The Hurry-Up: Reaction from 15 Recruits That Attended Ohio State's Win over Michigan State, Five-star 2026 Safety Zelus Hicks and '25 OL Jayvon McFadden Earn OSU Offers

By Garrick Hodge on November 13, 2023 at 7:30 am
Faheem Delane

Ohio State had a large contingent of recruits on hand Saturday for the team's primetime matchup with Michigan State, with more than 40 visitors in attendance.

The Buckeyes put on a show in front of the prospective targets, dominating the Spartans 38-3. 

Eleven Warriors caught up with 15 recruits who attended the game Saturday and asked about their experience on their visit. Their reactions can be found below.

  • Four-star 2024 linebacker Garrett Stover: "I felt the team played great all around and I love how even with some players hurt, guys stepped up and really played well. They are the best team in the country I believe and it showed why they are last night. Just gotta keep it rolling, I’m excited to come back next week. The atmosphere was great like always, best damn fans in the land."
  • Five-star 2025 offensive tackle Micah DeBose: “It was a great visit, and it has made Ohio State one of my top schools. They’re just boosting their value.” 
  • Four-star 2025 safety Faheem Delane: “Buckeyeland brings the juice. Coach (Perry) Eliano said that they need me, and that I would be coming in to play.”
  • Four-star 2025 linebacker Tarvos Alford: “The visit was great. It was pretty much everything I expected it to be. It was great getting my family up there for the first time. They really enjoyed it. The atmosphere was great. I didn’t see an empty seat. Every time they made a play, the crowd got loud. It was crazy. I caught up with coach Jim Knowles, coach Ryan Day, coach James Laurinaitis and coach Tony Alford. They were telling me how I could come in and make an impact right away and they’d push me when I got there.” 
  • Four-star 2025 wide receiver Phillip Bell: “My Ohio State visit was amazing. The game atmosphere was great. I loved the environment and how the fans are really engaged with everything. The team played great. The offense had an incredible first half and showed what they can do over these next few weeks. The coaches let me know that I’m a priority and that they really want me there. Coach Hartline talked a lot about being different and I know that he can develop me into the best me.”
  • Four-star 2025 wide receiver Vernell Brown: “The atmosphere was great! It was a packed house and they put on a clinic vs. Michigan State. When talking to the coaches, they told me I was a priority in the 2025 class.
  • Four-star defensive back Trey McNutt: “I had a great experience. It was my first night game there, and it was dope. They dominated that game and the atmosphere was fun. I spoke to coach Eliano and coach Tim Walton. It was good seeing them. The defense was on top of it like always.”
  • Four-star defensive end London Merritt: “OSU continues to impress me. I really like what they are doing there! The team looks like they are ready to win a (championship). It was an electric atmosphere with a packed stadium. I spoke with coach Day and coach (Larry) Johnson and we discussed how my season was going and my defensive play. We also talked about me playing as an edge rusher for them.”
  • Four-star 2025 tight end Emaree Winston: “Cade Stover going 7-of-7 for them in the first half is crazy.”
  • Three-star 2025 linebacker Grant Beerman: “The visit was awesome. I have been to a couple of OSU games, but it is obviously a different experience being able to be on the sidelines and meeting with the coaches! This was also my first night game at The Shoe, which was really cool.  I had a chance to talk with coach Knowles, Laurinaitis and (Sam) McGrath.  We spoke about my playoff win this last weekend and my play during the season. The conversations were on the sidelines and pretty quick but they said we would be catching up soon. The atmosphere is always great at The Shoe. This game was even better as I had a chance to watch Lakota West's Malik Hartford get the start.” 
  • Five-star 2026 safety Zelus Hicks: "The visit was great one of the best I’ve been on. The atmosphere was incredible and the team played great the freshman safety came up and played good."
  • Four-star 2026 offensive lineman Tyler Merrill: “I had a great time, I got to talk to coach Justin Frye for a little and it was a bit chilly out but it was cool to see the Buckeyes come out with a win. I definitely enjoyed the atmosphere just around Columbus and the facilities, staff, and stadium.”
  • 2026 quarterback Briggs Cherry: “The visit was great. Had good conversations with coach Corey Dennis and coach Todd Fitch. The atmosphere was electric and as a recruit, that is what you dream of playing in. The outcome of the game was as expected. Kyle McCord played an almost perfect game. Always good to see another QB succeed.”
  • 2026 cornerback Elbert Hill: "The visit was amazing and the atmosphere was crazy. I had an amazing time and they played great."
  • 2026 linebacker Cam Thomas: “I feel like the Buckeyes were locked in and definitely wanted to show that they were the number one team in the country currently. They came out focused and made quick work of Michigan State. On my visit, I was able to catch up with coach Hartline, coach Knowles, coach Johnson, coach Laurinaitis and coach McGrath. They all asked about our current playoff run and how I felt about it. They seemed happy that I was back on campus for another visit. It was my first night game in The Shoe. The atmosphere was crazy, especially with the new uniforms. Seeing Marvin Harrison in person and witnessing his Heisman moment was pretty cool as well.”

Ohio State offers Hicks, McFadden

Ohio State also offered two prospects over the weekend, including three-star 2025 offensive lineman Jayvon McFadden and five-star 2026 safety Zelus Hicks

McFadden, who was offered by Justin Frye, is considered the 350th-ranked prospect and the 18th-ranked interior offensive lineman in the 2025 class per 247Sports’ composite rankings. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Maryland prospect currently holds more than 25 Division I offers, including Boston College, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, SMU, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Hicks, offered by Perry Eliano, is ranked the 32nd-best prospect and third-best safety in the 2026 class. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Georgia prospect holds 20 Division I offers, including Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Liberty, Louisville, LSU, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and UCF.

So far this season, Hicks has recorded 43 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.

Watkins decommits from Colorado

One of the best wideouts in the 2025 class is back on the market. 

Four-star Florida wide receiver Winston Watkins decommitted from Colorado on Sunday and plans to re-engage with other schools. Watkins, ranked the 74th-best player and 13-best wideout in 2025, received an Ohio State offer in June of 2022.

“It felt great. It felt like all the hard work I did paid off,” Watkins said last year of getting the offer. “It was definitely a top school for me in my recruitment and I’m just very appreciative of the offer.”

Ghea commits to Auburn

An Ohio State tight end target is off the board in the 2025 class. Four-star Georgia tight end Ryan Ghea committed to Auburn on Sunday, opting to stay in the south. 

While Ghea held an Ohio State offer, the Buckeyes are focused on different targets, including Nate Roberts, Emaree Winston and Eli Owens.

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