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.
Although Andrew and I both believe Alabama is going to finish with the recruiting crown, Ohio State’s 2021 recruiting class still has a chance to finish No. 1 when it’s all said and done. If they can land Emeka Egbuka and J.T. Tuimoloau (both of whom the Buckeyes currently are in the lead for), it’ll be a massive, massive cherry on top for this cycle.
With that said, let’s talk about some bad news for Buckeye fans, shall we?!
Andrew laid out his October Heat Check earlier today, and while we feel good about Nos. 1 and on that list (Egbuka and Tuimoloau), Nos. 3-5 are decidedly much bleaker.
Let’s start off with No. 5 on the list in Mater Dei (Calif.) linebacker Raesjon Davis.
Davis, who committed to LSU on New Year’s Day, was already a longshot for the Buckeyes to bring into the class, but I still think they had a shot at landing him had visits been allowed. Davis told Eleven Warriors in June that he and his family were aiming to visit Ohio State to see a gameday atmosphere and really get a feel for what it would be like to play in Columbus.
With the extended dead period, that won’t happen before the early signing period, when Davis is expected to ink his name to the Tigers.
Davis is firmly in the fold for LSU, and he told Rivals’ Adam Gorney this week that there will be no flipping him:
USC, Texas, Oregon, Arizona State and others are still trying to flip the Santa Ana Mater Dei linebacker but Davis is upfront and honest with them: It’s not going to work.
“I just let the teams talk to me because I’m trying to help my little brother out at the same time,” Davis said. “He’s an up-and-coming freshman so I want him to get the same love I got. I don’t want to burn bridges but I’m with LSU at this point, there’s no changing that.
“I tell coaches all the time, ‘You can recruit me but at the end of the day, it’s what my mind tells me and my mind told me LSU.’ That’s what I’m going to stay with.”
No. 4 on the Heat Check list is another Davis, with Derrick Jr. remaining a top target but one we still believe ends up with Penn State. Andrew made a good point in that James Franklin is known for losing his top in-state prospects. Of the top 10 players in Pennsylvania’s 2021 cycle, eight are committed to somewhere other than Penn State, and another has his Crystal Ball projections pointing to the SEC.
Davis, however, seems to have his best relationships with the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff, and Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports caught up with Davis’ father this week to see where things stand. Penn State, LSU, Georgia and Ohio State, Derrick Sr. says, are the top contenders.
Regarding Ohio State: “They’re still a major player. They broke it down in a couple Zoom meetings and how they’d like to play him and things like that, showing him the positions.”
The Buckeyes remain in the race, but it does not sound like they are in the pole position based off that interview.
Out of those Nos. 3-5, No. 3 on the list is the one the Buckeyes seem to have the best odds with, but that will require a visit from Tristan Leigh to the Buckeye Bash later this month.
We covered that earlier today in our latest feature story on Leigh.
Insight into how the recruiting process can mature players
We spoke with Leigh’s head coach at Robinson Secondary (Virginia), Scott Vossler, and he had some insightful thoughts about the recruiting process and how it can help players grow over the years. That’s certainly the case with his star offensive lineman.
What’s impressed Vossler the most about watching Leigh earn all of the attention and bombardment surrounding his recruitment is how he’s handled it. And that’s something that often gets lost in these recruitments. It’s incredible to see how people that young – especially in the social media era – can still keep their composure about themselves, and it’s impressive to see how they grow as young men.
It’s a similar situation to Ohio State commitment C.J. Hicks. I wouldn’t classify him as shy when he was a sophomore, but it was still clear to see he was a bit more reserved and not yet entirely comfortable with the recruiting process and the constant communication with coaches, reporters and fans that he had to go through.
Hicks then went through a full year of having to constantly speak with those three facets of people, and it’s obvious to see how he’s grown over the weeks and months since we first spoke with him. It’s become a major storyline for the Buckeyes’ 2022 class because that maturation process has led to the program having its No. 1 recruiting leader and face of the class, in the same way that Jack Sawyer became that for the 2021 cycle.
As it was for Hicks, it’s been that same type of growth for Leigh.
“It can cut both ways,” Vossler said. “I think (the recruiting process) is really hard for some kids. It kind of puts them on a path that isn’t great, but I think other kids it makes them grow up quick. When you talk to Tristan now, you can tell he’s a lot more confident, and he’ll tell you what he thinks. He knows that when he speaks, it’s gonna get retweeted and people are gonna know about it. So he’s thoughtful about what he says.”
And that’s what you see if you follow along on Leigh’s social media. With the Virginia High School League keeping its decision to push football back to the spring, Leigh has been one of the players at the forefront of trying to get Robinson Secondary and all other high school teams in the state back to the field in the fall. Not that long ago, Vossler says that wouldn’t have been the case.
“Tristan’s been out in front, and I think he’s handled himself really well,” Vossler said. “Two years ago, I would say he’s a very shy kid, doesn’t want all this attention. But as this recruiting process has gone along, I think he’s gained confidence in himself and his willingness to be a leader. He’s always been a leader on our team, but he’s become a leader in our community.
“Just to be able to stand in front of people and speak, I think that’s kind of where he’s found his voice in the last few months. I think a lot of that has to do with he’s been pursued by a lot of people, and people have wanted to speak to him so he had to step into those shoes. I think he’s really gone from a boy into a man, in his social life as well. We’re proud of him.”
Why Ohio State remains an option for Leigh
All of those aspects we just talked about are why the Buckeyes have been gunning so hard for Leigh to bring into their class.
As for the flip side, there are a few major reasons Leigh is so intrigued by Ohio State and hasn’t yet dropped it from his list of serious considerations, as the Buckeyes are in a top three with LSU and Oklahoma (that top three is my own evaluation, not Vossler’s, FYI).
“He likes the level of talent on their roster and that every day in practice he’s potentially going up against a kid who’s gonna be a high draft pick on the other side of the ball. That intrigues him,” Vossler said. “He knows about the history of the stadium and seeing the school. He likes the size of the school, the big atmosphere that surrounds it. They like that it’s just six hours away. Some of those other schools are 12 hours or more. It’s hard to argue with Ohio State. They kind of sell themselves.”
Header photo: Derrick Davis Jr.