The Hurry-Up: Breaking Down Tony Grimes’ Final Four, Jayden Ballard Becomes Buckeyes’ Eighth 2021 Commit In All-American Bowl

By Zack Carpenter on June 1, 2020 at 4:38 pm
Tony Grimes

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.

Buckeyes make Grimes’ final four

Earlier this month, the nation's No. 1-ranked cornerback in the 2021 class, five-star Princess Anne (Va.) High School's Tony Grimes, announced that he was set to release a list of his top three schools on May 31 – almost exactly six months before his planned Dec. 1 commitment date.

As it turns out, that became a final four list, and Ohio State remains in the thick of the race for the top-10 overall talent. Grimes put the Buckeyes up against Georgia, North Carolina and Texas A&M as the four programs left in his recruitment. Clemson, Penn State, Virginia and Tennessee were the other programs on his previous top eight list.

Back on May 12, I predicted the list of three schools to be Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio State, with Clemson and Penn State on the cusp. So it's surprising, to me, to see Texas A&M on the final list based on some information I had been told previously. But Jimbo Fisher and new defensive backs coach TJ Rushing – hired in January – made up plenty of ground to crack the list after Maurice Linguist (the Aggies' former defensive backs coach who had built a relationship with Grimes better than perhaps any other coach) left for the Dallas Cowboys in January. 

As it stands today, all four programs have been doing a great job of putting in work to recruit Grimes and build relationships with Grimes and his family. 

Shortly after Grimes announced his final list, his father, Deon Glover, took some time to break down the four programs with Eleven Warriors following a workout as Grimes prepares for his upcoming senior season at Princess Anne:

Texas A&M: “Texas A&M has been recruiting Tony since he was in ninth grade. They have always been stable in their approach to landing him. Staying consistent. Great weight program. Jimbo Fisher's doing great things with the program, and he's put together a great secondary from the 2020 class. He's got some great receivers. He runs a pro-style system. Just thinking about development and preparation and stuff like that, they do a really good job.”

Georgia: “Same thing with Georgia. They're late on the scene but great coaching staff. Great head coach. Great programs. Winning tradition. I feel like they're kind of in the same boat Ohio State is in. We've only been able to visit Georgia and Ohio State once (each). The other programs we've gotten to more than once. But that speaks volumes to the staff of Georgia and Ohio State.”

Ohio State: “(Kerry) Coombs came on and made a great impression. Ryan Day's a great coach, an elite coach. The Buckeyes always do great things with DBs. That's nothing to be overlooked. They run a great system.”

North Carolina: “Great coaching staff with Mack Brown and (cornerbacks coach) Dre Bly. Great business program. Those are some of the things that Tony's looked at to consider. Development first and relationships.”

Relationships are always the No. 1 factor in a recruitment. Plain and simple. That is no different in the recruitment of Grimes as we head into June and his focus shifts to these four programs. 

“How you relate to the coaches that are gonna be coaching him and gonna be spending all his time with (is huge),” Glover said. “How well do we relate? Everything can't be football, football, football. Granted, we know that's what we want a school for, but if I can't have a relationship with you – if you can't tell when something's off with me as a person, as an individual – then it's gonna be hard for me to respond with you in certain situations.”

We will have more on Grimes’ recruitment and from Glover later this week.

Ballard accepts All-American invite

I’m not sure what Ohio State’s all-time record is for how many future players the program has had on one single roster throughout the 20-year history of the All-American Bowl. But in the 2020 game, the Buckeyes had more players than any other college program in the game with nine signees lining the San Antonio field.

Once again, in 2021, the 21st annual version of the game will have a major Ohio State vibe, and it’s continuing to look like there will be even more future Buckeyes in the upcoming game than the one played this past January.

Massillon Washington (Ohio) receiver star Jayden Ballard announced on Saturday that he has accepted an invitation to the All-American game, becoming the seventh player in the Buckeyes’ 2021 class to commit to playing in the bowl. Ballard is the fourth Massillon Washington player to accept an invitation to the All-American Bowl, joining Shawn Crable (2003), J.T. Turner (2008) and Gareon Conley (2013). 

“I am so proud of Jayden and his selection in the A-A Bowl,” Massillon Washington head coach Nate Moore told Eleven Warriors. “But even more proud of the leadership he’s showing this offseason and work he’s put in to develop his body. He’s going to level up his senior year. This kid is hungry. Get those stars ready.”

Ballard joins quarterback Kyle McCord, running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor and offensive guard Donovan Jackson as offensive players. Cornerback Jakailin Johnson and linebacker Reid Carrico will line the defense.

  • On the West roster: Jackson, Johnson
  • On the East roster: Ballard, Carrico, Henderson, McCord, Pryor

Other commits ranked in the top 110 who could get an invite to the game down the road include Mike Hall, Tunmise Adeleye, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Ben Christman. Also, Buckeye targets Raesjon Davis (an LSU commit), Emeka Egbuka and J.T. Tuimoloau have accepted invitations to the bowl. 

Another 2021 Ohio State commit, defensive end Jack Sawyer, is listed on the current roster for the All-American Bowl. However, Sawyer has told Eleven Warriors that he has not yet accepted the invitation as he is still deciding whether to play in the All-American Bowl or the Under Armour All-America Game.

Tony Grimes photo courtesy of Don Callahan/247Sports

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