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.
Day’s impactful “family atmosphere”
The tight bond of Ohio State’s 2021 class has been talked about ad nauseam by us, but according to many of the Buckeyes’ soon-to-be-senior commits, it’s not really blown out of proportion. They really are that close.
The massive group chat on Twitter with all the commits is well known, and it stays busy every day with the 19 players they have involved.
“We talk all the time,” defensive back commit Jantzen Dunn told Eleven Warriors. “It’s just the main thing is we have a really good group here, and we all have a really good relationship with each other.”
Outside of the commits themselves, there’s one guy running the operation and serving as the glue who has been keeping them all bonded.
“Coach (Ryan) Day makes sure of that because we get on Zoom calls sometimes, and it’s like the whole 2021 class. And sometimes it’s the parents, too,” Dunn says when asked how the class has been able to remain close despite the recruiting dead period keeping them away from each other. “We talk about certain football stuff, and sometimes we play games. Questions about your parents type of games. We’re a tight group, and we have a really good relationship with each other.
“And we’re all close. I’m more than happy. Especially because I’ve talked to all of them before, so when I go in there, it’s not gonna be awkward or anything. We’re just gonna all click and go to work.”
When Dunn says they play games, an example is a trivia night sort of deal in which questions such as “Which parents are most likely to be late to pick you up?”
And, of course, when Dunn’s father, Mitchell Dunn, asks Jantzen “Well, what was your answer?!” the young safety replies, “Definitely you!”
After that interaction, there’s a lot of laughter and some playful banter back and forth, not unlike what occurs on those Zoom calls Jantzen talked about. The fact that Day and his recruiting team have put in the effort to put those types of virtual meetups together during the spring and summer have gone a long way.
“That’s why we love him. He’s just different, and he tries to keep us as tight as possible,” said Dunn, adding that he FaceTimes with Day a couple times a month just to talk for a minute or two when they can.
Adds Mitchell: “A lot of people talk about the family atmosphere (at Ohio State), but Coach Day really brings that home. Their recruiting, you can definitely tell this is not their first rodeo. He always keeps the kids tight and is always talking to them. Out of one day, he took a whole block out of his schedule just to call recruits to see how they’re doing. It was awesome. J loves it.”
When Day took over for Urban Meyer, many people had questions about whether recruiting would take a slide, but it’s only gotten stronger – or, at the worst, stayed the same – under Day so far. After meeting Day in person, Mitchell says it’s clear to see why there’s been no downturn.
“When you meet this guy, he is intense because he’s all football,” Mitchell said. “But you can tell that he’s that coach where he cares more about the kid, and at the end of the day, the kid feels that. And he’s gonna run through a wall for him. He’s just a great guy. But like I told J, it’s all love and roses right now, but when you get in that practice…”
Dunn shakes his head and smirks, knowing fully well that actually being in the program will be different than the recruiting part in terms of the intensity being put on the players in the weight room, in practice and in games. However…
“But we got to see him during a practice, and he’s not a putdown type of guy,” Mitchell said. “He’s not that old school kind of coach. He’s really trying to get the best out of you in a positive way. J looks forward to it.”
As we wrote about on Wednesday, there was a lot that went into Dunn’s specific recruitment, and it all culminated in that wild one hour in April in which he committed to Oklahoma and quickly flipped to Ohio State. A massive factor that went into it that we didn’t touch on as much, though, was the impact of Matt Barnes, the Buckeyes assistant secondary coach/special teams coordinator, who has remained an underrated part of the staff.
While a lot of coaches fill recruits’ heads with fluff or unrealistic expectations of what to expect when they get to college, Barnes was straight up with the Dunns. He told them exactly how hard it was going to be – that going into Ohio State and competing for a job in what is likely to be a loaded secondary is going to be cutthroat.
“We’re gonna be hearing about Coach Barnes for a long time in this sport,” Mitchell said. “He really knows his football, and he knows how to build relationships with kids. … Coach Day and Coach (Kerry) Coombs aren’t overrated whatsoever, but Coach Barnes is severely underrated.”
Henderson remains peer recruiting “star”
As noted above, the Buckeyes’ commit number in the 2021 cycle now stands at 19 following Jordan Hancock’s commitment last weekend. There are a multitude of reasons why Hancock chose to flip to Ohio State from Clemson, and one of them is his good relationship with many players in the Buckeyes’ class.
As we’ve laid out before, there has been no one doing a better job of peer recruiting than TreVeyon Henderson, and Henderson was one of the key guys speaking with Hancock on an almost daily basis. And when discussing how Henderson has been a leader as a peer recruiter, Jantzen Dunn says it’s been a dead on assessment.
“He’s been pretty much the star in all this recruiting stuff,” Dunn said. “Him and Evan Pryor, they do the most recruiting. But I’m not really in the recruiting mode. I’m just working out and eating. It’s pretty good. Tre and Evan do a really good job with that.”
Out of the mix for Benny
Following JC’s Latham’s commitment to Alabama, we laid out a list of possible offensive tackle targets the Buckeyes could pursue. That list begins with five-star Virginia standout Tristan Leigh, the highest-remaining target for Ohio State in the class, and featured Oak Park (Mich.) four-star prospect Rayshaun Benny.
But it appears we can now cut Benny from the list, as the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder released a top-eight list that excluded the Buckeyes but included a trio of their Big Ten opponents.
It’s now starting to appear as if it’s Leigh or bust for the Buckeyes at offensive tackle recruiting, with the possibility that an in-state player could still be targeted if an offer is eventually extended to an Ohio prospect.
Evan Turner gives Johnson a shoutout
Evan Turner remains one of Ohio State’s most successful all-time athletes, and on Sunday morning he gave a shout out to a guy who has the potential to eventually make the same kind of impact in Columbus.
Why folks playing football like this https://t.co/RECqkMSZsT— Evan Turner (@thekidet) July 26, 2020
The hype train keeps rolling for Johnson, who was the No. 1 offensive tackle in America and one of the top-200 all-time recruits in the history of the modern recruiting era.