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.
Ewers, Burton, Jackson put OSU at center of recruiting world again
We are obviously going to await what happens here, but over the past 48-72 hours, one of the biggest stories in the weird, what-the-hell is going on world of recruiting has been what’s going on with Ohio State’s 2022 class. And that comes after the 2021 class was the epicenter of the recruiting world over a weekend when Ohio State’s actual football team was the center of college football.
A mega reason that the 2022 class has taken center stage is because of the decommitment of five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers and the strong feelings that Ohio State is the favorite to land the nation’s No. 2 overall player and No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the cycle.
Ohio State already has C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller to lock down the quarterback position, and five-star Kyle McCord is in the fold in the 2021 class. But when asked about the importance of recruiting an elite-level quarterback in every class, Day on Thursday said, “That’s where it starts. At Ohio State, if you come to be a quarterback, you’re the shortstop of the New York Yankees.”
Perhaps, then, Ewers will soon become the Buckeyes' version of Derek Jeter.
Ewers indicated a decision could come soon on where he wants to commit to, and moments after he decommitted, six Crystal Ball predictions flew in for the Buckeyes to land him. What Ewers told 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong previously about why they stand out seems to line up perfectly with what the Buckeyes offer:
“Just their success and ability to go to the college football playoff every year,” Ewers said in the past of what stands out.
“The main thing I look for when I’m talking to a coach or looking at a University is development of past quarterbacks and who was as successful as they were in years past? I’ve known those guys for a while. I went up there in eighth grade (the family has a cabin in the Columbus area), that’s when they offered me and ever since then I’ve kept a good relationship and it’s been fun talking to those guys. Coach (Corey) Dennis is really fun to talk to. He’s younger, easier to connect with and Coach (Ryan) Day as well, those guys are really cool.”
Another reason the 2022 group is trending is because of the Crystal Ball predictions for Ohio State to land five-star Caleb Burton, a fellow Texan who has talked in the past about teaming up with Ewers at the next level.
Jackson’s dad discusses son’s recruitment
Annnnd yet another one of the reasons the Buckeyes’ next-next group of commits is right in the thick of the action is because of five-star cornerback Domani Jackson, the nation’s No. 3 overall player and No. 1 cornerback, who on Wednesday had a trio of Crystal Balls fly in for Ohio State to land the stud from powerhouse Mater Dei (California) High School.
I spoke with Jackson’s father, Randy Jackson, on Wednesday evening after those predictions had hit the news wire. When asked why Ohio State was chosen as the final destination spot, the elder Jackson said those predictions may have been placed due to the virtual visit Domani and his family had with the Buckeyes last week.
“Ohio State came with a full-court press, led by Ryan Day,” Randy Jackson said. “Coach (Kerry) Coombs was the one actually leading it, (Mickey Marotti) was there. They had someone talking about academics as well.”
Domani previously called the virtual visit “eye-opening” to him, and it helped reinforce a lot of the things Ohio State has to offer. However, Randy says that virtual visit does not necessarily mean a commitment is coming around the corner. The phrase of the day was “due diligence.”
But with only virtual visits to go off of, that makes getting a full feel for the school and program that much harder.
“I wouldn’t say it’s close to being wrapped up,” Jackson said. “Like I said, he has to go through the process. … When I say going through the process and doing your due diligence, the one thing I don’t like is when I see someone commit and then decommit. When somebody commits, I feel they should be 100 percent committed. You should have done your due diligence and then you would not have had to decommit.
“I see a lot of kids committing to a university and then once they get there, they’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t like it here.’ Then, you’re decommitting. I just want him to make sure everything’s a good fit – you have a good relationship with the coaches, you actually go there, you can see yourself actually going to school there. I don’t think a virtual tour would be able to give you that type of feeling.”
Therefore, Randy is hopeful that Domani and the family will be able to make a few visits to Columbus at some point over the next couple of months. A visit is already planned for Michigan on Nov. 14 when the Wolverines host Wiscosin (as it’s been with any recruits visiting Ohio State, of course, they won’t be able to step foot in the facilities).
Randy says there are no other visits planned as of right now, and though Ohio State’s staff has encouraged them to try and visit when they get the opportunity, nothing is planned. He did say, however, that if something comes up and they have the chance to visit Columbus, they "more than likely will go."
When Randy said previously that Ohio State put the “full-court press” on Domani, it comes back to something we have talked about plenty of times in previous Hurry-Ups. Ohio State is one of the most aggressive programs in the country when it comes to recruiting, and when it identities a player it loves, it goes after him with full force.
That brigade includes Al Washington and is led by Day and Coombs, whom the Jackson family has really been getting to know since the beginning of September when communication with the Buckeyes’ new defensive coordinator really picked up.
“He’s been communicating. He’s very transparent,” Randy said. “I think he’s a very passionate coach. He has a lot of desire to get the type of player that he wants.”
Domani Jackson Instagram Bio... pic.twitter.com/GsQj7Lsli0— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) October 29, 2020
Jackson’s parents are both Ohio natives, born and raised in Youngstown before Randy moved to Southern California when he joined the Marine Corps. That eventually led to a move to State College, Pennsylvania, where Domani began his football career, then four years living in Hawaii and then back to SoCal (you could say they went went back back to Cali Cali) where they live now.
The Ohio connections remain strong for the Jacksons, as the majority of the family on Domani’s mom’s and dad’s side still live in the Buckeye State. That’s playing a not-so-small part in his recruitment.
Importance of peer recruiting
Arguably the biggest factor in why the Buckeyes have this sudden jolt of momentum on the recruiting trail is the work of C.J. Hicks and Dasan McCullough, the two 2022 commits who have been at the forefront of peer recruiting in the class.
On Thursday, Day was asked about how vital peer recruiting is when building a class, and the essence of his message was something we've long said – a lot of times it can be even more crucial than the coaches' recruitment, and it's become even more imperative during the dead period.
“It's huge, and I think that because of 2020, there's the Zooms and the FaceTimes, Microsoft Teams, Skype, there's just so many ways to communicate now that that's really been big, more than ever before,” Day said. “Group type of stuff that's gone on has been really strong, and that's why when you recruit guys in your class, you wanna bring in leaders, guys of high character so that they bring those types of guys in there because they spend more time with the recruits than we do. I think that's really, really important.
“I think Mark Pantoni and his staff have done a great job of doing that. And this time, even though there hasn't been as much time to recruit, that's what Mark's paid for, man. That's his job. He does a great job at it, and I'm proud of the way that, even during this time when we haven't had face-to-face contact with people, we're still connecting with recruits. That's a tribute to the whole staff, Mark's staff. So we've just gotta stay on top of that and keep it going.”
Pryor receives All-American jersey
As for 2021 class news, North Carolina four-star running back Evan Pryor was the latest Ohio State commit in the cycle to receive his All-American Bowl jersey in a virtual presentation on Wednesday night.
“It really means a lot to me to be a part of this game,” Pryor said in the presentation (starts at 7:44). “I would like to thank my coaches, family and friends for helping me along the way to get to this point.”
Pryor is one of the fastest running backs in the 2021 class, and his ability as a home-run threat combines with an ability to eat up yards between the tackles.
“There might be a couple backs out there with more yards, more productivity than Evan Pryor. I don’t think there’s many with better film,” 247Sports analyst Barton Simmons said in his analysis. “Turn it on, and he shows tremendous burst. He’s got great long speed. He’s 10.8 100-meter guy, and that’s verified. He can play in space, he can catch the ball out of the backfield really effectively, but he’s also got a compact build and he’s physical. I think he’s capable of both running between the tackles, being an every-down back, getting a heavy workload but also playing in space, being a home run hitter. I think whatever you’re looking for in a running back, Evan Pryor can provide it.”
Header photo: Domani Jackson – Gerard Martinez/247Sports