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.
Jeremy Ruckert commits to Ohio State, now what?
Ohio State has its tight end. The country’s top-ranked tight end per 247Sports, Jeremy Ruckert, committed to the Buckeyes on Monday afternoon.
In Ruckert, the Buckeyes not only are getting a 6-foot-6, 240-pound monster (according to Jaiden Woodbey) at tight end, but their top target at the position for much of the last year. Occasionally in recruiting, we focus so heavily on the rankings and stars that we forget this one fact: a program’s recruiting board isn’t the same as the rankings. Sure, sometimes it lines up that way, but not generally. In 2013, Ohio State had the country’s seventh-ranked tailback prioritized ahead of the No. 1-ranked player at running back. Fans were confused and concerned.
And yet Ezekiel Elliott was certainly a better choice for Ohio State than Derrick Green.
Last summer, Ruckert was one of two tight ends on campus for Friday Night Lights. At the time, the other — Zack Kuntz — was ranked as the No. 1 player in the country at the position and a 5-star prospect. Ohio State was focused on that pair and had Ruckert higher on its personal board then, a feeling that was validated following the camp that night.
So what now for Ohio State? Early in the process, the “plan” was to take two tight ends, but that has changed in favor of taking more versatile players. Jaelen Gill is a running back who can play some wide receiver, L’Christian Smith is a wide receiver who could end up playing some tight end. Versatility is key, especially on a roster that now — for the first time since head coach Urban Meyer arrived — has actual wide receivers playing wideout.
Bottom line, to land Ruckert means the country’s top-ranked recruiting class got much, much better.
So … did Emory Jones visit Alabama or not?
Recruiting is never more enjoyable than when trying to keep up with the daily comings and goings of a teenager that lives 1,000 miles away from you.
Case in point: Sunday night, I received a text message from a friend who covers Alabama football recruiting. The message was asking me if 2018 Ohio State quarterback commit Emory Jones camped at Alabama on Sunday afternoon. Jones had not made any public plans to visit Tuscaloosa but he has told me in the past that he absolutely intends to visit schools when he can, taking advantage of this unique opportunity in his life to be recruited and travel a bit.
When I asked Jones on Sunday night if he had made a visit to Bama, he said he did not. Rather, he said, he attended a training session but did not visit any schools. On Monday, though, very reputable folks in the recruiting industry began to buzz about that potential visit, stating unequivocally — and in one confirming through three different sources — that Jones was at ‘Bama on Sunday where he camped, and “looked good.”
Whether or not he visited Alabama is now — and always — less relevant than whether he told the Ohio State coaching staff he did. Jones has a bit more leverage than most commitments do when it comes to his relationship with the Buckeyes because his position is so specialized and the odds are low that Ohio State can quickly move on from him or replace him with an equal, or better, player. However, having “power” in the relationship doesn’t give someone carte blanche to abuse it. You’d imagine that the particulars of Jones’ visits would be cleared up this weekend in Columbus if he attends Friday Night Lights with the Buckeyes.
However, he told Land of 10 that he’s not entirely sure yet if he’ll be in town.
“I’m not sure if I am coming yet,” he said when asked what day he planned to arrive in Columbus.
It’s too early to do any sort of panicking if you’re rooting for Jones to sign with the Buckeyes, but certainly it’d be better for both sides of that relationship to have a direct conversation about where things stand.
Chris Holtmann loses top in-state target
It’s been an up-and-down summer for new Ohio State basketball coach Chris Holtmann on the recruiting trail.
He was able to sway 2017 prospect Kyle Young to come to Columbus for college rather than head to Butler. The Buckeyes also landed 247Sports 4-star wing player Musa Jallow, who re-classified to 2017 and will be eligible to suit up for Holtmann this fall.
However, last month both Justin Ahrens and Dane Goodwin de-committed from Ohio State, the latter recently choosing Notre Dame. That pair of Ohio prospects joined Darius Bazley on the “not going to be a Buckeye train” — Bazley earlier this month committed to Syracuse after his own de-commitment started the landslide that led to Thad Matta’s ouster.
With Ahrens, Bazley and Goodwin off the board, Holtmann reshuffled the deck in Ohio and began to focus heavily on Pickerington North’s Jerome Hunter, hoping to make him the centerpiece of a rebuilt 2018 class. That plan hit a snag on Monday when Hunter committed to Indiana instead. About 10 days after landing Jallow — from Bloomington — Ohio State loses Hunter — from Columbus — to Indiana. Recruiting is nothing if not hilarious, right?
Hunter picking Indiana means that Ohio’s second-ranked player in 2018 will also leave the state. Half of the state’s Top 10 players in 2018 — including the top three — have committed, but none to Ohio State. So what do the Buckeyes do now?
Combination guard Dwayne Cohill, the state’s fourth-ranked player, is set to make a college decision sometime soon. He holds an Ohio State offer and the Cleveland star has a 247Sports Crystal Ball that is heavily slanted in the Buckeyes’ direction. If he doesn’t pick Ohio State, there will likely be some panic about where things go from here, but it’s clear that Holtmann and his staff need time to make inroads in Ohio And they are being very aggressive in doing that. Unfortunately timelines in basketball recruiting aren’t what they are in football, where players routinely wait until the final recruiting whistle to make a decision.