The Hurry-Up: With Tristan Leigh Still Trending Away, Ohio State Enters Race for Louisville 2021 Offensive Tackle Commit Zen Michalski

By Zack Carpenter on September 9, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Zen Michalski

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.

Leigh brothers working out with former Buckeye

Five-star Virginia offensive tackle Tristan Leigh tweeted out a pair of photos Tuesday night of him and his fellow Buckeye target brother, Aidan Leigh, at a gym. Their workout partner (or perhaps trainer) was former Ohio State offensive lineman Matthew Burrell, who transferred to Sam Houston State following his redshirt sophomore year as a Buckeye.

Unfortunately for Ohio State fans, that Buckeye connection probably doesn’t mean much of anything in terms of his recruitment, as it’s looking more and more like Leigh is trending toward LSU. 

Clemson was the early pick in this recruitment, but LSU has been one of the prime favorites to land Leigh for a while now. That only grew stronger after Leigh’s visit to LSU this past weekend, and it's looking like Leigh is already going to be making a return trip to Baton Rouge this weekend as well.

Buckeyes offer new OT

Further bolstering an already strong case for Leigh to not end up as a Buckeye was Tuesday’s offer to 2021 three-star offensive tackle Zenuae Michalski, ranked No. 677 overall, No. 56 at offensive tackle and No. 12 in Indiana.

The Floyd Central (Ind.) High School prospect, who goes by “Zen,” has been committed to Louisville since April 25. But the Buckeyes – spearheaded by two people Michalski calls “absolutely amazing guys” in assistant offensive line coach Kennedy Cook and Greg Studrawa – have been building a relationship with Michalski for “about a month now,” he told Eleven Warriors

This new offer has put Ohio State into the forefront of the senior’s recruitment, as he now has his highest-profile offer on the table. 

“Gosh, I almost fell out of my chair,” Michalski said with a laugh when asked of his reaction to the offer. “Definitely affects (my recruitment) a ton. Definitely a lot of thinking needs to happen.”

Similar to how Ohio State 2020 offensive line signee Grant Toutant underwent a major body transformation, so too has Michalski. He went from about 6-foot-2, 185 pounds as a freshman to 6-foot-6, 240 pounds as a junior, and he now stands at 6-foot-6.5, 290 pounds while maintaining athleticism and speed. 

“Last year, they weren’t sure if I would be able to put on weight, and I ended up putting on 65 pounds and they loved that. Then they wanted to see how I played with it and loved it and gave me a scholarship offer,” said Michalski, whose offer came after Floyd Central fell to Cincinnati Elder, 42-14, on Friday night in Floyd’s third game of the season. 

Floyd Central’s head coach, James Bragg, told 247Sports’ Allen Trieu in April how impressive his standout offensive lineman’s growth was:

"He has been growing and he is not flabby," Bragg said. "He's tall, his shoulders want more weight on them and it's been crazy how his body has molded but his footwork has stayed the same. He is very conscious of it and trying to be quick. Donnie Gumble, our strength and conditioning coach has done a great job of making sure he's explosive. His 40 time dropped down below 5.0, I think it was a 4.94 laser but that is because of his work ethic and he knows speed is one of his advantages."

DB “in shock and awe” over OSU offer

It had been two weeks since the Buckeyes had offered a target in the 2022 class (when they offered running back Dallan Hayden and offensive tackle George Fitzpatrick on Aug. 25), but that streak ended on Monday.

Ohio State extended an offer to Iowa’s No. 2-ranked player in the cycle, Xavier Nwankpa, a 6-foot-2, 175-pounder ranked No. 127 overall and No. 9 at safety. 

Nwankpa is from Altoona, Iowa (no, not Allatoona, Georgia like recent tight end commit Bennett Christian) and has offers from Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas and Wisconsin. But the Buckeyes are the Buckeyes, and the offer left an indelible mark.

“Coach (Matt) Barnes (offered), and I was kinda in shock and in awe at the same time; not something I’d seen coming looking back,” Nwankpa told Eleven Warriors. 

The fact that Barnes offered suggests that Nwankpa is seen as a safety and not a cornerback, though he says the Buckeyes are looking at him as a defensive back in general “as of now.”

“They like my versatility, passion, leadership and hitting,” Nwankpa said.

Ohio State’s propensity for putting defensive backs into the league every year is already something that Nwankpa has on his radar, so the Buckeyes offering has put them in a good position with him this fall. 

Penn State offered later on Monday after the Buckeyes came calling, and it’s likely more offers will now filter in.

“I feel like it will cause more interest in me,” Nwankpa said of the Buckeye offer. “Ohio State is a big school, top in the NCAA every year.”

Carrico flies all over field

Kevin hit on this in the Tuesday Skull Session, but it was worth putting in this space as well:

In Week 2, Ohio State linebacker Reid Carrico proved once again why he’s not just one of the best linebackers in the state and the country but also that he’s one of the best all-around high school players in Ohio. 

Carrico is on the hunt for a return to the Division IV state championship game after Ironton lost by a touchdown in Canton in 2019.

“You can be sitting around all the time and laying up in bed at night, you can’t really sleep,” Carrico told Eleven Warriors previously. “What else do you have to think about? Then you think about how you could be having a state championship ring sitting on your dresser. And we didn’t do it. We didn’t get it done. I’ve been up late a lot of nights thinking about it. I’m just thankful I’ve got one more shot to fix things.”

And it looks like he’s making the most of that second chance.

Header photo: Zen Michalski – Michael McCammon/247Sports

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