The Hurry-Up: Buckeyes Offer No. 1 DT James Smith, Austin Jordan Cuts List to Three, Clemson Lands Its Quarterback

By Zack Carpenter on March 3, 2021 at 6:30 pm
James Smith

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.

Buckeyes offer No. 1 DT

Ohio State has not made a true run at the nation's No. 1-ranked defensive tackle prospect since it was in a good position in the 2020 class to land Bryan Bresee. (Unless you want to count J.T. Tuimoloau as a defensive tackle in the 2021 cycle with the positional versatility he brings to the table. Leonard Taylor in 2021 and Walter Nolen in 2022 were offered by the Buckeyes, but Taylor signed with Miami and Nolen is already very unlikely to end up with Ohio State.)

Not that Larry Johnson really cares about rankings. He's constantly going after the guys he truly wants from a talent and personality perspective.

It looks like Johnson may have found both of those things, however, in his latest defensive line offer in James Smith, the No. 3 overall prospect and No. 1 DT in the 2023 class. Johnson has gotten in early on Smith in this cycle by extending an offer to the 6-foot-3, 270-pounder on Tuesday night.

The man with the nickname "Big Kong" has offers (or at least listed offers) from a dozen programs – Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M are the highlights alongside Ohio State.

Smith hails from Montgomery, Alabama's Carver High School, making him the second player in this cycle that Ohio State has extended an offer to, following an offer to the nation's No. 1 cornerback in Tony Mitchell last week. 

Again, it's rare for the Buckeyes to extend offers to Alabama players and even more rare for them to win out in a recruitment from a player residing in the state. They have never signed a high school player from Alabama, and Smith is only the fifth player Ohio State has offered from the state among the 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 cycles.

The Crimson Tide have done an excellent job keeping their in-state talent home, as to be expected, but Ohio State is dipping its toes in the water here for Mitchell and Smith – a player whose physicality and versatility to play as a 3-tech and on the edge is one item that has to be a reason Johnson and Co. value Smith so highly with an early offer. He is more of a 3-tech prospect, but Johnson loves to bring in players who can be moved around along the defensive line.

Jordan's top three

With five-star cornerback Will Johnson committing to Michigan and five-star cornerback Denver Harris recently pushing the Buckeyes out of the running for now, Ohio State's other top targets at the position have become a bit more clear.

Toriano Pride sits atop that small list, and Ryan Turner is a player we know that the Buckeyes absolutely love and are hoping to bring into their 2022 class.

But do not count out Austin Jordan, a four-star prospect out of Texas powerhouse Ryan High School. Jordan, the No. 173 overall player and No. 21 cornerback in the cycle, provided a recruiting update to us on Wednesday afternoon, narrowing his list down to three schools.

None of the schools in that trio is a surprise as Ohio State finds itself pitted against Oklahoma and Texas for the Lone Star State's 28th-ranked prospect.

We believe the Buckeye staff likes Pride and Turner as cornerback prospects a bit more than Jordan, but the 5-foot-11, 185-pounder is a burner on the outside (runs a 10.98 in the 100 meters) who can keep up with top-level receivers. He faces some of the state of Texas' best competition, and he has the length to be a good cover guy at the next level.

This is a recruitment, however, that probably won't see much movement to the Buckeyes until the dead period is lifted, and that won't happen until at least June 1. Jordan has never visited Ohio State, and he probably needs some more in-person evaluation before he becomes a no-doubt Buckeye prospect. Jordan is absolutely worth keeping an eye on, though, as Ohio State searches for at least one more cornerback in this class for a total of three (and that number could possibly push to four, but three is likelier at this point).

Clemson lands its QB

Dabo Swinney's program has had a formula that's been working for the last several cycles when it comes to how it cycles quarterback recruiting.

Stud-developmental guy-stud-developmental guy.

Clemson is back at it again, as the Tigers landed their man on Tuesday night, and the quarterback dominoes continue to fall.

Cade Klubnik, the nation's No. 74 overall player and No. 5 pro-style quarterback, announced his commitment to Clemson just four days after he was extended an offer. That comes after newly minted five-star quarterback Ty Simpson committed to Alabama on Friday after Simpson had been considered a Clemson lean for a while.

This affects the Buckeyes in the fact that their own five-star quarterback, Quinn Ewers, is even further solidified to his Ohio State pledge. (Though he wasn't going anywhere, anyway.)

Texas has its own five-star quarterback in the fold in Maalik Murphy, and with Clemson and Alabama each getting their guy, it's another piece of evidence that Ewers is fully locked into Ohio State. (If that profile picture of the Buckeyes' hat on the deer head didn't do it for you.)

As another fun fact, Klubnik's recruitment picked up last fall when his Westlake (Austin) program defeated Ewers' Southlake Carroll team in the Texas 6A-Division I state championship game. Klubnik finished 18-of-20 for 221 yards and a score (plus 90 yards rushing and two touchdowns) while Ewers went 23-of-39 for 351 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.

We can only hope the two will meet again in 2021 for a rematch between the two likely future College Football Playoff opponents. Maybe Ewers will get his revenge in Round 2 over Klubnik in the same way Justin Fields got his over Trevor Lawrence in the Sugar Bowl.

Header photo: James Smith – Jason Caldwell/247Sports

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