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.
Montgomery on the rise
Some might say it’s a bit too early to begin diving talking about the 2023 class, with Ohio State still looking to wrap up its 2021 class and with the 2022 class still being a secondary focus.
We don’t see it that way. With the recruiting dead period still in effect and the Buckeyes’ top five or six targets in the 2021 class still in a holding pattern without being able to visit, and with 2022 recruiting in a similar holding pattern because of the inability for Ohio State to evaluate those players in person, it gives us some extra time to look even further down the road.
We’ve done this already with Mentor High School defensive end Brenan Vernon and Ironton High School athlete Trevor Carter, but a third player who is a candidate to wind up as one of Ohio’s top-ranked players in the 2023 class is Findlay High School’s Luke Montgomery.
Montgomery is a 6-foot-5, 260-pounder who is listed as a strongside defensive end, but being so young and with where he’s at in his development, there's a bit of a difference in opinion between programs in where they project the rising sophomore.
“Some schools want me for defensive tackle or defensive end. Some schools want to see me at offensive tackle also,” Montgomery told Eleven Warriors. “OSU, as of now, sees me at offensive tackle, but they also could see me as a DT/DE hybrid – maybe even tight end, but we will have to see.”
The main teams Montgomery says have shown “a lot of interest” include Ohio State, West Virginia, Indiana, Michigan State, Toledo, Wisconsin, Purdue, Penn State and Notre Dame, in addition to Western Michigan, the only team who has offered him thus far.
“Also, Alabama’s offensive line coach, (Kyle Flood), has followed me some, and I will be in contact with him some – hopefully soon,” Montgomery said. “I have been in contact with OSU a lot, including Coach (Tim) Hinton, who came to my basketball practice one time, and I’ve been talking with him a lot and I’ve also been trying to get to talking to Coach (Greg Studrawa). Last spring, I went to a practice and talked to Coach Stud, Coach (Kevin) Wilson, Coach Hinton, and I even talked to Coach (Ryan) Day for a little.”
As many loyal readers know, we love body transformation stories here at Eleven Warriors (for reference, our stories on Paris Johnson Jr., Miyan Williams and Grant Toutant), and Montgomery has been undergoing one of his own this offseason, losing 16 pounds and replacing it with lean muscle.
“Things have been going great,” Montgomery said. “I’ve transformed my body a lot. I’m faster, stronger and can even jump a lot higher. The weight has been a priority to me, and I’ve seen lots of good change.
“I’m not sure (what my vertical is at). I would estimate around 26 (inches), I believe, and I’m just a lot stronger and faster.”
6-5 263 pic.twitter.com/sBNahX27OV— Luke Montgomery (@lukeMonty8) June 7, 2020
Those gains (and losses) in the weight room have put him in a good position going forward as his high school career and recruitment are starting to gain momentum.
“Lots of coaches have given me advice, and I’m just going to stay humbled and keep working hard and take my time during recruiting,” Montgomery said. “I’ve been blessed and humbled to be in a position to be even recognized by these schools. I’m super excited for the next couple of years!”
Impact of Williams’ commitment
Oklahoma being a legitimate opponent to the Buckeyes in Egbuka’s recruitment is something that Andrew and I disagree on a bit, as he believes the Sooners don’t pose as much of a threat to Ohio State as I do.
We do agree, however, that the Buckeyes remain in the driver’s seat, with Kyle McCord and Co. continuing to maintain and build a good relationship with the Steilacoom (Wash.) receiver, and Egbuka’s relationships with Brian Hartline and the rest of the Ohio State coaches solidifies their standing further.
I still believe Washington poses the bigger threat for Egbuka at this stage, but I believe Oklahoma has put itself into No. 3 in this race and has the ability to move up, especially if he's able to visit.
Now that Williams is in the fold, it gives the Sooners an extra chip to play – although they have most likely been playing that chip for a while, as Williams' impending pledge to Oklahoma has been known by Egbuka and his camp for a while.
Egbuka and McCord maintain a solid relationship, but I think Williams going to Oklahoma is of consequence here. First, of course, Egbuka and his family need to make a trip to Oklahoma, as it’s the only school in his final four that he has not visited yet.
As I reported on June 1, I still think we’re looking at an extended timeline on an Egbuka decision either way, as he remains patient and looks to take official visits to schools.
Pair of top 10s
For a while now, I have been saying I like Ohio State’s chances of getting Cincinnati La Salle running back Gi’Bran Payne in the 2022 class.
The first step in making that happen, of course, will be for an offer to actually be extended to the rising junior, who is ranked near the top 200 overall and No. 8 in the state of Ohio.
Payne released a top-10 list on Saturday, and that list features Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Alabama – which offered just a few days before Payne’s La Salle teammate, Devonta Smith, decommitted from the Buckeyes and committed to the Crimson Tide.
Also, the Buckeyes were unable to crack the top-five list for Georgia linebacker Smael Mondon – a top-30 player and No. 2 outside linebacker ranked No. 3 in the state of Georgia.
That doesn't come as any sort of surprise, of course, as Ohio State has not really been in the mix in Mondon's recruitment for weeks now, as the five-star prospect has an SEC-exclusive list of Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee as the final schools in his recruitment.
The Buckeyes' final linebacker target in the 2021 class – or at least the only big-time one whom they remain in the mix for – is Mater Dei (Calif.) four-star Raesjon Davis, the LSU commit who told Eleven Warriors early last month that he is planning on taking a visit to Ohio State with his family, which will be his third visit to Columbus if he does indeed make it to campus.
While Ohio State did not make the top-five list for Mondon or the top-10 list for Payne due to the lack of an offer, the Buckeyes did crack the top-10 list for Domani Jackson, a potential five-star prospect from Mater Dei (Calif.) High School.
Jackson is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound star ranked No. 12 overall, No. 2 at cornerback and No. 2 in the state of California for the 2022 class. Jackson is a teammate of fellow Ohio State cornerback target Jaylin Davies, who committed to Oregon in June but likely would have committed to the Buckeyes had they been willing to accept a commitment without a visit from him.
Top 10.... pic.twitter.com/VPFoRdKG9q— domanijackson (@domanijackson1) July 4, 2020
Jackson’s offer sheet is an impressive who’s-who list of powerhouse programs with 40 total offers. That includes the other nine programs on his list – Texas, Alabama, Michigan, Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Arizona State and USC.
There's a long way to go in Jackson’s recruitment, but early indications appear to be USC is the clear frontrunner in his recruitment, as multiple fellow recruits have indicated to me that Jackson would prefer to stay close to home. Again, though, it’s still early, and perhaps a visit would be able to sway the superstar corner.