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.
Hicks has Sawyer, McCord to thank for peer recruiting success
As we all know, Ohio State’s 2021 class is ridiculously loaded with talent from top to bottom. With J.T. Tuimoloau and Raesjon Davis still in the fray as potential commitments – Davis possibly during February’s National Signing Day and Tuimoloau in February or beyond – the Buckeyes already have the No. 3-ranked class in program history.
That would jump to No. 2 all-time in Ohio State history and No. 10 in college football history (316.85 points) if Tuimoloau signs and would jump to No. 1 in Ohio State history and No. 5 in college football history (320.62 points) if both he and Davis sign.
Every recruiting class starts somewhere, but it’s still hard to believe looking back on all of this that it all began with Jack Sawyer in February 2019. Or maybe it’s not. He is a five-star who was ranked in the top-three overall in America at the time of his commitment, after all.
But I’m still not sure we could have seen all of this coming. Sawyer has himself to thank for a lot of that.
He is going to go down as one of the best peer recruiters in program history. I’m not sure how you quantify that, but it doesn’t really matter. He just is. Simple as that.
“He kind of took a page out of me and Kyle’s (McCord) book with how we recruit guys. He can thank me a little bit for teaching him how to recruit.”– Jack Sawyer on c.j. hicks learning to be a peer recruiter
When we spoke with Sawyer a few days prior to him officially signing his name to Ohio State in December, we talked about that a bit. He laughed when harkening back to his days as a peer recruiter (days that obviously aren’t quite over yet with the aforementioned Tuimoloau and Davis still out there) and how he was the leader of bringing this class together.
And then we brought up the name of a guy who is continually challenging Sawyer for peer recruiting supremacy (if that’s a thing) in 2022 commit and obvious eventual Cincinnati flip C.J. Hicks.
Sawyer said it’s been great to see what Hicks has been doing in the 2022 cycle and that’s there’s been no trash talk back and forth between them about who will have eventually secured the higher-ranked class.
“I love it. I love how they’re building that class. He’s doing a great job,” Sawyer said.
But Sawyer did have a bit of a message for him.
“He kind of took a page out of me and Kyle’s (McCord) book with how we recruit guys. He can thank me a little bit for teaching him how to recruit,” he said with a laugh. “But no, they’re doing a great job. I think he saw how our class was building, and then he took it on his shoulders to build his class too. I think we’re definitely setting a great tradition with early commits and how to recruit and get other guys committed with us. It’s definitely a passing of the torch thing. They’re doing a great job and super excited about that class.”
Sawyer actually gave Hicks some advice about being a peer recruiter early on in the process.
“Just talking to him about how he’s gotta take it on his shoulders and build a class of guys that he wants to play with that are the best in the country,” Sawyer said. “And he’s done a phenomenal job with it. He kind of saw how we do it over Twitter and stuff like that, too, so that’s what I mean by taking a page out of me and Kyle’s book.”
When McCord was told by us what Sawyer said, the five-star quarterback signee couldn’t help but side with his fellow 2021 Buckeye.
“I’d be in agreeance with Jack there,” McCord said. “I think me and him being committed so early really helped us build the 2021 class up nicely and got us some key pieces. I think C.J.’s definitely taken some notes from that, and he’s trying to do the same thing with his class. I think it’s fun, the competition we have between the two classes on Twitter and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, it’s all going to the same spot so that’s definitely gonna be a scary sight.”
Hicks has his class currently ranked No. 1 in the country with 225.91 points. Andrew and I’s class predictions from last month have Hicks and Co. eventually securing either the No. 1 class in Ohio State history (Andrew) or No. 2 (me). So, looking not too shabby as we stand today. And, of course, we can’t get out of here without mentioning Hicks’ partner in crime on the recruiting trail in Dasan McCullough, who has been just as instrumental in helping to bring the class together as Hicks.
Both had some confident words to say publicly on Friday.
Jackson trending further toward USC
With Jackson having locked in a Jan. 23 commitment date, he already knows where he wants to go to school it appears, and it looks increasingly like that will be the Trojans with a bevy of Crystal Balls floating in today for him to stay in SoCal.
No raiding of OSU staff
Dan covered this earlier today, but it bears repeating in a recruiting piece – Mickey Marrotti and Mark Pantoni, Urban Meyer said, will not be joining him in Jacksonville.
During his introductory press conference as the Jaguars' new coach on Friday, Meyer confirmed he will not be bringing Ohio State director of sports performance Mickey Marotti or director of player personnel Mark Pantoni with him to Jacksonville and that he will not be bringing a multitude of staffers from the Buckeyes to the Jaguars.
“There might be one” staffer from Ohio State joining him in Jacksonville, Meyer said, but he gave Ryan Day and Gene Smith his word that he would not break apart the Buckeyes' infrastructure.
“I talked to Gene and I talked to Coach Day, and you know my affection for both of those guys and the great university that we represented, and I won’t do that,” Meyer said. “Does that mean there might be one? Maybe. I’m not there yet. But I told Gene, ‘Yeah, Coach Marotti, Pantoni, the whole crew’s leaving,’ and they’re like ‘What?’ No, that’s the best infrastructure in college sports, so no, they will not be leaving.
“There might be one, like I said, that will leave, but I am not gonna do that to that organization. And I’m not sure they would go. Ohio State is home to those guys now.”
Keeping the infrastructure led by those two is of monumental importance for the long-term future of Ohio State. Either or both would be a massive loss. Would the program be crushed or destroyed if either or both of them left? No. That’s hyperbole. But it would put a huge weight on Ryan Day and Gene Smith’s shoulders of who to hire in their place. A weight was put on their shoulders already with the departure of Ryan Stamper to the Jaguars, but losing Pantoni could have had a major impact on recruiting while losing Marotti could have had a major impact on player development.
It looks like Buckeye fans are safe from having to imagine such a scenario.