The Hurry-Up: Larry Johnson Extends Offers to Maryland, Georgia and Florida Stars, Michigan Gaining Momentum But Talent Gap Remains Large

By Zack Carpenter on May 29, 2020 at 6:50 pm
Derrick Moore

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.

Ohio State offers Maryland, Georgia, Florida standouts

Ohio State has an inside-out approach in recruiting, targeting in-state talent to bring into the class first to establish momentum, and then it branches out nationally. That’s been on display in the 2022 cycle with two Ohioans coming into the class (Tegra Tshabola, C.J. Hicks) and another (Jyaire Brown) who is a native of the state as well.

Larry Johnson has a similar approach when it comes to recruiting his defensive linemen. The longtime defensive line coach told Eleven Warriors in December that he zeroes in on the DMV area for targets – using his incredibly strong roots in the area that dates back to his time as a Maryland and Virginia high school coach in the 70s, 80s and 90s – and then spreads out. 

“I go DMV area and then I go national for any linemen,” Johnson said. “But it’s not just the DMV (that has talent). It’s across the country, I’m looking for the same thing. I’m a raw coach so sometimes I’ll see a guy that most people don’t see. They won’t see the small things in a player because you’re not there. You’re just watching videotape.

“I’m watching all the interchangeable things and intangible things that can make him a great player. So he may be a three-star in a lot of people’s eyes, but he’s really not because at the end of the day, he has a chance to grow and really be special. I look for that. I’m a really detailed guy and make sure those guys handle that. And I’m not afraid to take a shot at a guy. Because it’s my job to handle and develop that guy.”

In the 2022 cycle, Johnson showed us once again that he is back at it with the targeting of the DMV area and branching out, and that insight into who Johnson looks for on the recruiting trail can help us determine how he views the two latest prospects he has offered.

First, on Wednesday, Johnson extended an offer to four-star Baltimore native Derrick Moore, a 6-foot-4, 245-pounder from Maryland powerhouse program St. France Academy. Moore, a top-50 overall player, the No. 5-ranked strongside defensive end and No. 3-ranked junior-to-be in the state of Maryland, also has offers from Florida, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee and USC.

Moore was evaluated all the way back in the fall of 2018 following his freshman season, as 247Sports analyst Brian Dohn compared Moore to Vikings star Danielle Hunter:

“Long, lean frame with wide shoulders. Elite athlete with great explosion,” Dohn wrote. “Speed off edge is extremely disruptive. Has speed for backside pursuit. Uses hands well to keep offensive lineman from engaging on pass rush. Energy and effort level high. Changes direction well. Plays with suddenness. Good tackler in space.”

Then, on Thursday, Johnson extended an offer to Georgia star Mykel Williams, a 6-foot-5, 260-pounder from Hardaway High School in Columbus, Ga. 

Williams is a top-80 overall player who is ranked No. 8 at strongside defensive end and No. 9 in the state of Georgia, and he holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Williams told Eleven Warriors that those four programs and Clemson – which has not yet offered but has talked about offering him this summer or during his junior year – are the others recruiting him the hardest right now and building good relationships with him.

Williams also confirmed that Johnson and the Buckeyes will be gunning for at least 3-4 defensive linemen in this class, and Johnson told Williams “I am one of the top DE they want out of (2022).

“They like my motor and my relentlessness,” says Williams, who is not yet pegged down as a pure edge player or a defensive tackle just yet in the Buckeyes’ minds, as he said their projection of him positionally “depends on how my body grows.”

Williams’ offer is a product of a relationship built through Johnson, who got ahold of Williams’ Hardaway coach, Michael Woolridge, and that eventually led to Thursday’s official offer.

“It went great,” Williams said of the conversation between him, Johnson and Ryan Day this week. “I (found out) that they were really interested in me and want me there. I have been building with them for about a month. It’s a huge deal (to be offered). That’s a really great program.”

With the offers out to Moore and Williams, the Buckeyes have now offered 11 defensive linemen (four strongside defensive ends, three weakside defensive ends and four defensive tackles) as I believe they likely will look to land two defensive tackles and two defensive ends in the 2022 cycle.

And on Friday, Johnson and the Buckeyes offered their third defensive lineman of the week with an offer to Florida junior-to-be Kenyatta Jackson Jr.

Jackson is ranked No. 79 overall, No. 7 at weakside defensive end and No. 8 in the state of Florida. Jackson's offers include Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon and Penn State.

The 6-foot-4.5, 230-pounder from Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Fla.) is an athlete the Ohio State staff is already pretty excited about. Don't be surprised to hear his name a bit more as we progress in the recruiting process. 

Michigan heating up but talent gap remains

To put it frankly, Michigan is not Ohio State’s biggest recruiting rival. Clemson is. It’s become more and more evident that if the Buckeyes truly want a player, in an overwhelming majority of cases, they are going to get him over the Wolverines, and Michigan will have to settle for other targets. 

That was the case with Ohio State taking Kyle McCord over J.J. McCarthy, TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor being taken over Donovan Edwards (though that recruitment likely had to do more with Edwards not being ready to make a decision while Henderson and Pryor were ready to make a decision), several other targets being higher priorities than Greg Crippen, and Sam Hart/Hudson Wolfe being higher priorities than Louis Hansen.

With all of that being said, Michigan is still starting to put together a really good class for Michigan’s standards, currently ranked No. 5 in the nation after landing three commitments last week. With that being said, there is still a massive gap between Michigan and Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a per-player average with 19 commitments (95.34) that is on track to being the best-ever and is one that currently leaves the Wolverines’ per-player average with 16 commitments (89.10) in the dust.

But with that being said, Michigan could be making some major moves here as we head into the summer. Right now, the Wolverines sit in great positions with Michigan offensive linemen Rocco Spindler (top-50 overall player) and Garrett Dellinger (top-80 player) and Arizona defensive end Quintin Somerville (borderline top-150 player) – a teammate of recent Buckeye commit Denzel Burke’s at powerhouse Saguaro High School who put Michigan up against Vanderbilt, Florida State and Washington in his top four as a June 20 commitment date nears.

Michigan also has a chance with St. Thomas Aquinas star and top-50 player Dallas Turner, in addition to the No. 2-ranked tight end in the country, Thomas Fidone, and there is continued smoke centered around Edwards being a Michigan lean.

We will, of course, be revisiting this conversation in the future to see where Michigan stands and if it is able to capitalize on its momentum. Right now, the program is far behind Ohio State in recruiting with a lot of ground to make up.

Those six players (Spindler, Turner, Dellinger, Fidone, Somerville, Edwards) would rank in the top nine of Michigan's highest-rated players in the class – including three of the top four with Edwards, Spindler and Turner – but even landing commitments from all six would still put the Wolverines in the trailing position in Ohio State's class by a score of 301.39 points to 282.42 points and in the per-player average by a score of 95.34 to 91.13.

That doesn’t take away from the fact it is starting to show some life with said momentum, but it still has a very long way to go to once again become any sort of real recruiting rival for the Buckeyes. 

Derrick Moore photo courtesy of Brian Dohn/247Sports

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