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.
Handling dead period during uncertainty
When talking about why recruits love Ryan Day and his staff’s approach to building and continuing relationships, 2021 Buckeye commit Jantzen Dunn glowed about the creativity Day and his team have displayed during the dead period.
It’s obviously an unprecedented time, and without being able to see any of their recruits in person, it’s brought forth some unique strategies that normally would take place in person. But as the recruiting dead period continues getting extended – meaning face-to-face interactions with their 2021, 2022 and 2023 commits and targets continues to be nonexistent – Day said during a Zoom press conference with reporters on Thursday that he’s been happy with how those relationships have continued to build despite the circumstances.
“We try to stay in touch the best we can,” Day said. “Zoom is a great medium for that, to keep building those relationships and talk things through. The good news is a lot of them have already been on our campus so they know about us. We just haven’t been able to spend a whole lot of time with them over the last six months. It’s been a long time. But it goes back to relationships and trust and continuing to build, and I do feel for these recruits and their families of not having the ability to come and see it. But, again, it’s a unique time, and everybody’s adjusting the best they can.”
On the first day of the early signing period last December, Day flashed probably the most enthusiasm and delight throughout his entire first full season in charge of the program that day, with the exceptions of postgame press conferences following wins over Penn State and Michigan. A lot of that was because the relief that years’ worth of relationship building and creating genuine bonds was culminating in essentially one big celebration in officially welcoming all of those new players (and their families) to the program.
In order to have another special day like that four months from now, it looks like Day and his staff are going to have to do all of that virtually instead of in person.
But with support from the players and their support groups, it makes the job easier as they continue to grind during the uncertainty.
“I’ve been proud of what we’ve done so far, and we just have to go from there,” Day said. “And I’m proud of our recruits, and I’m proud of our players who have been continuing to build those relationships as well – and our coaches, in this time of adjusting. Because it’s easy to get frustrated, but you have to adjust during these times.”
Pennsylvania decision on football could be coming soon
When meeting with Derrick Davis Jr. at Pennsylvania’s Gateway High School on Monday, the four-star safety and his coaches were enthusiastic about being able to be back on the field and at the prospect of getting to kick off the regular season on Sept. 11 on this same field.
However, there is a chance that the season ends up getting pushed back to the spring, as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf made a recommendation that all fall sports, kindergarten through 12th grade, should be postponed until Jan. 1.
On Friday, the PIAA Board of Directors met and came to the decision to postpone mandatory workouts for two weeks (until Aug. 24) while voluntary workouts are still allowed. The board will meet again on Aug. 21 to discuss plans moving forward.
PIAA Update: pic.twitter.com/pUe1ujr8FR— PIAA (@PIAASports) August 7, 2020
The decision to potentially postpone all sports until Jan. 1 would affect the senior seasons of Ohio State commits Kyle McCord and Marvin Harrison Jr., in addition to Davis, who told Eleven Warriors that he is planning on enrolling early if the season is pushed back to spring “just to prepare myself for the next level.”
He discussed how difficult that decision would be, as he hopes to finish off his senior season by winning the program’s first-ever state championship.
“Just to prove that our team is the best in the state in 5A, and I just wanna leave outta here with a state championship,” Davis said when asked what he feels he has left to prove as a high school player. “Got two WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League) championships, but now I wanna get a state championship. I think that’s really important for the school to get that state title. We’ve never won one, so that would mean a lot. That’d be huge.”
OHSAA decision affects Buckeye commits
As the PIAA was pushing back a decision of whether fall sports will be played, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced a new format in which teams will play six games with every team making the playoffs, which will begin in October.
The OHSAA's new format will affect 10 Ohio State commits who are set to play either their senior or junior seasons this fall, including two 2021 commits – Pickerington North's Jack Sawyer and Massillon Washington's Jayden Ballard – who were set to square off at noon on Sunday, Aug. 30 on ESPN2, but that game could be in jeopardy depending on how the schedule is crafted.
Speaking of Ballard and Sawyer...
Ballard’s stock and reputation is continuing to grow exponentially during this offseason, and he took to Twitter to do some rare talking about himself for the laid back and not-very-talkative receiver.
I keep growing and adding more weight 64.5 190 lbs— JB (@J_Ball21) August 7, 2020
Ballard is ranked No. 49 overall and No. 5 at wide receiver in the nation and No. 2 in Ohio. He was ranked No. 119 overall at one point last summer, but his stock continues to rise.
And Sawyer, who has been undergoing his own continual physical growth, was ecstatic to get back out on the practice field with his teammates for one final ride, telling Storied Rivals, “It feels great. It feels great to get back out here with the team and get to compete. We’re still all hoping and praying that we get this season. We’re all excited. We know we’ve got a good team. Great defense, good offense. We’re excited to be out here and be with each other and practice.”
Sawyer is planning to enroll early at Ohio State, even if Ohio high school football is moved to the spring.