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.
Davies comes off the board
It had been expected for a little more than three weeks, but on Friday, Mater Dei (Calif.) four-star cornerback Jaylin Davies officially came off the board, announcing his commitment to Mario Cristobal and the Oregon Ducks.
Davies heading to Oregon, however, should not be chalked up as a loss for the Buckeyes on the recruiting trail. That runs contrary to the recruitments of Troy Stellato, JC Latham and Hudson Wolfe, who each committed to Southern programs and should be marked as misses for Ohio State. Those were tough for the Buckeyes to take, but Davies' situation was different.
When Davies put Ohio State in his final four in May, the Buckeyes looked to be the clear favorite for the top-150 talent, and we believed that if they pushed for him, Davies would have committed to the 2021 class. That would have required a visit from Davies, however, and that would not have happened until at least August with the recruiting dead period extended – and perhaps even longer.
Instead, the Buckeyes essentially chose to take Saguaro (Ariz.) High School cornerback Denzel Burke in the class over Davies. Though Burke has not yet visited Columbus, either, Ryan Day has been able to meet the young athlete face-to-face and evaluate him in person.
The Buckeyes, Eleven Warriors was told, were going to continue to recruit Davies, but there was unlikely to be room for him in Ohio State’s defensive backs haul and a commitment would not occur until at least the fall. Either way, Davies is now officially off the board, and the Buckeyes’ lone remaining defensive back targets in the class are Derrick Davis Jr., Jordan Hancock and Tony Grimes – in that order of most likely to least likely to wind up in the class.
Davis’ recruitment is likely to come down to Ohio State and Penn State with Clemson and Georgia also involved. Flipping Hancock from Clemson to Ohio State is starting to gain a small bit of steam but remains largely unlikely as we sit here today. And Grimes-to-Ohio State also remains unlikely, though a visit and continued push from Kerry Coombs and Matt Barnes could change things there.
An introduction to Vernon
Obviously, Ohio State’s top priority is closing out its 2021 class with a bang, with the five highest remaining uncommitted targets being J.T. Tuimoloau, Tywone Malone, Emeka Egbuka, Jager Burton and Davis (probably in that order).
They are also keeping a keen eye on the 2022 class, as steady and thorough film evaluation continues on that front before they are able to start making stronger pushes there.
But the coaching staff is also looking at the horizon toward the 2023 class, especially toward in-state prospects, as the relationship-building process begins very early with the best players in the state.
This weekend, we are introducing two key in-state names to get to know early on in this process, as you are likely to hear about these two players quite a bit in the years ahead.
Today, we are looking at Mentor rising sophomore Brenan Vernon, a strongside defensive end with nine offers to his name already from Duke, Indiana, Kent State, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame and West Virginia.
Vernon is a 6-foot-5, 245-pounder who has a quick get-off at the snap, great lateral quickness and great athleticism, especially for his age. There is a lot of chatter already that Vernon could be the top-ranked player in the state of Ohio by the time he is a junior or a senior, and if he does earn that billing, he would join Zach Harrison (2019) and Jack Sawyer (2020) as recent in-state defensive ends to earn the No. 1 spot in the state. Vernon says he is aware of those expectations, but he is not letting those burden him.
“I definitely feel pressure, but I like to just stay in my own little zone and just worry about myself,” Vernon told Eleven Warriors. “I try not to worry about what's going on with others in the football community. I'm just worried about myself and the work I’m producing.”
Vernon touches base with Ohio State director of football relations Tim Hinton and defensive line coach Larry Johnson every week, as he and Johnson continue building a relationship that started last summer at a one-day Ohio State camp. Johnson worked with Vernon at that camp, critiquing and correcting technique in how Vernon was using his hips and upper body, and he showed Vernon some hand-throwing techniques, as well.
Johnson and Co. have not yet offered Vernon, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before that occurs.
And while it's still very early in the recruiting process for Vernon and he has yet to get enveloped in the craziness of it all, he is already heeding advice on how to handle himself when things do begin to ramp up. He says some weeks are more hectic than others when it comes to recruiting.
“The biggest advice I get is from my coaches,” Vernon said. “When times get rough, they'd really be the ones stepping in and getting me in a right state of mind when it comes to all this.
“They’ve said to just do your thing and let the recruiting take care of itself, meaning don't mess your head up by continuously thinking of it and stressing about it.”
In the meantime, Vernon is focused on improving his own play and taking his team to another level. Vernon and his Mentor teammates have been getting back onto the field for workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and he’s happy to be back out between the lines.
“It was real frustrating not being able to be working with my team each and every day,” Vernon said. “We’ve adjusted to it quickly. I just don't think about the fact that everything’s different. I just go in and put in the work that has to be done.”
While Vernon says there was a bit of an adjustment period on that first day back to the field, he says that he was staying in shape during the quarantine by doing sprints around his cul-de-sac, bodyweight exercises and being fortunate enough to get into a weight room twice a week.
He says some results started to show: “I was able to put on some good weight with what I was doing.”
Last season, Mentor went 13-1 before losing to Pickerington Central, 28-21, in the Division I state semifinals. The Cardinals outscored their opponents, 368-42, backed by one of the best defenses in the state. They captured the Greater Cleveland Conference championship with a 7-0 mark in conference games.
This season, Vernon and his teammates are back for more.
“There’s some growth to occur in all of us, but we definitely got a squad,” Vernon said. “It’s just a matter of how bad they and myself want it.”
As a freshman in 2019, Vernon finished seventh on the team in the three main tackling categories – total tackles (45), solo (27) and assisted (18) – and finished ninth with three tackles for loss. He tallied two sacks. In his sophomore season, Vernon is hoping to make more strides.
“The main goal is to be the best – the best that offensive tackles ever played and the best player that team has ever seen,” Vernon said. “My goal’s to be the best in whatever I do.”