The Hurry-Up: What Brian Kelly Leaving Notre Dame for LSU Could Mean for Ohio State, Buckeyes Hand Out Three New Offers

By Garrick Hodge on November 30, 2021 at 5:35 pm
Carnell Tate
Carnell Tate

What a week, right?

Sources close to the situation have said it’s only Tuesday, but the start of the coaching carousel has been a wild one, with Lincoln Riley headed to USC and now Brian Kelly bolting Notre Dame for LSU, which will lead to even more big changes to the college football landscape.

Kelly’s move to the South came as a shock, seeing as he’s spent his entire coaching career in the Midwest and was at Notre Dame for more than a decade, never mind that his team may earn a berth in the College Football Playoff if things break right this weekend. 

But his departure could have significant recruiting implications for the Fighting Irish and for other schools vying for the same recruits.

Where Ohio State is concerned, there’s one uncommitted prospect that jumps to the forefront of the list when thinking about who this could impact: 2023 four-star wideout Carnell Tate. Tate is high on both the Fighting Irish and the Buckeyes, and seemingly was caught off guard by Kelly’s departure. 

Nevertheless, Tate’s relationship with Notre Dame seemed to stem more from offensive coordinator Tommy Rees than it did Kelly himself, with Rees visiting Tate on numerous occasions. Whether Rees remains at Notre Dame with a new head coach could influence whether Tate heads to South Bend. 

Tate is a recruit who seems very adept at playing the recruiting game and likely won’t rush to make a decision in wake of the news. Tate is still considering other schools as well, as he just visited Tennessee last weekend. Regardless, Kelly’s departure from Notre Dame is an opportunity Ohio State and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline could capitalize on. 

Another recruit who could be impacted by Kelly’s exit from Notre Dame is 2023 offensive lineman target Luke Montgomery. Actually, if Notre Dame had its way, Montgomery would be a defensive lineman at the next level. But nevertheless, Montgomery has been very high on the Fighting Irish, and the feeling has been mutual on Notre Dame’s end.

Ohio State is still the likeliest frontrunner for Montgomery’s services, considering the in-state product visited OSU this fall three separate times. Notre Dame staying in the race for Montgomery may be dependent on whether current defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman stays in place or is elevated to head coach, since Freeman has played a big role in recruiting Montgomery.

It will also be interesting to see if OSU re-enters the race for 2023 four-star Notre Dame defensive end commit Brenan Vernon. Vernon, a Mentor, Ohio resident, was recruited by Freeman, and if Freeman is elevated to head coach, it’s probably not likely the 60th-rated player in the 2023 class would have desire to go elsewhere. But Ohio State could get right back in the mix if Freeman goes elsewhere and/or Vernon decides to reopen his recruitment.

Four-star 2022 safety Xavier Nwankpa has been trending away from Notre Dame in recent weeks, with his decision expected to come down to Ohio State and Iowa, but Kelly’s departure isn’t likely to help the Fighting Irish’s chances there.

Nwankpa, who will commit on Dec. 8, seems to be leaning toward Iowa with about a week left before his decision, but it still wouldn’t be surprising to see him pick the Buckeyes. 

There could also be transfer portal ramifications, as Oklahoma players are entering their names in the portal left and right after Lincoln Riley’s departure. Lorenzo Styles, a freshman wide receiver for Notre Dame and the brother of five-star 2023 OSU safety commit Sonny Styles, posted a tweet shortly after the news broke Monday evening expressing shock at Kelly’s departure. The younger Styles quote tweeted it and hinted “Styles and Styles in Columbus, what y’all think?” but deleted the tweet shortly after.

That was probably just Sonny having a bit of fun with OSU fans taking it a bit literally, but this is what can happen when high-profile recruits tweet. 

With Riley’s move on Sunday and Kelly’s move on Monday, at this rate, we’ll have another coaching change to discuss by the time Wednesday’s Hurry-Up rolls around.

Washington receives OSU offer

Faced with an unexpected open week, Ohio State coaches have been getting out on the recruiting trail this week and doling out offers in the process. After offering 2023 North Carolina running back Daylan Smothers early in the day Monday, OSU also extended a scholarship opportunity to 2023 four-star defensive lineman A’mauri Washington in the evening. 

Washington is ranked as the 85th-best player and the 15th-best defensive lineman in the 2023 cycle, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He’s played both defensive end and defensive tackle for Chandler High School (Chandler, Arizona). If that school sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same high school as 2022 OSU wide receiver commit Kyion Grayes. Grayes was excited to see his prep teammate receive an offer from the Buckeyes. 

Washington has 13 Division I offers, a sheet that includes Michigan, Texas A&M, Oregon, Iowa State and Florida State. In nine games this season, Washington has racked up six sacks and three quarterback hurries to go along with 39 tackles (12 for loss). 

Flores Jr. picks up Buckeyes offer

Ohio State stayed busy on the recruiting trail Tuesday, offering 2023 four-star California wide receiver Rico Flores Jr. 

Flores Jr. has 26 Division I offers, including offers from Alabama, USC, Texas, Oregon and Notre Dame. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound wideout is ranked as the 173rd-best player and the 24th-best wide receiver in the 2023 cycle.

In 13 games this season for Folsom High School (Folsom, California), Flores Jr. caught 64 passes for 932 yards and 11 touchdowns, both team-highs. He is the high school teammate of fellow Ohio State target Walker Lyons, a 2023 tight end. 

Culliver nabs OSU offer

After visiting Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ Oct. 30 game against Penn State, 2023 wide receiver Chris Culliver was told by Ohio State assistants Kevin Wilson and Brian Hartline that they liked what they saw from the North Carolina product’s film and that they would soon be in touch. He only had to wait a month to hear from OSU again. 

Culliver also received an offer from Ohio State after the Buckeyes visited his high school on Tuesday. The 6-foot-3, 174-pound Culliver, who attended an Ohio State camp in June, is rated as a three-star recruit and does not yet have a composite ranking.

Culliver has 13 Division I offers, including Kentucky, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and North Carolina. In 13 games this season for Maiden High School (Maiden, North Carolina), Culliver had 60 receptions for 1,215 yards (20.5 yards per catch) and hauled in 23 touchdowns.

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