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.
Priority LB target Walker trims list
The most obvious and talked-about priority linebacker remaining for Ohio State to land in 2022 is five-star Virginian Shawn Murphy. There have been rumblings that Murphy may commit in November, and we are continually working to dig up what we can on the Murphy front.
Though I still believe we’re a little ways away from that happening, ever since August – when C.J. Hicks was able to build up an already-strong relationship with Murphy in-person at the Elite Underclassmen Camp – I’ve believed the Buckeyes were going to land him. The Ohio connections are strong, and his relationship with Al Washington is probably the best he has with any assistant. We’ll see if that’s enough, as Murphy may still want to take visits before making a decision.
In the meantime, another blue-chip linebacker the Buckeyes are very, very high on is North Carolina four-star Jalon Walker, a 6-foot-2, 220-pounder out of Salisbury who one person in Ohio State’s program believes is a “special” player.
Washington and Co. were able to take an extra step in Walker’s recruitment today, as the No. 41-ranked overall player and No. 2 outside linebacker in America included Ohio State on his list of final six schools, a list featuring a who's who of college football powers gunning for the talented junior.
Ohio State is searching for at least one more linebacker in the class, and it could be Murphy, who is likely to become a Mike linebacker at the next level. But with two commits (Gabe Powers and Dasan McCullough) who could wind up as defensive ends down the road depending on their body development, the Buckeyes may be seeking to land two more at the position in this class.
Walker would be a hell of an addition, as he could be tracking toward five-star status if he has a successful junior season in the spring.
Final look at Davis announcement
It’s incredible that we’re this close to the commitment of such a high-profile, high-priority recruit, and the latest Crystal Ball prediction is from all the way back in June.
But so goes the case with Pittsburgh safety Derrick Davis Jr., who has done one of the best jobs in recent history (at least since I’ve started covering recruiting a little more than a year ago) of keeping his final decision close to the vest and almost completely guarded. There have been some commitments sprout up completely out of nowhere or take plenty of people by surprise in regards to timing (see Miller, Blake and his commitment to Clemson), but that’s typically not the case when a commitment date has been etched in stone.
For months, the people I’ve spoken with in this recruitment have not had a great handle on where he’s going, and that remained the case this week. For a long time, I believed Davis’ relationship with the Penn State staff was going to win out here.
Some people try to downgrade his relationship with Terry Smith, but that shouldn’t be the case. Smith was the head coach at Davis’ Gateway High School from 2002-2012 before eventually becoming Penn State’s defensive recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach in 2014.
No, Smith has not been Davis’ head coach at any point at Gateway, but the two lived in the same neighborhood while Davis was growing up before Smith took the Nittany Lions job – “around the corner,” Davis told me in August, when he expounded more on his bond with Smith.
“Our relationship is real good,” Davis said. “We don’t have to talk about football, either. That’s one thing I like about him. That’s one thing I like about any coach, for real. If we gotta talk about only football and that’s it, I feel like that relationship isn’t really a good relationship. If we can talk about other stuff that’s going on in the world, that’s what, to me, I trust you. Everything around you don’t revolve around football. Coach Terry, he’s one of the ones that check up on my family and tell my sisters and my mom happy birthday and stuff like that. To me and to us, he’s like family.”
After Gateways 14-0 win, Derrick Davis Jr. discusses his visit to Ohio State for last weekends Buckeye Bash and his upcoming commitment, which is set for next Saturday (11/7). Hes visiting LSU this weekend and will decide between Penn State, Ohio State, LSU, Pitt and Georgia. pic.twitter.com/jqXqDbSMrH— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) October 31, 2020
Recruiting is all about comfort and relationships, so it’s my belief that his relationship with Smith would play a huge factor if he chooses Penn State.
If Ohio State lands a commitment from Davis, it will be because Matt Barnes and Co. have done their own good work in building a relationship with him, were able to convince him that the Buckeyes were the spot for him to become a first-round NFL draft pick with the way they can utilize his skillset in their scheme and were able to convince him that seven defensive backs in the same class is something that shouldn’t be an issue.
As for that last part of the equation, Davis told me previously that seven defensive backs is not an issue for him, shaking his head pretty emphatically when asked if that was a factor in his recruitment.
“That don’t bother me because at the end of the day, if I get there, I’m battling to take whoever’s spot,” Davis said. “That don’t matter to me. You can have as many DBs as you want. If I get there, my goal is to start.”
Of course, just because Davis thinks that way doesn't mean that every Ohio State defensive back in the class feels that way. That is perhaps another factor at play here, with the Buckeyes wanting to keep their six-man haul intact after taking commitments from them much earlier in the process while Davis waited things out for nearly three years after the Buckeyes' initial offer in February of 2018.
LSU has made a strong push and given the things his family has said about their recent trip to Baton Rouge, it really does appear that the Tigers have put themselves in a great place. If he chooses LSU or Ohio State over Penn State, it would be another crushing blow for James Franklin and Co. on the recruiting trail.
Here is a quick look at all of 27 commits in Ohio State’s 2021 and 2022 class and where they are playing this weekend, save for the ones who have opted out or do not have a fall season:
|Player (Class)||Team||Opponent||Day, Time (Record)|
|SDE JACK SAWYER (2021)||PICKERINGTON NORTH||SAWYER OPTED OUT|
|OG DONOVAN JACKSON||EPISCOPAL (TEXAS)||@ KINCAID||Friday, 7 p.m. (2-3)|
|RB TREVEYON HENDERSON||HOPEWELL (VA.)||SEASON PPD UNTIL SPRING|
|QB KYLE MCCORD||ST. JOSEPH'S PREP (PA.)||@ ROMAN CATHOLIC||Saturday, 7 p.m. (3-0)|
|CB JAKAILIN JOHNSON||DE SMET (MO.)||CHRISTIAN BROTHERS||Friday, 6 p.m. (3-0)|
|WR JAYDEN BALLARD||MASSILLON WASHINGTON||@ PERRY||Friday, 7 p.m. (8-1)*|
|DT MIKE HALL||STREETSBORO||SEASON FINISHED||FINAL RECORD: 8-1|
|CB JORDAN HANCOCK||NORTH GWINNETT (GA.)||PEACHTREE RIDGE||Friday, 7:30 p.m. (6-3)|
|LB REID CARRICO||IRONTON||RIDGEWOOD||Saturday, 7 p.m. (9-0)*|
|RB EVAN PRYOR||WILLIAM AMOS HOUGH (N.C.)||SEASON PPD UNTIL SPRING|
|WR MARVIN HARRISON JR.||ST. JOSEPH'S PREP (PA.)||@ ROMAN CATHOLIC||Saturday, 7 p.m. (3-0)|
|OG BEN CHRISTMAN||REVERE||SEASON FINISHED||FINAL RECORD: 4-3|
|S/CB ANDRE TURRENTINE||ENSWORTH (TENN.)||@ KNOXVILLE CATHOLIC||Friday, 7:30 p.m. (2-6)*|
|DT TYLEIK WILLIAMS||UNITY REED (VA.)||SEASON PPD UNTIL SPRING|
|ATH DENZEL BURKE||SAGUARO (ARIZ.)||@ CAMPO VERDE||Friday, 7 p.m. (3-1)|
|S JANTZEN DUNN||SOUTH WARREN (KY.)||@ NORTH HARDIN||Friday, 7 p.m. (5-0)|
|S/LB JAYLEN JOHNSON||CINCINNATI LA SALLE||@ WINTON WOODS||Friday, 7 p.m. (7-2)*|
|TE SAM HART||CHEROKEE TRAIL (CO.)||GRANDVIEW||Friday, 7 p.m. (2-2)|
|OT ZEN MICHALSKI||FLOYD CENTRAL (IND.)||SEASON FINISHED||FINAL RECORD: 7-3|
|P JESSE MIRCO||PROKICK AUSTRALIA||SIGNED WITH OHIO STATE|
|LB GABE POWERS (2022)||MARYSVILLE||SEASON FINISHED||FINAL RECORD: 6-2|
|ATH DASAN MCCULLOUGH||BLUE VALLEY NORTH (KAN.)||@ OLATHE EAST||Friday, 7 p.m. (4-2)*|
|LB C.J. HICKS||ARCHBISHOP ALTER||@ ROSS||Friday, 7 p.m. (7-2)*|
|CB JYAIRE BROWN||LAKOTA WEST||SEASON FINISHED||FINAL RECORD: 8-1|
|OT TEGRA TSHABOLA||LAKOTA WEST||SEASON FINISHED||FINAL RECORD: 8-1|
|TE BENJI GOSNELL||EAST SURRY (N.C.)||SEASON PPD UNTIL SPRING|
|TE BENNETT CHRISTIAN||ALLATOONA (GA.)||KELL||Friday, 7:30 p.m. (6-0)|
*Denotes playoff game
Header photo: Jalon Walker – Don Callahan/247Sports