in a similar vein as guys like Burton, Johnson and Hicks did last summer. And, conversely, the Buckeye staff had hoped to get an up-close look at these guys to determine who it really wanted to pursue or not.
One perfect example is Oregon receiver Darrius Clemons, who we have been discussing for quite some time in Hurry-Ups as one player for whom the camp circuit was going to be a major make-or-break opportunity. Clemons has long told us that Brian Hartline and Co. wanted to get him on campus for a camp before deciding if they wanted to pull the trigger on an offer.
Even though Clemons says that “we kind of had a feeling camp wasn’t going to happen,” it still left Clemons needing to find another way to earn an offer.
“I was really looking forward to being directly coached by Coach Hartline, and it’s real disappointing I won’t have that opportunity anymore,” Clemons told Eleven Warriors. “But I’m faithful in my ability and my relationship with the coaches there that I’ll still have the opportunity to be a Buckeye when it’s all said and done.”
As he said, Clemons will have to lean on his ability to continue building relationships with the Ohio State coaches from afar.
“I talk to Hartline and (assistant coach Keenan) Bailey about once a week,” Clemons said. “I feel like our relationship is only getting better, as well as my game, so only time can tell.”
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University has moved forward with the decision to cancel all summer camps. The safety of our community, staff members, and student-athletes are of the utmost importance and we fully support the decisions made to protect those around us. pic.twitter.com/5KBAANjYz0— Buckeye Sports Camps (@BuckeyeCamps) May 20, 2020
Clemons is just one example of how the camp circuit could have gone right and led to an offer this summer. Other key names who could have chased offers at camps include in-state running backs Stephan Byrd and Gi'Bran Payne and Westerville South receiver Kaden Saunders, all three of whom are ranked in the top seven in the state of Ohio's 2022 class but don't have yet have offers from the Buckeyes.
As for the Clemons situation specifically, in speaking with a source about that recruitment, the interest from Ohio State's side is mutual. The unofficial visit he made to Columbus for the Penn State game in November served as a positive step forward in his recruitment, and that led to frequent conversations between the Buckeye coaches and the young receiver.
According to that source, Clemons is one of the top receivers being heavily pursued by the Buckeyes – a list that includes the quartet of receivers who have been offered in C.J. Williams, Luther Burden, Armani Winfield and Caleb Burton, and Kaleb Brown is another name we introduced on Tuesday to keep in mind for the future.
Speaking of Brown, the four-star Chicago St. Rita receiver did indeed receive that offer from the Buckeyes about 24 hours after we touched on Ohio State's increased communication with him.
Im lost for words... Blessed and thankful to receive an offer from The University of Ohio State!! @brianhartline @ryandaytime @CoachKee @EDGYTIM @StRitaAthletics @AllenTrieu pic.twitter.com/hDK5elG1hn— (@ikaleb35) May 20, 2020
Brown is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound slot receiver who is also explosive out of the backfield as a running back, using his top-notch straight-line speed to put pressure on defenses. Brown is the top-ranked player in Illinois and ranked No. 35 overall and No. 5 at wide receiver in the class of 2022, per 247Sports.
Darrius Clemons photo: Zack Carpenter/Eleven Warriors