The Hurry-Up: Ohio State Recruits React to Thursday Night's Game with Minnesota, IMG Academy Plays in Ohio Again

By Garrick Hodge on September 3, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Malik Bryant
Malik Bryant

By now, you don’t need me to tell you Ohio State is 1-0. If you do, welcome to your first time on Eleven Warriors, I guess.

The Buckeyes and Gophers opened their season as the premier matchup of Thursday night’s slate of college football games, and numerous Ohio State recruits were paying attention. 

Two athletes already committed to OSU, Bennett Christian in 2022 and Ty Lockwood in 2023, started by wishing their future team luck. 

Other recruits who took to Twitter to show support for the Buckeyes included priority 2022 offensive line target Kam Dewberry and Richard Young, the highest-ranked running back in the class of 2023. Having five-star linebacker Malik Bryant and four-star cornerback Christian Grey endorse you on social media ain’t bad, either.

Also of note: 2023 defensive back target Moussa Kane, who has not yet received an Ohio State offer, told Eleven Warriors he received a text from OSU coaches Thursday morning before the game, telling him “to get his popcorn ready for Thursday night.” Kane previously told Eleven Warriors that Ryan Day told him in late July that the Buckeyes would offer him if they liked what they saw in the first few games of his junior season.

Now that the first game is out of the way, the Buckeyes will prep for their home opener against Oregon on Sept. 11. The list of recruits projected to be in attendance is a massive one, and arguably one of the biggest recruiting weekends Ohio State will have this fall. We’ll have more updates next week on which recruits are likely to make their way to Columbus next Saturday. 

IMG Academy in Ohio again

The Florida-based national powerhouse IMG Academy is invading Ohio again, and this time, it’s going to play a real school, with classes and everything. It will also feature a much better matchup. (In fairness, it can’t get much worse than last weekend’s 58-0 blowout that led to Bishop Sycamore’s coach getting fired for reasons that have nothing to do with on-field results). 

The No. 2-ranked prep team in America according to MaxPreps, IMG Academy (2-0) plays La Salle (2-0) on Friday in Cincinnati. IMG Academy has six uncommitted players with Ohio State offers: Bryant, Dominick James (defensive tackle in 2022 class), Carnell Tate (wide receiver in 2023 class), Joenel Aguero (safety, 2023), James Smith (defensive line, 2023) and Stacy Gage (running back, 2024).

La Salle is no slouch itself, boasting a possible state championship contending roster in Ohio, but it is ranked the eighth-best team in its state while IMG Academy is ranked as the second-best team in the country and boasts Power 5 talent at nearly every position. 

La Salle's roster is highlighted by running back Gi'Bran Payne, Ohio State's sixth-best prospect in the 2022 class, who is committed to Indiana. 

Ryan Day said in his weekly radio interview Tuesday that OSU coaches would finally hit the road to attend some high school games this week following Thursday night's season opener. Seeing as IMG Academy boasts OSU’s top wide receiver target for 2023 and he happens to be playing less than two hours away, it would be a very good bet that Brian Hartline makes the trip to La Salle to connect with Tate about a month before his Oct. 8 commitment date. 

Nwankpa, Fitzpatrick wished well by OSU

Ohio State 2022 commit George Fitzpatrick and 2022 target Xavier Nwankpa received special good luck messages ahead of their respective contests Friday night. 

Nwankpa, a safety, is coming off a dominating performance from Southeast Polk (Des Moines, Iowa) last week where he had an interception and two receiving touchdowns, including a game winning Hail Mary catch, to defeat the second-ranked team in the state. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Nwankpa is rated as the 45th-best overall prospect and the third-best safety nationally by 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick is trying to lead Cherry Creek (Englewood, Colorado) to a third straight state championship and a third straight undefeated season. The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Fitzpatrick is rated as the No. 318 overall player and the 29th-best tackle in the country.

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