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.
Hayden talks official visits
When Zen Michalski took his first-ever visit to Ohio State and the city of Columbus, he and his dad stopped at a pair of places to eat – first came Bareburger and then Buckeye Donuts before skipping town. We had some fun talking about that late last year. Did eating at those places lead to Michalski’s commitment to the Buckeyes? Probably not. But we can pretend, right?
Another recent visitor to the Arch City and The Oval laid out the spots he and his dad hit when they were in town earlier this month. Actually, when Eleven Warriors asked him if he stopped anywhere to eat, Dallan Hayden instantly sounded off on a quartet of places that he and his father, Aaron Hayden, stopped at during their self-guided visit on March 17.
“I ate at this breakfast place called Hang Over Easy,” said Hayden, a junior running back at Christian Brothers (Tennessee) High School. “Then I ate at a pizza spot right around Ohio State’s campus – it might’ve been Hounddog's, it was really good – and then I ate (Raising) Cane’s. Cane’s is really good. We don’t have those in Memphis. Cane’s is really good; to me it’s better than Zaxby’s. Zaxby’s is good, but Cane’s is better. Those are the three I ate at. And then on the way, I had City Barbeque. It was good.”
Did the good food in Columbus and on campus lead to a commitment from Hayden?
But, hey, it was a small part of an overall great experience for the older Hayden and the younger Hayden, both of whom lived in Columbus for a brief period.
“I knew Columbus was gonna be a great time,” Hayden said. “It was just great getting back there because I hadn’t been there in so long. I hadn’t been there since I was a baby. We used to live there. (I don’t have) many memories from there.”
That “great time” included Hayden, the nation’s No. 22 running back and No. 208 overall player, getting to see the place that he could call home one day if he so chooses.
“We had a campus tour. One of my cousin’s friends, a family friend, is a student at Ohio State. He took the time, him and his sister, to show us around the campus,” Hayden said. “It was awesome. Beautiful campus, beautiful college town, and I had a really good time. And I saw the athletics facilities from the outside because I couldn’t go inside or anything. It was really good. I was here for a day. I spent the day there and then I went to South Bend.”
That visit to Ohio State came on St. Patrick’s Day, and then he visited Notre Dame the following day.
So you didn’t visit the Fighting Irish on St. Paddys?
“I know. How ironic, right?” Hayden said with a laugh. “I was on Notre Dame’s campus. I saw all of that, and it was a pretty sweet deal being there. It was beautiful too. I’ll be curious to see more (at Ohio State and Notre Dame) on my officials.”
Following those two visits, Hayden and his father went to visit Illinois as well, stopping in to see Dallan’s older brother, Chase Hayden, a running back who recently transferred to Illinois from Arkansas. Chase was originally recruited to the Razorbacks by Bret Bielema.
One of the more important aspects of that three-school trip was whether or not there was enough to see during a self-guided tour to warrant a return visit. For the Hayden family, there certainly was, as those three programs showed enough to start moving ahead of the pack in his recruitment with Ohio State and Notre Dame jostling for position and Illinois maintaining its spot as a dark horse.
Each school will get its chance to continue leaving its mark as Hayden has scheduled official visits to Illinois (June 4-6), Notre Dame (June 11-13) and Ohio State (June 18-20).
“I’m only taking three as of right now, it’s just those three I have set up,” Hayden said. “I just feel like those are the three schools recruiting me the hardest.”
There is no decision timeline yet for Hayden until he can make those visits. So it’s basically the same situation with him and another one of the Buckeyes’ top running back targets, Nicholas Singleton, whose visits we broke down on Wednesday.
Those in-person interactions remain critical for both running backs.
“Just finally being able to meet the coaches face-to-face (is huge for me). It’s just so much more different than through a Zoom call, meeting them face-to-face,” Hayden said. “Just so it’s not all phone calls and Zooms and FaceTimes. I just know face-to-face will be better – not only for me, but me and my family to get to meet the coaches and get a better feeling for, ‘Can I see myself playing for this man? Or, are these the type of guys I feel like I’ll be happy playing for and being around?’ Those coaches (at Ohio State, Notre Dame and Illinois) are the ones who feel the most for real.”
Another 2022 DT offer
On Thursday, we broke the offer to 2022 defensive tackle Domonique Orange, a rapidly rising up-and-comer who the Buckeyes are targeting to play at either 3-tech or nose tackle.
Later on Thursday evening, Larry Johnson and Co. were back at it in dishing an offer to a low-rated 2022 defensive lineman. And they went to a familiar place to do so.
Three-star prospect Chris McClellan announced an Ohio State offer, as the Buckeyes have come calling for the nation’s No. 659 overall player, No. 48 defensive tackle and No. 10 player in the state of Oklahoma.
McClellan hails from Owasso High School, the alma mater of Ohio State’s only all-time signee out of Oklahoma, veteran safety Josh Proctor.
McClellan is the 11th DT offer in the Buckeyes’ class as they continue to zero in on the position. The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder has 30 total offers, and he’s similar to Orange in the fact that’s a fast-riser. Over the past six weeks, he has been offered by USC, Michigan, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida State and Auburn. He has official visits to USC and Florida planned in June, and we expect him to schedule an official visit to Columbus sometime this summer.
Nolen cuts list
Five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen, the No. 2 overall player in the 2022 class, has trimmed a couple of schools off his top-10 list.
The future day one starter out of Tennessee has LSU, Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, Florida, Oregon and USC up against the Buckeyes. Auburn and home state Tennessee have fallen off his list of considerations.
Nolen may wind up taking an official visit to Columbus this summer, potentially in June, but the Buckeyes are still battling from behind for him as Georgia and Alabama are two of the favorites.
Header photo: Dallan Hayden – Joe Rondone/247Sports