The Hurry-Up: JC Latham Appears Ready to Make a Decision With Alabama and LSU the Buckeyes’ Top Competition, Michael Trigg Releases Top 10

By Zack Carpenter on June 7, 2020 at 6:30 pm
JC Latham

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.

Latham decision coming

The race to land a commitment from five-star left tackle JC Latham has come down to Ohio State, LSU and Alabama, with longshot Oklahoma in the mix on the periphery, and it looks as if the IMG (Fla.) Academy stud has made up his mind after tweeting the following on Saturday evening:

From the people I’ve spoken with about Latham’s recruitment, the consensus thing I keep hearing back is, essentially, “I don’t know where this one is heading.” 

More than many recruits, Latham and his camp have done a good job of keeping this one close to the vest. There is not a ton of optimism for a Latham-to-Ohio State decision, but it does appear we will find out his decision in the next week or two.

Ohio State appeared to have the inside track for Latham – the 17th-ranked overall player and fifth-ranked offensive tackle in the 247Sports Composite rankings – ever since his Nov. 23 visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes' 28-17 win over Penn State, which was his second visit of the year after having visited in the spring. 

That visit went a long way in Latham's mind, as he told Eleven Warriors two days after the visit, “I loved it. It was really incredible. All the fans and everyone was getting along with each other and people communicating with one another. Just the vibe was great.”

Latham said his top two were Ohio State and LSU, and he was comparing the two powerhouse programs head-to-head. For a long while, those two programs were the only two that seemed to have a great chance at landing a commitment from Latham. 

However, since late April, Alabama has made a very strong push with one major pitch being that the Tide offers a faster route to playing time. 

The Buckeyes signed one five-star left tackle in 2020 (Paris Johnson Jr.), have a commitment from another highly rated tackle in 2022 (Tegra Tshabola) and have Nicholas Petit-Frere and Dawand Jones, among others, on the depth chart as well. 

Meanwhile, the Tide signed three offensive tackles in the 2019 class ranked in the top 80 overall (No. 7 Evan Neal, No. 40 Pierce Quick, No. 76 Amari Kight), but did not sign an offensive tackle ranked inside the top 300 in 2020 and does not yet have an offensive tackle commit in the 2021 class (while the Buckeyes have longtime commit Ben Christman, the 15th-ranked OT in the class, in the fold).

LSU has an equally strong case here based on numbers. The Tigers signed just two offensive tackles in 2019 (No. 154-ranked Ray Parker and No. 451 Thomas Perry), one in 2020 (No. 108 Marcus Dumervil) and have not landed any OT commits in 2021.

For Ohio State to win out, it will do so largely with a future-and-family approach backed by ties to the area for Latham, who was born in Mississippi, moved to Waukesha, Wisconsin, around his third-grade year, and has family in Akron.

“For me, they’re really just family,” Latham told Eleven Warriors previously of the Buckeyes. “Everyone really connected with one another, and everyone was really loving one another; trying to get to know each other. It’s like they accepted you right off the bat, no matter who you were. It was a loving and accepting environment, treating you like family.”

Other targets

If Latham goes elsewhere, there are three other offensive tackles who come to mind in regards to possible targets for the Buckeyes to pursue harder: Tristan Leigh, Garrett Dellinger and Rayshaun Benny.

Leigh is trending toward Clemson, and Dellinger appears to be an LSU lean, so the Buckeyes would have some work to do in both recruitments. But Benny, as I mentioned a couple weeks ago, is a key name to monitor going forward if Ohio State misses out on Latham.

Along with Washington stars J.T. Tuimoloau and Emeka Egukba, Latham is one of the Buckeyes’ top-three remaining targets in the 2021 class. Without a commitment from Latham, the Buckeyes’ chances of winning their first-ever recruiting crown would still be strong, but their odds of finishing with the No. 1-ranked class of all-time take a hit – especially with the momentum Kentucky has with Jager Burton and Tennessee has with Hudson Wolfe.

However, getting commitments from Tuimoloau, Egbuka, Derrick Davis Jr. and Tywone Malone would put the Buckeyes at 323.18 points (Florida’s 2010 class, which holds the No. 1 all-time spot, has 324.62 points) with 23 commitments.

As a final note, there were some thoughts circulating on social media and message boards that Latham’s tweet could be alluding to an impending announcement of a commitment to an All-American game, but Latham is already committed to the Under Armour All-America Game. The Florida high school star is unlikely to decommit from that Florida all-star game to join the All-American Bowl in Texas.

Trigg releases top-10 list

As mentioned in the scenarios we listed out a few days ago, if the Buckeyes are unable to land a commitment from Wolfe, they could go in a couple different directions with who they attempt to fill out the class with.

If they do indeed pursue a tight end other than Wolfe, though, Michael Trigg – who released a top-10 list on Sunday featuring Ohio State, LSU and Penn State – is another player to keep in mind. Trigg, who was offered by Kevin Wilson in-person on Jan. 22, is the No. 5-ranked tight end and the No. 153-ranked overall player in the 2021 class out of Seffner Christian (Fla.) Academy.

“I really like Ohio State,” Trigg told Eleven Warriors. “I talk to the coaches pretty much every day or I try to. … They said (the offense) would be different if they had a tight end with my skill set because I’m more of an athletic tight end, and they don’t really have tight ends like that up there.”

Trigg, an athletic 6-foot-4, 210-pounder who has also starred on the basketball court, says the Buckeye staff has been consistently pursuing him, and he says he will soon be narrowing his list further – possibly down to a top-five list – and that there is a “very good” chance Ohio State finds its way into that group.

Jordan Dingle, the three-star Kentucky tight end out of Bowling Green, is another name we’ve mentioned often here. I don’t believe the Buckeyes will elect to push for Dingle, but if they did, I like their chances of landing him. 

Ritzie coming off the board

One more commitment to remind you of is North Carolina defensive end Jahvaree Ritzie, who will be announcing his decision on Friday.

It appears that the home state Tar Heels will be welcoming in the hyper-athletic four-star talent to their program-building 2021 class, taking him off the Buckeyes’ board.  

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