Dotting the ‘Eyes: Emptying the Ohio State notebook from Oregon
Portland, Ore. – We’re live at The Opening, Nike football’s recruiting showcase talking about the most important storylines affecting Big Ten teams and the players they’re chasing. Join us nightly from Nike’s world headquarters for the news and notes about your favorite school and their recruiting efforts.
Tyjon Lindsey will visit for Friday Night Lights
Ohio State fans got some good news Sunday night about 5-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey.
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) July 11, 2016
The country’s fourth-ranked wide receiver was a star at The Opening, earning All-Tournament honors for his work on Team Alpha Pro. He told Landof10 on Thursday that he was “50/50” about a visit, but received the news on Sunday that he’d be making the trip.
“I’m 100-percent going,” Lindsey, walking out of Nike’s facilities alongside Trevon Grimes, said. “I just found out today. Got the plane ticket and everything.”
The nation’s 28th-ranked player continues to express interest in schools outside of Ohio State and Nebraska – he’s visiting Alabama and Auburn next weekend – but after a busy week with 10 Buckeyes commitments and now the visit for Friday Night Lights locked in, things are once again trending in a good direction for Ohio State.
Lindsey will make his college choice on August 22.
Buckeyes interested in untangling Webb?
The names Ohio State is recruiting at wide receiver – Lindsey, Trevon Grimes, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Jaylen Harris, etc. – have been pretty well-established at this point but that doesn’t mean they’re the only names the Buckeyes are paying attention to.
After big performances in Oregon, it would not be a surprise to see the Buckeyes start looking a little closer at two wide receivers who really stood out among their peers at The Opening.
Hawkins (Los Angeles) 5-star prospect Joseph Lewis earned a number of mentions from defensive backs I talked to as the premier wideout at the event and he was named specifically by Ohio State commitment Tate Martell as a player he’s interested in playing alongside. Lewis has visited Notre Dame, Nebraska and Michigan in recent months and certainly isn’t reluctant to leave the West Coast if it came down to the right opportunity. He’s the country’s second-ranked wide receiver and one the Buckeyes have already begun building a relationship with, though that is still in its infancy.
On Sunday, though, it was Warminster (Pa.) standout Mark Webb that really began to stand out. Buckeyes commitment Marcus Williamson believed Webb was the best wideout at the event and the 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect was definitely impressive. As of now, there’ve been no conversations between the two sides but there’s no doubt Webb caught Ohio State’s eye this weekend. Will that mean they offer or give chase? I’m not sure of that yet, but the country’s 15th-ranked wide receiver – who is leaning to Georgia over Penn State according to sources in Oregon – can play and the Buckeyes are paying attention now.
Martell’s letter shows maturity and weight of expectations
On Monday morning, as he got back to Las Vegas for Bishop Gorman’s first practice of the 2016 football season, Ohio State commit Tate Martell took to Twitter to open up about the weekend in Oregon.
— Tate Martell (@TheTateMartell) July 11, 2016
The letter is long, but worth a read if you want to get into what makes a player – and competitor – like Martell click. After one bad outing on Saturday evening, Martell – who hasn’t lost a game in high school and hadn’t lost a game in over a year on the 7-on-7 circuit – took it hard and it affected his Sunday performance.
“One game I didn’t play up to my own expectations and it demoralized me,” Martell wrote. “I went to sleep with a bad attitude and no confidence … I’ve always put so much weight on my own shoulders to try and carry the team but in reality we can’t do it by ourselves at the next level.”
Martell’s Sunday at The Opening was not good enough for what’s come to expect of himself, that’s obvious. However – as he stated – the value of these events is to learn how to lose and how to get better, and it seems he will gain something positive from that.
Another potential Buckeye, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) wide receiver Trevon Grimes struggled to see the ball as much he wanted to Sunday and it threw him off his game. He argued with fans and parents and his opponents, letting them in his head. For a 5-star prospect who hasn’t really ever been challenged in his career, it was painfully obvious to see there are some lessons he’s learning too.
“That’s part of what comes along with all of this,” Grimes’ mother, Leah, told Landof10. “Learning how to deal with adversity when things don’t go as you want. (They’re) good lessons overall. It’s only going to get more competitive from here on out, but he is smart. He will figure it out.”
After the event was over, I saw the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Grimes and the smile and personality that has made him such a personable and approachable prospect was back and fully-charged.
“I know I shouldn’t have let it get to me,” Grimes shared. “But I’m good. I just compete as hard as I can and I got frustrated, but I’m good.”
Wyatt Davis’ family working to bring in others
The newest Ohio State commitment – California’s Wyatt Davis – may have had the best week of any future Buckeyes player at The Opening but he wasn’t the only one doing work.
Davis’ mother (Inge) and his father, Duane, were both very active in Oregon getting themselves acquainted with anyone and everyone that they could, at least those interested in Ohio State, most especially the mother of 5-star defensive end Chase Young.
The bonds between parents – who are truly the only people who can understand the toll that recruiting at that “level” can put on a family – has been a key cog in Ohio State’s recent success. The mother’s of JT Barrett, Eli Apple, Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Jamarco Jones, Noah Brown, Stephen Collier and others have become the best of friends and have been huge in helping each other – and their sons – get through the challenges that are faced in an environment like Ohio State.
Shaun Wade’s situation
One of the week’s most interesting stories is the continued chase of Shaun Wade, the Buckeyes long-time 5-star commitment from Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy by Ohio State, Alabama and Florida.
While the debate seems to mostly focus on the Buckeyes and the Crimson Tide, Florida hasn’t gone away and the Gators are working hard to try and impress upon Wade that anything Ohio State and Alabama has, he can get just one hour away from home in Gainesville. He’ll visit Florida in August with both of his parents and it’s that relationship they’ll hope to use to sway him.
“It’s really for my parents, to be honest,” Wade said. “I’ve been to Florida plenty of times. My mom and dad want to see what type of people the coaches are. Just how they act and how they treat them. Education is also big for my parents.”
Wade, the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and No. 13 overall prospect, said his parents have no preference on where he attends college.
“They don’t really care what school I go to,” Wade said. “Florida is only an hour away, so that helps a little bit with them. But they’re letting me make my own decision.”
As for Bama, there’s no doubt that the Crimson Tide are confident they’ll flip the Buckeyes commitment. The country’s second-ranked cornerback has a lot of family in Montgomery, Ala. and his mother’s ties to the area are strong. According to one source close to Ohio State, though, Bama isn’t the only place that’s confident.
“Ohio State is confident, too,” the source said. “Shaun seems like he’s all Buckeyes, but Mom is Bama. Dad actually wants him at a higher-level academic school I’ve been told.”
Wade told Landof10 that he’s gotten to the point right now that he’s just trying to take it easy. He’s been on the road almost non-stop since school ended between basketball and football camps and combines.
“I’m just tired,” Wade said. “I’m ready to get home. I’ve not seen my home in like two weeks. This week I go back to Atlanta and then I’ve got to go to Las Vegas for basketball, too.”
He will not return to Ohio State until November, though whether he’s going to be in attendance for the Nebraska game or the Michigan game is up in the air. The goal is simple: give the Buckeyes the last visit before he finalizes a decision. He will visit Notre Dame, Michigan is “begging” for him to visit and he’ll see a West Coast school as well.
There’s a long way to November and it seems that Shaun Wade’s recruitment will continue to be the rollercoaster ride for Buckeyes fans to pay attention.
LeCounte coming for Friday Night Lights?
Take this one with a grain of salt, but Hinesville (Ga.) 4-star Richard LeCounte, the country’s second-ranked safety and 37th-ranked overall prospect, told Landof10 on Sunday night that he plans to visit Ohio State for Friday Night Lights.
“I’m going to go,” LeCounte said. “I’m going to stay with Raekwon [McMillan].”
LeCounte previously mentioned that he’d be visiting Ohio State officially this fall – for their early-November home game against Nebraska – but it’s hard to get too excited about it if you’re a Buckeyes fan. He’s as solid in his commitment (he’s been pledged to Georgia since December) as any player in the country and has been the single-biggest builder of the Bulldogs second-ranked recruiting class.
Still, in the world of recruiting and coaching changes and random acts of insanity, anything can happen and it’s good to get the best players on campus if they want to be there. As far as Friday Night Lights goes? I do believe that LeCounte would like to go, but I’d be surprised if it ends up happening.
Final thoughts from The Opening
On Sunday night, I teamed up with Dawgnation.com’s Jeff Sentell and SECCountry’s Chris Kirschner for a final rundown of things from Oregon. We talked about the players who impressed us the most, what our biggest takeaways were and what we’re looking at down the line.
Give it a look, will you?