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.
Burton details top five, relationship with OSU players
It wasn’t long ago when Jager Burton hopped on a Zoom call with Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa. Those calls used to come every week, but they’re down to about every other week for Burton, for the simple fact that he’s not focused on recruiting these days with his team’s workouts back underway and with the inability for him to do the final, most important part of recruiting – take his official visits.
On one of his most recent calls with Studrawa, however, the two of them dissected the film of a pair of Ohio State greats on the opposite side of the ball.
“We watched the Super Bowl and like five other games,” Burton told Eleven Warriors, as the pair watched the pass-rush moves of Nick Bosa. “We watched Joey Bosa to see his moves and how to counter those moves. We watched the Super Bowl for a while – like, we watched play by play, breaking each play down. And then we watched a lot of Redskins film because that’s my favorite team. We were breaking down the protections and stuff. They’ve got Trent Williams. That’s basically who I watch. And then I watch Quenton Nelson and Taylor Lewan.”
Nelson is the two-time first-team All-Pro offensive guard for the Indianapolis Colts, while Lewan and Williams are multi-time Pro Bowlers at offensive tackle.
Burton’s athleticism and skillet appears to have him slotted in as an offensive guard at the next level. Those traits make him a great fit on Ohio State’s offensive line, which we dove into on Wednesday. But according to Burton, the Buckeyes view him as being able to play multiple spots on the offensive line, so trying to learn from the game tape of Lewan and Williams, in addition to Nelson’s, is a good move in that regard.
“They said I could play anything,” Burton said when asked of the Buckeyes’ vision for how he would be utilized. “When I first went to their camp, I was 6-3, and now I’m 6-5. They wanted me to play center at first, and now they’re saying they want me to play guard, tackle or center because I can play anything. I think it’s just more of where they have openings at is where it would work for me. Most likely guard; hopefully guard. But wherever I get on the field earliest, I don’t care.”
When speaking with Studrawa or any other coach recruiting him, at this late point in the process, Burton has become a veteran in being able to weed through what’s real and what’s fake.
But to get a better gauge of a program, it’s the players – current and former – who he seeks out the most.
“This has never happened, but say I DM Billy Price and ask him if he liked Ohio State and he said no, then I would be like, ‘OK. That’s something to mark down,’” Burton said. “Obviously, every person’s different. But it’s a coach’s job to get you to go there, but a player has no reason at all to get you to go there.”
Recently, Burton spent time speaking with Luke Wypler and Harry Miller for about an hour-and-a-half following a Zoom call with Studrawa to ask them their feelings about Ohio State.
“They were both about to go to Stanford, and then they just picked Ohio State,” Burton said. “Luke’s story was crazy. He said he woke up the day of his commitment. He was gonna go to Stanford and then was just like, ‘I’m going to Ohio State.’ It was that quick. Literally the day of his commitment. He said he had a dream or a feeling or something that that’s what he had to do. I hope that happens to me. That’d make it a lot easier. Just wake up one morning and know. He must have a gift or something.”
Certainly would make it easier. Burton says that even his parents don’t know where Burton is wanting to go, as they recently asked him if he even has a top two, and he told them no.
In speaking with Burton one-on-one Monday, it’s clear he has a strong affinity for both Ohio State and Kentucky because of the comfort level he has with both programs. Those are the two schools that just about every recruiting analyst believes are in Burton’s final two, but there’s a much stronger sense that 1) His recruitment is far from over and 2) Those two programs might have a slight lead, but they have not come close to pulling away from the pack.
In that interview, Burton gave a detailed look at the top five schools left in his recruitment – Ohio State, Kentucky, Oregon, Clemson and Alabama – and why they are each still being viewed highly in his mind. The schools were discussed in no particular order:
“For a long time, Ohio State was No. 1. You go to a place – that was one of the last places I visited game-wise – and I’ve always been one of those people that I go to a game, and I wanna go to that school. And then the next week, I go to another game, and I wanna go to that school. I think that’s why, but it’s always been like that. One week, Texas will be my No. 1 school and then not even in my top five. It’s just confusing, especially now, because you can’t even go look at anything. I kind of know everything, but the most important thing for me has always been talking to players, and I haven’t been able to do that. That’s what officials are for, basically, and to spend the night there and see how it feels.
“With Ohio State and all my schools, I’m just waiting for my official visits. But what draws me there is if you wanna live in Columbus after your career’s over – which I’m not sure I wanna do yet – but if you do wanna live in Columbus, you’re set for life. That’s the way it is with most of my schools. It’s a good Plan B to fall back on if the NFL doesn’t work out. It’s just the big city vibe. And, obviously, you’re probably gonna win a national championship if you’re there.”
Go bucks https://t.co/IoAp4t1kud— Jager Burton (@jager_burton) July 6, 2020
“You grow up in Kentucky and you see all their games. I’ve seen the growth with Joker and Stoops and all that and how much it’s changing. Where are they gonna be in another five years if they’ve already come this far in two or three? Just think about that and then obviously all my friends are gonna go there. Just staying local.
“I definitely wanna respond to this, too – I’ve never responded to this on Twitter – but everyone will be like, ‘why is Kentucky in this group? Kentucky doesn’t fit in with this group.’ But if you really look at the numbers and you look at the best O-line classes, one of the best O-line classes in the rankings is Kentucky. They’re one of the best O-line schools. If I wasn’t an O-lineman then it’d be different. Kentucky is on the rise, and they’ve been in the top 25 for about three years now. So I just wanted to say something about that.”
(Burton was likely referencing this list by Pro Football Focus, in which the Wildcats were listed as the fifth-best line in college football’s 2019 season. All five schools in Burton’s final list finished in the top seven.)
“Oregon was my dream school growing up. When I was little, I think I just liked the uniforms. But they’re basically the only school with an O-line head coach with Coach (Mario) Cristobal, and then I have Coach (Alex) Mirabal, so basically two O-line coaches – two of the best O-line coaches. And I think the job security is great there. I don’t think they’re going anywhere, so if I go there, you know they’re probably gonna be there the whole time.”
“If anyone’s ever been to Clemson, you understand why someone would wanna go there. It’s South Carolina. It’s perfect weather all the time. There’s lakes everywhere. I’m a Christian, so the Christian aspect plays into it all for me. And it just kind of feels like Lexington, in a weird way.
“(Former teammate and now-Clemson offensive tackle Walker Parks) was always a Kentucky fan, and his dad played for Kentucky. But I think, once you go there, you understand why people wanna go there like, ‘OK. This makes sense now.’ And just how nice the people are there. It’s crazy how nice they are. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place like that where just everyone is so genuine and nice. They don’t really care who you are. They just care that you’re there to see what it’s all about.”
“Alabama’s definitely one of my top schools. Just having the opportunity to play for a coach like Coach (Nick) Saban, who’s coached for so long. In my opinion, he’s probably the best coach in college football, just over time. And then, obviously, seeing what they did with (Jedrick Wills), who’s five minutes away from me. I talk to him about what he’s had to go through in the recruiting process. It’s easy to see myself playing out the same way as Jed and just going there and being successful. Plus, it’s not too far from home. Ohio State’s closer, but Alabama’s a little bit closer than Clemson. It’s a good distance away if I do wanna leave home. And then the tradition and playing in games like the Iron Bowl every year and Alabama vs. LSU.”
Spindler, Payne drop commitment dates
Even though Ohio State appears to be out of the mix for Rocco Spindler and Damon Payne – a pair of top-50 overall prospects from Michigan – it won’t be long until we find out where the two are headed for college.
Spindler told Detroit News preps beat writer David Goricki that he has set a commitment date of Aug. 8, and Payne announced via Twitter that he will be committing on July 26.
Thank you to all the schools that have offered me I will be announcing my commitment on July 26th— Dame (@DamonPayne2021) July 10, 2020
Spindler has been trending toward either Michigan, Notre Dame or Penn State for months, with Ohio State and LSU as the other programs in his final five. The Buckeyes were in major need of a visit from Spindler to make another impactful impression on him, but they will not get the chance to do so. It looks like that will be a hit in their odds of landing him, and they will have to look elsewhere.
The current Crystal Ball selections are split down the middle with four apiece for Spindler to choose Michigan or Notre Dame, and I will put my own pen to paper predicting he commits to Michigan.
As for Payne, it looks like Alabama is going to add another five-star recruit to its scorching-hot class. Payne, ranked No. 18 overall, would be the third five-star commit for the Crimson Tide in 2021 and the fourth top-50 player they have landed a commitment from.
“Alabama’s been going wild recently,” Burton said. “They had no commits and now they’re getting everyone. They’re on fire. Tennessee was, and now it’s Alabama. I just remember looking one day because I always look at rosters and stuff. So I was looking at past classes, and then it automatically reset to the 2021 class, and I was like ‘Wow. They only have one guy committed,’ and it was a corner who decommitted. I saw he decommitted, and three or four weeks later, everyone started committing. They got a really good receiver. They text me every time they get one.”
However, don’t expect Alabama’s momentum to lead to a commitment from Burton, at least not in the near future.
“I don’t really feel like I’m gonna be committing soon, so it doesn’t really matter to me that much,” Burton said. “I think if something was happening like that right before I was about to make my decision, it’s easy to get caught up in that stuff. But that wouldn’t change my decision. But if I knew where I was going and I saw all that momentum, it might make me wanna commit earlier just to keep the momentum going.”
Previewing Obetz camp
On Saturday, Fortress Obetz in Obetz, Ohio will be hosting the Elite Underclassmen Camp, featuring an extensive array of Buckeye commits, targets and players looking to earn offers from the program, in addition to earning their way to the Under Armour Future 50 and Under Armour All-America Game.
Always a blessing to compete. Cant wait till July 11 pic.twitter.com/783ooh57G0— Tegra Tshabola (@tshabola_tegra) June 19, 2020
Eleven Warriors will be on hand throughout the day to evaluate and interview many of the top prospects on hand. The event kicks off in the morning with the following schedule:
- 8:15 a.m. (running backs)
- 9:30 a.m. (linebackers)
- 10:30 a.m. (defensive line)
- 12:30 p.m. (defensive back)
- 1:30 p.m. (offensive line)
- 2:45 p.m. (quarterback)
- 4:15 p.m. (wide receivers)
- Running backs: Gi’Bran Payne, Dillon Tatum
- Linebackers: Hicks, Shawn Murphy
- Defensive line: Derrick Shepard, Luke Montgomery
- Defensive back: Brown, Delian Bradley, Trevor Carter
- Offensive line: Tshabola, Demon Moore, Ryan Baer
- Quarterback: Drew Allar, Te’Sean Smoot
- Receiver: Elijah Brown
Allen drops top six
Braelon Allen does not yet have an offer from Ohio State or Florida State. But that did not stop the bold Fond Du Lac (Wisc.) High School four-star safety from putting both programs on his top-six list.
Allen is one of the players who Hicks has mentioned multiple times as one of the top players he speaks with the most, as he is hoping Allen could one day earn a Buckeyes offer and join the 2022 class.