The Opening: Wednesday Big Ten recruiting notebook talks Buckeyes, Spartans, Wolverines
Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes, and for a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Martell has up and down day at The Opening
BEAVERTON, Ore. – Ohio State commitment Tate Martell is one of just a handful of quarterbacks selected for Nike’s The Opening and as such, he’s one of the country’s best quarterbacks. The country’s premier recruiting event of the summer brings out the best from all over the nation and stacks them up side-by-side, providing a unique opportunity for each player to see exactly where his game excels or falls short.
On Tuesday, Martell struggled a little bit initially, but as the weather warmed up, so did the 4-star quarterback from Bishop Gorman. While Martell is here to compete, there’s no doubt that he’s got a bigger purpose: recruiting for Ohio State.
Tate Martell told me he has been with Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey non-stop since they arrived at @TheOpening yesterday.
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) July 6, 2016
With two of his top targets – 5-star wide receivers Tyjon Lindsey and Trevon Grimes – on his 7-on-7 team this week, there will be no shortage of opportunity to talk about the Buckeyes.
Related: Trevon Grimes says his connection with the Buckeyes is ‘tighter than ever”
“With Tyjon and Trevon, I’m working them right now,” Martell told Landof10. “They’ve been around me the whole day. I think we’re in a good spot to get them.”
Martell is close friends with Lindsey, but he’s working on his relationship with Grimes.
“We’ve become pretty good friends,” he said of Grimes. “We were in each other’s rooms, with Tyjon, all three of us hanging out. It’s good for us, and hopefully it ends up working out. I think it will, but I’m always biased towards Ohio State.”
Is Hunter Echols worth watching for the Buckeyes?
If there’s a name you may not have heard of before that bears some watching this week with Ohio State, it may be 4-star UCLA defensive end commitment Hunter Echols.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Echols has been committed to the Bruins since February, but he recently visited Notre Dame and Michigan, signaling that there may be an opening for another school to make its way into his recruitment. Ohio State could very well be one of those schools who try, especially if by some chance they lose out on 5-star defensive end Chase Young to Maryland or Alabama.
“I’m thinking hard about the Buckeyes,” Echols told Landof10. “I’ve always been a fan of Ohio State, just from growing up watching football, playing for them would be awesome.”
To this point, most of the communication about the Buckeyes has been handled on the peer level rather than through any Ohio State coaches, though that’s something likely to change.
“I haven’t had that much conversation with them,” he said. “I’ve talked to Mark Pantoni a little. Guys like Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett talk to me about Ohio State a lot.”
Echols will arrive in Oregon for The Opening on Wednesday night and Landof10 will work to have more conversation with him about his Big Ten interest soon.
Ohio tight end Matt Dotson will make his college decision Thursday
The country’s ninth-ranked tight end, Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) 4-star prospect Matt Dotson will announce his college decision on Thursday, deciding between Penn State and Michigan State. Dotson’s mind is made up, but his choice remains a secret, even to those closest to him in Oregon, guys like Penn State commitment Sean Clifford, who has grown up with Dotson in The Queen City.
Clifford is optimistic that friendship can help sway him towards Penn State.
“Dotson has made up his mind. I know he has,” Clifford told SEC Country. “He won’t tell me, which is fair. I’m fully with him, whatever he decides. We’ve been friends forever…He knows what we could be, and I’ve pitched it to him. Hopefully, he decides to join me.”
Dotson has offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Auburn and others but has narrowed down his focus to the Nittany Lions and Spartans in the last few months, visiting each multiple times this spring and early summer.
Right now, the betting money is on the Spartans – who hold 90-percent of the 247Sports.com crystal ball predictions – but it’s hard to count out Penn State thanks to his ties to Clifford.
Donovan Peoples-Jones update
Though he’s still considering Ohio State, Michigan State and others, the vibe out here in Oregon around Detroit 5-star wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones feels very much like a two-team race as of today between Michigan and Florida. While the majority believe the proximity to home will help the Wolverines, Peoples-Jones insists he’s going to look for the best spot for him no matter where that is.
From Zach Abolverdi of SECCountry.com:
“It doesn’t help them,” he said. “Distance doesn’t matter at all. I’m going wherever I feel most comfortable and the place that can help me the most as a student-athlete. I care about academics and competing with the best.”
McCaffrey struggles a bit, but it’s a good day for Michigan anyway
Michigan 5-star quarterback commitment Dylan McCaffrey was on-hand in Oregon today alongside Martell and the rest of the Elite 11 crew and, like Martell, had a little bit of an inconsistent day.
Though he struggled a little bit with his accuracy early, McCaffrey still showed nice touch and good footwork. He’s got a big frame and will grow into his body, but there was a little hesitancy in his effort today and that was unexpected. McCaffrey is the country’s top-ranked pro-style quarterback but didn’t look like it today, but I’d expect him to bounce back big-time on Thursday.
Away from Oregon, the Wolverines had a good day. Jim Harbaugh’s program added its third offensive line commitment in the last three weeks when American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale) 4-star guard Kai-Leon Herbert, the country’s 166th-ranked overall prospect, committed to Michigan over Florida, Miami and others.
Herbert joins Andrew Stueber and Joel Honigford as future linemen to commit to Tim Drevno in the last month.
Unless otherwise noted, all rankings come courtesy of 247Sports.com.