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.
Michigan loses another 4-star defensive tackle, so could it impact Tufele?
In Monday night’s edition of Dotting the ‘Eyes, we talked about Springfield, Ohio 2018 athlete Leonard Taylor, who decommitted from Michigan earlier that evening. The 2018 4-star re-opening his recruitment was not the worst thing that happened to Michigan recruiting on Monday though, as 2017 4-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, a top 100 prospect, also informed the world he was leaving the Wolverines commitment list.
First and foremost, the “reason” Solomon decommitted, at least his official explanation, is one part hilarious and one part face-palm. Let’s dissect that now. Here’s Solomon’s tweet.
God Bless ? pic.twitter.com/Uub9inc0Da
— Aubrey Solomon (@AubreySolomon91) August 22, 2016
Here’s the rest of the story, from Kipp Adams at 247Sports.com:
“A day or two ago, they sent my mom a card thanking us for going to the Michigan bbq, but we never went,” Solomon said. “I do not know which recruit they were talking to, but it was not me. It was just a little heartbreaking, for me to supposedly be so high on their list, for them to confuse me with someone else. Plus they spelled both of my names wrong after I told them, but that was not the main issue. I guess they do not have tabs on me.”
Reality check: If Aubrey Solomon was not already considering a decommitment from Michigan, he would not have re-opened his recruitment because of a clerical error, so let’s get that out in the open. He verballed to Jim Harbaugh’s program during a mid-June visit and it was a surprise when he did, especially since he made the decision without his mother — an important part of his process — being present. The Lee County (Leesburg, Ga.) defensive tackle picked the Wolverines on his first visit to the school and over schools like Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Ohio State, and no one really expected his pledge to stick through signing day. So, while the timing was a surprise and explanation is a wee embarrassing for Michigan, it’s hardly something that caught them entirely off-guard.
Now, because we talk about Ohio State stuff here, here’s how that could impact the Buckeyes.
Ohio State has two top 15 defensive tackles — Haskell Garrett (No. 4) and Jerron Cage (No. 11) — committed for 2017. They’d like one more. They’d like that to be Jay Tufele, who is the country’s third-ranked defensive tackle.
Michigan had three defensive tackles committed. Solomon (No. 5), Phillip Paea (No. 35) and James Hudson (No. 12 as a strongside defensive end, though they are recruiting him as a tackle). They were still recruiting Jay Tufele as well, presumably with the idea to take a fourth at the position or to move someone else out if the South Jordan (Utah) 4-star decided to join them.
Now Ohio State and Michigan — both of whom Tufele lists in his top three and both of whom he’ll visit officially this fall — will be attacking that recruitment from a different position. Can Michigan sell him on being the guy in their group while convincing him that he’d simply be a guy at Ohio State?
Speaking of defensive tackles, is Jerron Cage going to visit Notre Dame officially?
In early July, we talked about Cincinnati (Winton Woods) 4-star Jerron Cage and the status of his commitment with Ohio State.
Although it appears that things are all set on the Cage front, there’s still some speculation that eventually Notre Dame might be a player in his recruitment. There’s a good chance he’ll visit South Bend this summer – his brother is a redshirt sophomore for the Irish – and he’s also likely to take an official visit to Notre Dame this fall.
On Monday night, Blue & Gold Illustrated, Notre Dame’s site on the Rivals’ network, reported that Cage will take that official.
— Corey Bodden (@BGI_CoreyBodden) August 23, 2016
So, while it’s not really news, it is news, right? For his part, Cage has not confirmed that the visit is on, but there’s no doubt he’ll visit South Bend for game or two because his brother will play a key role for the Irish this fall.
Cage has been very upfront with Ohio State about his intentions and says he’s still solidly committed to the Buckeyes, but as numbers tighten it could be interesting to see how Urban Meyer’s program handles multiple visits to Notre Dame, family ties or otherwise.
Cam Akers superlatives and reasonable expectations
We talk about Clinton, Miss., 5-star running back Cam Akers a lot around these parts and there’s a pretty good reason for that — he’s really good at football. Akers is viewed by some as, potentially, the best player ever from Mississippi and the hyperbole around the country’s second-ranked 2017 tailback is getting even crazier than that.
From Rick Cleveland of Mississippi.org, who was on hand for Akers’ five touchdown outburst last Thursday night in Batesville.
These eyes saw Walter Payton play at Columbia High School. These eyes saw Marcus Dupree play at Philadelphia. They saw Jerious Norwood play at Brandon, Deuce McAllister at Morton and Jimmy Johns at Brookhaven.
But these eyes have never seen a better Mississippi high school football player than Cam Akers, Clinton’s 17-year-old wunderkind, whom I saw in person for the first time here Thursday night.
Wow. Walter Payton? Marcus Dupree? Deuce McCallister? We’re talk about a guy many regard as the best running back in history, another guy who was one of the most hyped recruits in history, and a guy who went on to play in two Pro Bowls in the NFL. That’s some rare air. Cleveland continued.
As with all the truly great ones, the numbers, gaudy as they are, do not paint the complete picture. Akers runs with the power of Payton and the speed and shiftiness of Norwood, which is probably why so many college recruiters and all the recruiting services project him as a running back. Often times, he doesn’t even acknowledge the first guy that hits him. He just just runs through the would-be tackler without so much as a hitch or pause. And then, when he gets in the open field, he dodges defenders off their feet. And here’s the kicker: He can really, really throw it. He throws a tight spiral. He can, in the vernacular, spin it. And he can spin it on the run.
At what point do have to lower expectations for players in this position? If you go back over the last 10 recruiting classes and look at the running backs who earned that coveted 5-star distinction, you’ll find a number of guys that were just flat out misses.
- 2007: Joe McKnight (USC), Marc Tyler (USC), Noel Devine (WVU)
- 2008: Darrell Scott (Colorado), Jermie Calhoun (Oklahoma), Richard Samuel (Georgia)
- 2009: Bryce Brown (Tennessee), Trent Richardson (Bama), Christine Michael (Texas A&M)
- 2010: Michael Dyer (Auburn), Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina), Lache Seastrunk (Oregon)
- 2011: Isaiah Crowell (Georgia), Brandon Williams (Oklahoma), Malcolm Brown (Texas), DeAnthony Thomas (Oregon), Savon Brown (Rutgers)
- 2012: Johnathan Gray (Texas), Keith Marshall (Georgia), Trey Williams (Texas A&M), Duke Johnson (Miami), TJ Yeldon (Bama), Rushell Shell (Pitt)
- 2013: Thomas Tyner (Oregon), Kelvin Taylor (Florida), Keith Ford (Oklahoma), Derrick Green (Michigan)
- 2014: Leonard Fournette (LSU), Dalvin Cook (Florida State), Sony Michel (Georgia), Joe Mixon (Oklahoma), Roc Thomas (Auburn), Nick Chubb (Georgia)
- 2015: Damien Harris (Bama), Soso Jamabo (UCLA)
- 2016: Miles Sanders (Penn State)
Look at those names and you’re likely going to be surprised at the glaring lack of NFL stars that emerged from it, yet they were all 5-star prospects. There is never a shortage of expectations placed on these young players, but at what point does it go from a realistic to incredulous?
Can Akers, even if he goes to an All-Conference career in college ever live up to the hype being built around him?
Samuel and Bonitto next from St. Thomas Aquinas?
In their 2015 recruiting class, Ohio State signed Damon Arnette, a defensive back from Fort Lauderdale powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas, who is now emerging as a serious contender for playing time as a redshirt freshman with the Buckeyes.
In 2016, Urban Meyer’s program brought in 5-star defensive lineman Nick Bosa from St. Thomas Aquinas. Monday, 5-star wide receiver Trevon Grimes, the country’s third-ranked wide receiver out of St. Thomas Aquinas, committed to the Buckeyes as the 17th member of their 2017 class.
It stands to reason that — at some point — Ohio State will go back to that Fort Lauderdale well and there are two players emerging from the Raiders program that could bear watching — defensive end Nik Bonitto and defensive back Asante Samuel, Jr. Bonitto is the country’s 74th-ranked prospect and third-ranked defensive end.
“Ohio State and Auburn are really starting to look right for me,” Bonitto told Scout.com’s Corey Bender last week. “I’ve been watching them the last couple years. (With Ohio State) it’s the D-line. You can tell they’ve been coached well, you know? Nick (Bosa) has told me great things about the D-line coach and he’s been telling me, like, all about Ohio State and it just looks like a place I’d want to be.”
Samuel, the son of the former NFL cornerback by the same name, is the country’s 16th-ranked cornerback and 111th-ranked overall prospect. He has been telling a number of people that he wants to take a closer look at the Buckeyes. The relationships that Samuel and Bonitto have with Bosa and Grimes are playing a major role in the interest being expressed by the 2018 pair. This tweet from Samuel on Monday is a pretty good confirmation of that.
— Asante Samuel Ⓜ️ (@godschild3_) August 22, 2016
A pair of in-state schools — Florida with Bonitto and Florida State for Samuel — are the primary schools to watch but this duo gets up to Columbus for an unofficial visit this fall then things could accelerate. Samuel has mentioned wanting to visit for the Buckeyes late November home against Michigan, a trip he says he’d make with Grimes, and Bonitto said he “definitely” wants to get to Columbus, so it’s clear the discussions about a potential reunion at Ohio State are underway.
Alabama linebacker wants to hear from the Buckeyes
Ohio State is hotter than any school in the country on the recruiting trail right now and they’re capturing the attention of players from all over the country.
The nation’s 22nd-ranked linebacker, Madison (Ala.) 3-star Monty Rice, told Landof10.com that’s interested in hearing from the Buckeyes.
“I’ve got about 20 offers,” Rice said. “I’m trying to get on their radar. I just like them.”
A 6-foot-1, 227-pound inside linebacker, Rice lists offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, and a host of other SEC schools but he says he’s interested in getting to see schools outside of the traditional Southeastern footprint.
“I used to like, only want to play in the SEC, but then I thought about it and wanted to explore other options,” he said. “I’m looking for a place with a good defense and good education with good coaches. A team that knows how to win. I’m hoping to start talking to some of (Ohio State’s) coaches.”