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 plans OU, UF visits, appears to be trending away
In covering recruiting or monitoring it as a reader, we're always told to pay attention to what a recruit is doing and not what he's saying.
With that being the case, it's certainly continuing to appear that five-star Robinson Secondary (Virginia) offensive tackle Tristan Leigh is trending away from the Buckeyes.
As he announced on Twitter on Thursday night, Leigh and his younger brother, 2023 offensive lineman Aidan Leigh, will be visiting Oklahoma this weekend in conjunction with five-star receiver Emeka Egbuka's first-ever visit to Norman.
Norman, OK— Emeka Egbuka (@emeka_egbuka) December 4, 2020
As it turns out, the Leighs' visit to Oklahoma came about in a last-minute fashion, as it wasn't put into motion until Thursday afternoon, reports 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong:
“He literally called me yesterday afternoon and said is there anyway I can go,” Leigh's mother, Laura (Rigney), told 247Sports. “The boys got on a plane at 6 am. He really wants his dad to see the area.”
In addition to his Oklahoma visit, Leigh's mother told Wiltfong that they are planning on taking a trip to Gainesville next weekend to get one last look at the Gators before a January 2 decision date. Florida, it's certainly noteworthy to point out, isn't in Leigh's final five of Oklahoma, Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Alabama.
However, despite these two upcoming visits either in motion right now (Oklahoma) or planned out (Florida), I was told that the Leighs don't have a visit to Ohio State planned over the next few weeks, and there's only one weekend (December 19-20) that looks like it's still on the table for a possible visit with Christmas coming the following weekend. So it's not looking great for Ohio State if a return visit to Columbus is something that Leigh needs before going into decision mode.
If Leigh doesn't wind up in the class, I'm very interested to see if an offer pops up for Massillon Washington (Ohio) three-star offensive tackle Terrence Rankl. Ohio's 22nd-ranked prospect, Rankl has been committed to Pittsburgh since April, but it's definitely worth monitoring over the next couple weeks to see if the Buckeyes come calling.
If they don't offer Rankl or any other prospect very soon, we can likely bank on them sticking with the triumvirate of Donovan Jackson, Ben Christman and Zen Michalski in the 2021 class and gunning for some big fish in a 2022 class headlined by Zach Rice, Kiyaunta Goodwin and Kam Dewberry.
Give Hicks his fifth star
I love telling this story because it's a perfect example of the real-time growth that these athletes that Ohio State is recruiting undergo over the course of their high school careers.
C.J. Hicks was one of the first players I interviewed when I started this job back in September. I always tell people that it's not like he looked like a pencil or that he was completely shy, but the sophomore – who was originally ranked as a five-star prospect and then subsequently was sent down into the 160s overall as a four-star guy – didn't yet have the physique of a highly recruited linebacker prospect, and he wasn't the most talkative or outgoing.
When I went to visit him this summer, which was the first time I saw him in person since September 2019, he looked like a completely different athlete. He had gained about 15 pounds, getting up to 220 pounds, by putting in a ton of work in the gym and a protein-heavy diet.
And in speaking with him, it was clear that he grown confidence, too, and he's taken that to a whole 'nother level by becoming the Buckeyes' peer recruiting leader in the 2022 class.
And if the video posted to Twitter this afternoon is any indication, it looks like we could be in for even more growth from Hicks by this time next year.
Hicks has ascended his way back from that listing as the No. 117 overall composite prospect (and No. 162, per 247Sports) that he dropped to in July, getting back to No. 71, then No. 53 and No. 35 overall in the latest rankings.
He is the highest-rated four-star prospect in America's 2022 class, as all 34 players in front of him are composite five-star prospects. He is the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the country, right behind fellow Buckeye commit Gabe Powers, the No. 1-ranked outside linebacker.
Soon enough, it'll be time to give Hicks his fifth star.
Oh, and to reiterate our stance from earlier this week, Hicks won't be flipping to Cincinnati.
Im a Buckeye stop the rumors.— CJ Hicks (@imcjhicks) December 4, 2020
But you didn't need to see a tweet to know that. Those rumors carry about as much weight as the TreVeyon Henderson flip to Oklahoma rumors.