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.
Miller looking deeper into Ohio State's program
For many of Ohio’s top prospects, who have worked for years to earn an offer from the home state Buckeyes, the moment they are extended that offer typically means they have to hold themselves back from committing on the spot.
Not for Blake Miller. Instead, the three-star Strongsville High School offensive tackle stayed even keeled when he was handed the news by the Ohio State staff, heeding the advice of Greg Studrawa and Ryan Day who told him “it’s not a four-year decision. It’s a 40-year-decision,” and that he should take his time. And even though many people thought Miller was going to pull the trigger soon after he was offered, the young lineman is staying patient.
“When I first got the offer, it was definitely amazing, but I didn't want to jump the gun and commit straight off the bat,” Miller told Eleven Warriors earlier this month. “I want to further build the relationship with those coaches and further just take a deeper and deeper look into the program to make sure that whichever place I do go is the perfect fit.”
Miller was offered by the Buckeyes on April 24, on the afternoon that the NFL Draft held its second and third rounds. However, reaching the NFL is not necessarily the end-all, be-all for the rising junior currently ranked No. 9 in the state in his class and No. 27 at offensive tackle nationwide.
Putting players into the league and developing them into athletes who can gain success and multi-million dollar contracts is probably Ohio State’s best sell in recruiting. But Miller – whose unofficial top three is Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan, in addition to offers from LSU, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M – wants to know more about the program as a whole.
“I'd really just like to learn the life of the players,” Miller said. “Not like football and practicing, but on campus. What their players have to go through in a day, a player's schedule from whenever they wake up for workouts in the morning until when they go to bed at night. I'd like to learn the whole player experience. That goes for every school, really. I just want to know if I'm a player for them, what the day is going to look like for me and if I can handle what that day is.”
As with any recruitment, Miller’s family is involved in the process as well. And though Miller’s parents grew up lifelong Buckeye fans, their fanhood won’t be a determining factor on where he goes. But there is one big factor they want Miller to consider whenever he picks his college destination.
“Both my parents think academics is pretty important,” Miller said. “They want me to go to a school that not only preaches you're a football player then you're a student. They want you to be, if you're not doing well in school, they have ways to help you out and get you study tables and stuff like that. They're both very big on academics.”
Got a chance to spend some time with Strongsville offensive tackle Blake Miller this morning. It turns out if you can rep 540 pounds on squat as a 16-year-old junior, Ohio State and everybody else in America wants you to protect their quarterback. pic.twitter.com/HKlAo7dDIU— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) July 8, 2020
It also appears Miller is keeping his recruiting circle very tight and won’t have his decision impacted by other commits.
“I don't really talk to many other recruits, honestly,” Miller said. “Those guys, they picked a school they did for a reason, but their reasons might be different from mine. I try not to let them influence me on that because if you're committed to a school, you think that school's the greatest school ever and no one's going to change your mind. You've got to kind of think, these guys who are committed to this school, they want you to go there because they think that school's the best. And to them, yeah, it is the best. But maybe to you, it's not. Maybe there's something about that school that sticks out.”
Even though, as we said above, many expected Miller to make a decision soon after he was offered by Ohio State – including many of us here at Eleven Warriors – it doesn’t appear that he will be committing anytime soon as he continues to feel out the process and keep his options open.
We do believe Ohio State will be the ultimate destination, but we will continue to wait and see. In the meantime, Miller is preparing for a huge junior season that could go a long way in telling us how much he has developed during an offseason that is usually the biggest for a young recruit looking to improve his skill set.
“I always strive to be the best wherever I am,” Miller said. “I strive to be the best offensive lineman here. I strive to always be an asset for a coach, not something that, 'Oh, he does his job, nothing more.' I want to be the player that we need those two, three years. Coach looks at me and goes, 'We're running by you.' I want to be the guy. It's not like a selfish thing. It's just I want to be the best. That's just me. I want to push myself. If I feel comfortable in a scenario, it's not good. I want to be out of my comfort zone. I always want to be pushing and pushing. I never want to settle for anything. So I just want to be coached. Or I just want to be the player that the coach goes to, the player that the coach trusts.”
Buckeyes in mix for four-star safety Williams
When the first 247Sports Composite rankings for the class of 2022 were released two weeks ago, one of the biggest risers was Orlando safety Markeith Williams.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder went from being ranked No. 281 in the Top247 rankings to No. 137 in those rankings, which put him at No. 163 overall, No. 11 safety and No. 19 in Florida in the class as a four-star prospect.
Even before those rankings updates, Williams had already caught the attention of nearly 20 programs who have offered – highlighted by Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Ohio State, which offered on Jan. 24.
On Sunday at 2:40 a.m., Williams released a top 11 that includes all eight of those programs, plus Nebraska, Louisville and West Virginia.
My Top 11 pic.twitter.com/Mn1t2bae28— MarkeithWilliams (@MarkeithWilli10) July 26, 2020
Payne makes it official
There's not much to say about the commitment of the country’s No. 1 defensive tackle and No. 15 overall player, five-star Michigan product Damon Payne, that we haven’t already covered. We all knew a commitment to Alabama was coming, and the news became official on Sunday.
As anticipated, Payne’s commitment pushes the Tide closer to the Buckeyes in the hunt for the recruiting crown – one that would be Alabama’s ninth and Ohio State’s first in the modern recruiting era. (The recruiting crown really only became a thing in 2010, meaning the Tide have won eight of the possible 11 recruiting titles.)
- No. 1 Ohio State: 305.47 points (94.94 average player rating)
- No. 2 Alabama: 280.75 points (94.48 average player rating)