The Hurry-Up: Tim Walton and Perry Eliano Have Both Had Contact with AJ Harris and His Family, Keith Sampson Jr. Puts Ohio State in His Top Five

By Garrick Hodge on January 17, 2022 at 5:30 pm
AJ Harris

In Thursday’s Hurry-Up, we broke down the impact Kerry Coombs’ departure would have on Ohio State’s top cornerback target in 2023, AJ Harris, when he learned the former Buckeyes defensive coordinator would not return in 2022. 

AJ’s father, Daniel Harris, was notably upset that newly hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles had not yet reached out to the Harris family despite being in Columbus for more than a week. While a recruiting dead period was in effect in that timeframe, that only prevented in-person visits, as college coaches were still allowed to call, text or email 2023 recruits. Instead, Knowles was assisting Ryan Day in hiring two new secondary coaches: cornerbacks coach Tim Walton and safeties coach Perry Eliano.

After they were officially hired on Friday, Eliano and Walton reached out to the Harris family over the weekend. Eliano contacted AJ directly. Walton – who is from Columbus, Georgia, just five minutes away from AJ’s hometown of Phenix City, Alabama – spoke with AJ’s family. While Daniel said both new hires made a positive impression, he stressed there’s still a lot of work to be done on their end in the relationship-building process. 

“Good guys, and deserving guys,” Daniel Harris said of the hires. “I’ve told them I’ve done my homework on you all, but AJ’s relationship with coach Coombs is real so they really need to be playing catch up trying to develop a rapport with AJ.” 

Eliano told the Harris family the new hires cannot officially hit the road until Wednesday to visit recruits, but they are planning to visit AJ in Alabama in the near future. Since AJ has pushed his original commitment date back from Jan. 11 and has not determined a new one, there’s time for Ohio State to make up ground with Harris. But it’s going to be an uphill battle.  

Harris is ranked as the 18th-best player and the third-best cornerback in the 2023 cycle, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. 

Sampson includes OSU in top five

One of Ohio State’s top targets on the defensive line in 2023 released a top-five list on Saturday. Four-star defensive lineman Keith Sampson Jr. has narrowed his recruitment down to Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina State. 

A North Carolina resident, Sampson camped at Ohio State last June and attended the Penn State game on Oct. 30. Shortly after that trip in October, Sampson Jr. told Eleven Warriors Ohio State was at the top of his list. 

“They were all saying I was the type of person that they wanted at their school and my film looked really good this year,” Sampson Jr. said in October. 

Sampson Jr. is ranked as the 206th-best player and the 30th-ranked defensive lineman in the 2023 cycle. Recruiting North Carolina has yielded positive results for Ohio State in recent recruiting cycles, as the Buckeyes landed a recruit from the Tar Heel State in each of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 recruiting cycles: Jaden McKenzie, Jacolbe Cowan and Evan Pryor.

Rappleyea commits to Michigan

One of Ohio State’s tight end targets for the class of 2023 is off the board. Andrew Rappleyea, who received an offer from Ohio State in December and included the Buckeyes in his top seven a few weeks later, committed to Michigan on Sunday afternoon. 

Rappleyea is ranked as the 332nd-best prospect and the 20th-best tight end in the 2023 class. OSU already has a tight end committed in the cycle in Ty Lockwood, but hopes to add one more.

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