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.
Dead period extended, Egbuka timeline affected?
As expected, the NCAA extended the recruiting dead period once again. What wasn't expected was an extension through the end of 2020, but the NCAA Division I Council pulled that move on Wednesday evening, as no in-person visits will be allowed through January 1.
“While the Council acknowledged and appreciates the growing desire to resume in-person recruiting by select coaches’ associations, Council members ultimately concluded the primary concern right now must be protecting the current student-athletes on our campuses,” said Council chair M. Grace Calhoun, athletics director at Pennsylvania. “We encourage our coaches to interact with prospective student-athletes virtually in this time period.”
Sandy Barbour, Medical Co-Chair on the Big Ten's Return to Competition Task Force and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics at Penn State University, said in a Wednesday press conference that, “as a conference, we have made the decision of no public sale of tickets” for Big Ten football games this year.
Barbour said the conference is working on a plan to allow families of the players and coaching staffs to be in attendance for games. But if coaches were going to try and work around those rules and give their tickets up to prospective players and their families, that won't be allowed. The D-I Council said schools will not be allowed to distribute complimentary tickets for recruits or their families to attend home games.
So, with all of that being said, when we look at this from an Ohio State perspective, it's very possible this bumps up the decision timeline of one of the Buckeyes' highest remaining priorities in the 2021 class, five-star Steilacoom (Wash.) prospect Emeka Egbuka.
Just last week, the country's No. 1 receiver told 247Sports' Brandon Huffman that one of the last pieces of the puzzle in his recruitment is getting down to Norman for a visit to Oklahoma:
“I didn’t get out to Oklahoma, but I’m still hoping to get out there,” said Egbuka. “I’m looking to see when the NCAA opens up official visiting. Like it would be ideal to get out there for a game and then an extra day to be able to tour the campus.”
However, even before the dead period was extended through December, it appears Oklahoma is the only place he needs to see. He has never visited Oklahoma, has been to Ohio State twice, and he has been to Washington more times than he count. (And, as we reported last week, Clemson is running a distant fourth in this recruitment and is no longer a real factor here.)
“I don’t think I need to get out to Ohio State anymore, I’ve been up there twice already and feel like I know it,” said Egbuka. “I went to a game too, I went to the Ohio State-Wisconsin game and it was an awesome atmosphere and a really good game, even though I brought the weather from Washington with me. JK (Dobbins) and Chris Olave were amazing and I had a good time with all the other recruits that were there.”
Ohio State is already the leader for Egbuka, and if he's saying he doesn't need to make a return trip there before he makes a decision, that would seem to bode well for the Buckeyes now that the dead period has been extended. And with Oklahoma being the key competition – as we've been reporting for months now while most others believed the Sooners were not a real threat – if he can't get to Norman, that should be another positive sign for the folks in Columbus.
Egbuka is planning on playing his senior season at Steilacoom in the spring, so perhaps that means he will keep waiting things out all the way until February since he will not be enrolling early. But if Egbuka decides enough is enough and doesn't want to wait until January to see if the dead period is lifted (and even then, there's zero reason to feel confident it will actually be lifted), I think it's again good news for Ohio State since he and his family have not been to Oklahoma.
Malone sets commit date
As mentioned above, Egbuka is one of Ohio State's top remaining priorities in the 2021 class. I would rank him at No. 4, just based on positional need, as the Buckeyes are loaded at receiver in both the 2020 and 2021 cycles.
The three ahead of Egbuka, in order, are J.T. Tuimoloau, Tywone Malone and Tristan Leigh. None of those three, especially Tuimoloau and Malone, have many on-record discussions about their recruitments. However, Malone told Rivals' Mike Singer this week that he has decided on a commitment date of Jan. 7, as he wants to make a public decision, presumably with real hats on a real table.
“I’m going to commit at the Under Armour Game, so that’s the deadline of my commitment,” Malone said. “Other than that, just wait and see what happens in that time period.
Malone also told Singer that Ohio State defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste, an alum of Malone's Bergen Catholic (N.J.) High School, has been involved in Malone's recruiting process. Current players' assessments of the program are often just as key of a cog in the recruiting machine as the coaches' recruiting pitches (since players are more likely to tell them their honest opinion of the program), so Jean-Baptiste has been making an impact.
“What I like is that they’re just a bunch of guys competing, which is something that I love,” Malone said of the Buckeyes. “Since my boy Javontae is over there, he’s been telling me a lot of good things about their workouts, so it’s all good.”
Johnson releases top 10
Detroit cornerback Will Johnson is inarguably one of Ohio State's top targets in the 2022 class, and he may even be the No. 1 target (at least defensively) in the cycle.
The Buckeyes are high up the list for Johnson as well, and the 6-foot-2, 185-pound defensive back – who is ranked No. 8 overall, No. 3 at cornerback and No. 1 in Michigan – included Ohio State on a top-10 list he released Wednesday night.
Top 10... pic.twitter.com/FVnPsiG0Dl— Wl Jhno (@Willj1228) September 16, 2020
I believe Ohio State to be the leader in Johnson's recruitment. LSU is one of the contenders for DBU, and that reputation attracted Johnson a bit to the program. The Tigers, however, were left off the list.
“I’d say out of all the schools, I don’t talk to LSU as much as Ohio State or Michigan,” Johnson told Eleven Warriors in late July. “The schools I talk to the most are Ohio State, Michigan, Arizona State, USC, Oklahoma and Penn State, and there’s one or two I’m probably leaving out. But those are the schools I talk to pretty much every week or a couple times a week.”
The recruiting dead period could hurt the Buckeyes with Johnson, as he has been trying to make his way down to Columbus for a visit. But still, Ohio State is in a good position for the five-star corner.
Hancock featured on All-American Bowl's YouTube series
Ohio State cornerback commit Jordan Hancock was one of a handful of players featured on NBC Sports' All-American Bowl virtual jersey presentation video series on Wednesday.
“Being an All-American means everything to me because every high school player dreams of this moment,” Hancock said on the YouTube series. “Also, I would like to thank my parents, my family, my coaches and trainers and North Gwinett (Ga.) High School and Buckeye Nation for getting me to where I am today.”