The Hurry-Up: Five-Star OT Zach Rice Includes Ohio State on Top-Five List, Damari Alston May Reclassify

By Zack Carpenter on March 22, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Zach Rice

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.

Rice releases top five

First came Aamil Wagner, then Kiyaunta Goodwin. And now, Zach Rice.

Just two days after Wagner dropped a top six that features the Buckeyes and Goodwin dished out his own top five with Ohio State included, Rice became the third high-priority offensive tackle target to release a final schools list over the weekend. And it features some of the same programs as Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame, North Carolina and Virginia line the five-star prospect's final list:

Rice, the No. 21 overall player and No. 1 offensive tackle in America's 2022 class, will wind up competing with Goodwin for the No. 1 OT prospect in this cycle when it's all said and done. And it appears the two are competing to see who will wind up in the Buckeyes' signing class as the OT gem of the group.

I think we're most likely looking at a one-two tackle tandem of Wagner and Goodwin in Ohio State's class (with Tegra Tshabola increasingly looking like he will be a guard down the road), and perhaps another guy like Tyler Booker out of IMG (Florida) Academy. As mentioned before, it's imperative for the NCAA to lift the dead period when it comes to Ohio State's offensive tackle targets, especially when it comes to Goodwin.

Right now, I'm inclined to believe that the pick would be Kentucky (even if that's a bit surprising from the outside looking in) because of how much Goodwin values relationships. That is the staff he is the closest with because he's been able to meet many of them in person. If official visits are allowed this summer, I love the Buckeyes' chances there. Until that happens, though, they are playing from behind.

Speaking of playing from behind, let's get back to Rice here.

I'm not high on Ohio State's odds of landing the state of Virginia's No. 2-ranked prospect. When he discussed why the Buckeyes made that list with 247Sports' Brian Dohn, he mentioned a similar top factor that Goodwin has talked about with us in the past – his relationship with Greg Studrawa:

"Ohio State made it because I have a good relationship with coach Stud," Rice said. "I would say I've always been strong with them.”

Rice also mentioned Ryan Day and Kerry Coombs as two coaches who have made a big impact on him.

Ever since being offered by Ohio State last April, Rice has had a high view of the program.

“The success, the rich history and the offensive linemen who have come out of there,” Rice told us previously of what makes it stand out. “And it’s just a really different atmosphere, and I truly want to be with the best. The No. 1 running back in the nation, (TreVeyon Henderson), is going there, and I just feel like (Studrawa) wasn’t trying to pump my head up like, ‘Oh, you’re so good.’ He was honest, like, ‘We don’t offer that many people, but then again you have to work for everything you have.’

“He said, ‘Obviously you’re good, and obviously you’re gonna get more offers.’ But Ohio State is honestly just different. He was just telling me that it’s not all about football, and some people believe that. He wants to build a relationship, and it’s more than just football.”

With all of those factors in mind, and the fact that Rice is carving out one of his five official visits to Ohio State, you can't count the Buckeyes out. Just think a lot still needs to be done here before they could overcome North Carolina or Alabama.

Alston considering reclassifying

Ohio State, Florida and Florida State (in some order), with Notre Dame lurking, are the top programs at the top of the list for four-star Woodward Academy (Georgia) running back Damari Alston.

But a new and unique pitch from Auburn has the Tigers becoming an increasingly more intriguing program that Alston is seriously considering.

Alston told 247Sports' Keith Niebuhr that Tigers running backs coach Cadillac Williams, the former Auburn star and top-five NFL draft pick, has spoken with Alston at length about possibly reclassifying from the 2022 class to 2021:

“He said I could opt out my senior season and actually play for them in the fall,” Alston said. “All I’d have to do is take my last English class in the summer. My school doesn’t normally let people graduate early but they’re sitting down and talking about it this Thursday. “

Alston, the No. 27 recruit in the state of Georgia for the industry generated 247Sports Composite, is intrigued by this potential option.

“I’m considering it a lot,” Alston said. “I’ve talked to my mom. She thinks it’s a good idea but we’d need to think about it. That’s big opportunity if I can be playing for Auburn in the fall. Cadillac said he needs to complete his running back room. What he’s saying is he really wants me and Tank (Bigsby) carrying the load.”

We saw how that played out in North Carolina's recruitment of five-star Tony Grimes and how that proved a major role in the Tar Heels getting the No. 1 cornerback in the 2021 class to reclassify and sign to the 2020 class.

And one major school went that route in the recruitment of Buckeyes 2021 five-star running back signee TreVeyon Henderson, who told Eleven Warriors in the summer of that possibility and that he had looked into reclassifying to 2020 to play for Ohio State last fall. He ultimately, of course, decided not to go that route.

It remains an intriguing opportunity for Alston, however, and we'll see if he decides to further explore that option. Could give Auburn a big leg-up here as those other three programs are playing with the lead.

Singleton sets Michigan OV

Alston and the Buckeyes' other two major running back targets in 2022, Nicholas Singleton and Dallan Hayden, are a trio we've talked about extensively.

No further updates on them as of right now except for the fact that Singleton has scheduled a third official visit with a third Big Ten team.

Singleton is already scheduled to visit Wisconsin on June 4 and Penn State on June 11, and over the weekend he announced plans to make an official visit to Michigan on June 25.

A mid-July decision is the goal for Singleton, and that could be when we see some running back dominoes fall with Hayden also setting up official visits to Notre Dame (June 11) and Ohio State (June 18) with Alston preparing to set up his own official visits to schools in the near future as well.

Header photo: Zach Rice – Don Callahan/247Sports

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