Prep Tracker: Ohio State Coaches Hit the Scouting Trail and Caleb Downs Has a Record-Breaking Night

By Garrick Hodge on September 5, 2021 at 11:40 am
Brian Hartline
Brian Hartline

Another week of high school games brought another week of standout performances from Ohio State commits/targets worthy of being included in our Prep Tracker.

Tha said, this writeup will mostly center on which prospects OSU coaches went to see on Friday, when they were finally able to resume scouting on the road in person and attend high school games for the first time in two years. 

Day, Hartline watch Tate play

It’s no secret by now Ohio State is in heavy pursuit of IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) wideout Carnell Tate

Earlier in the week, OSU coach Ryan Day said he and his coaching staff would attend high school games in person for the first time in about two years on Friday. It should come as no surprise that both Day and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline made the trip to La Salle High School in Cincinnati to watch their top wide receiver priority target for the class of 2023. Hartline was there from start to finish, while Day arrived in the second half after stopping by C.J. “Captain Buckeye” Hicks’ game with OSU linebackers coach Al Washington.  

Tate, who had two touchdowns in two drives for IMG Academy last week in its 58-0 win over the infamous Bishop Sycamore, only had one target Friday in his team’s 58-7 win over La Salle. That target was a big one, however, as Tate hauled in a 15-yard touchdown.

It's speculated Tate’s recruitment may come down to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Notre Dame offensive coordinator Tommy Rees and wide receivers coach Del Alexander were also in attendance at La Salle on Friday to watch Tate. 

Tate told Eleven Warriors on Aug. 29 he has not yet decided on a school ahead of his Oct. 8 commitment date, and only has one visit scheduled prior to the announcement: Notre Dame on Oct. 2. He has been told by OSU coaches if he commits to the Buckeyes that they’d like him to attend their Oct. 9 game against Maryland. 

More OSU coaches hit the road

Buckeye coaches were busy Friday night one day after securing a 45-31 season opening win against Minnesota. According to Lettermen Row, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa both went to Lakota West’s game to see cornerback commit Jyaire Brown and offensive line commit Tegra Tshabola

Meanwhile, quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis was at Medina seeing Penn State commit Drew Allar. While coaches are not allowed to talk to recruits or their families while attending high school games, Dennis’ very presence at Allar’s game indicates that OSU would like to flip the state’s fourth-rated prospect, if possible, and take him as their quarterback for the 2022 class after Quinn Ewers reclassified to 2021. 

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson traveled to Indiana to watch priority 2022 defensive lineman Caden Curry and saw him blow up Carmel High School’s first play from scrimmage for a four-yard loss. Curry finished with 4.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups in Center Grove’s 41-14 victory. 

Running backs coach Tony Alford made the trek to Massillon to watch 2023 running back Willtrell Hartson, who does not yet hold an offer from OSU. Hartson picked a good time to go off, finishing with 223 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 41-22 win over Reynoldsburg. OSU’s priority running back targets for 2023 are Richard Young, Rueben Owens and Justice Haynes, but the fact Alford made the time to go see Hartson makes his recruitment worth watching. 

Downs has record-setting night

Ohio State 2023 safety target Caleb Downs is setting records left and right for Mill Creek High School (Hoschton, Georgia). In the first quarter of Mill Creek’s 35-7 win over Dacula, Downs secured an interception and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. The interception gave him 10 in his high school career, which tied a Mill Creek record, and four career pick-sixes, which is a new school record. That didn’t seem to leave the 2023 class’ NO. 40 overall prospect satisfied, though. 

In his team’s win, Downs also had a forced fumble and caught a pass on offense for 14 yards. 

The best of the rest 

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but apparently Sonny Styles is still good. He made plenty of plays in Pickerington Central’s 35-0 win over North Allegheny. 
  • OSU 2023 quarterback target Dante Moore was incredibly efficient in Detroit Martin Luther King High School’s 40-19 victory over Mona Shores, finishing 12-for-18 for 221 yards and three touchdowns.
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