The Hurry-Up: Buckeyes Remain in Great Shape As Troy Stellato Comes Off the Board, Ohio State and Clemson Now Ranked No. 1 and 2

By Zack Carpenter on June 5, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Troy Stellato

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.

Stellato comes off the board

It didn’t come as much of a surprise, based off everything we had been hearing over the past two months and on Thursday, but it became official on Friday. 

Troy Stellato committed to Clemson, taking one of Ohio State’s priority targets at receiver in the 2021 class off of the board and pushing the Tigers into the No. 2 slot in the national recruiting rankings. The 14-man haul at Clemson (262.24 points) trails only Ohio State’s 19-man group (301.39) after surpassing Tennessee’s 23 commits (259.13).

“Clemson produces great receivers, and so does Ohio State. I felt like I couldn’t go wrong with either one,” Stellato told Sports Illustrated’s John Garcia Jr. during his commitment announcement.

Ohio State has the No. 1-ranked class in the nation and Clemson now has the No. 2-ranked class, both in total points and average player rating.

  • Ohio State: 301.39 points, 95.34 average player rating
  • Clemson: 262.24 points, 94.54 average player rating

As you can read about below, the Buckeyes are still in fantastic shape at receiver, both in the 2021 class and in the future at the position. 

More on Stellato recruitment

Stellato, the standout from Ft. Lauderdale’s Cardinal Gibbons (Fla.) High School, is the No. 125-ranked overall player and No. 22-ranked receiver in the 2021 class. Stellato was a lesser-known prospect heading into his junior season, but when the Buckeyes offered him on Sept. 16, it set off a domino effect that turned him into one of the hottest recruits in the country for a two-week stretch as the offers began to roll in. 

More than 20 schools came calling in that span, and Stellato told Eleven Warriors it was “very wild” and “it was a lot to take in.” Those offers continued flying in during the months of December and January, as he soared up the rankings from being rated No. 85 at WR in November and from being ranked No. 413 overall prior to his Ohio State offer and No. 344 by mid-December.

The Buckeyes appeared to have the inside track for a while here, backed by Stellato's strong relationships with Brian Hartline, who was one of the first Power 5 coaches to visit Stellato all the way back during his sophomore year, and Keenan Bailey – a Buckeyes assistant quarterbacks coach who worked last year as a receivers assistant – being a Cardinal Gibbons graduate.

One of the factors going into the Buckeyes’ loss here is the depth of talent already in the receiver room and the fact that they will be adding to it soon. With the heralded quartet of top-100 receivers signed and enrolled in the 2020 class (Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr. and Mookie Cooper), plus the two top-70 receivers in the 2021 class (Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jayden Ballard) who could be joined by a top-10 receiver (see below), the depth chart at Clemson was decidedly a bit more intriguing. 

The Tigers only signed two receivers in 2020 (No. 68-ranked E.J. Williams and No. 398-ranked Ajou Ajou) and only have two receivers committed in 2021 (No. 48-ranked Beaux Collins and No. 165-ranked Dacari Collins), so there looks to be less traffic there on the path to playing time, which I’m told played an important factor in his recruitment.

Stellato’s recruitment began to turn a bit with an unofficial visit to Clemson in mid-November – after the Tigers offered on Oct. 5, the same day he visited Columbus for the Michigan State game – and the Tigers were able to put this away behind added strength of a second unofficial visit on the weekend of March 6. That turned out to be the final visit for Stellato anywhere, as the coronavirus-induced dead period was implemented the following week, the same week he put Ohio State and Clemson as his official final two.

Interestingly enough, that big March 6 weekend at Clemson featured four prominent players being targeted by both the Buckeyes and Tigers, and another (TreVeyon Henderson) who was supposed to visit but elected not to. From that weekend, Barrett Carter, Jordan Hancock and Stellato have now each committed to Clemson, while Jakailin Johnson eschewed Clemson for the Buckeyes a little more than a week after that visit.

More battles to come?

If we’re looking at the current scoreboard for the 2021 class, Clemson now leads Ohio State by a 4-3 margin in regards to committed targets both programs were heavily pursuing right up until their commitment day.

  • Clemson: Carter, Hancock, Stellato, Collins (average player rating: 96.51)
  • Ohio State: Henderson, Johnson, Reid Carrico (average player rating: 97.73)

Going forward, there are still several recruitments that have chances of coming down to a Buckeye-Tiger decision but likely will feature bigger battles with other programs.

The list includes:

  • Jager Burton: That’s shaping up to be Ohio State vs. Kentucky with a dose of Alabama mixed in.
  • Tristan Leigh: Ohio State seems to be trending away, with Clemson, LSU and others leading
  • Derrick Davis Jr: Ohio State vs. Penn State appears to be the consensus, with Georgia and Clemson, which is expected to get an official visit from Davis, absolutely not being able to be counted out.
  • Tony Grimes: Clemson looked like it would be major contender, but the Tigers have fallen off his final four list that includes Ohio State, North Carolina, Georgia and Texas A&M.

And then, we gravitate toward the player who, more than the rest of those four listed, could wind up coming squarely down to Ohio State vs. Clemson: five-star receiver Emeka Egbuka.

It’s long been a strong belief that Ohio State and Clemson could split the difference between Egbuka and Stellato, and the Buckeyes would be more than happy to do so.

Egbuka, top-ranked receiver and No. 8 overall senior in the country, is one of the most dominant offensive forces in America and could prove to be a transcendent player wherever he ends up. If that’s Ohio State, he has a genuine shot at emerging as the most productive and dangerous receiver out of the entire 2020-2021 group combined. 

All but one of the nine Crystal Ball predictions for Egubka are in favor of Ohio State, and you can read up on our latest update of Egbuka’s recruitment from Monday. 

Despite Stellato committing to Clemson, the Buckeyes are still in terrific shape at receiver in the years to come with those four aforementioned 2020 wideouts, plus Ballard and Harrison Jr., and while I don’t believe Stellato’s decision changes Egbuka’s mind too much, if it does change anything, I believe that’s only a positive for Ohio State. 

The Buckeyes still sit in great shape for Egbuka and Florida slot receiver Christian Leary if they elect to pursue bringing in four receivers in 2021, which we touched on Thursday.

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