Dotting the ‘Eyes: Hunter Echols wants offer from Ohio State, Tyreke Smith won’t camp at FNL and more
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.
Hunter Echols still hoping for Buckeyes offer
Last Wednesday, Los Angeles (Cathedral) 4-star defensive end Hunter Echols told Landof10.com that he was excited about the chance to get to hear from the Buckeyes.
“I’m thinking hard about the Buckeyes,” Echols said. “I’ve always been a fan of Ohio State, just from growing up watching football. Playing for them would be awesome.”
Now, days removed from The Opening, where he had a chance to be around 10 different Buckeyes commitments, Echols is saying much of the same.
“I talked to a lot of their guys out there,” Echols told Landof10 on Thursday. “They were just telling me that they want me to get offered so we can ramp this recruitment up.”
Echols, the country’s sixth-ranked defensive end, said that right now, as the Ohio State coaches are getting back from their dead-period-inspired vacations, he’s hoping that offer will come.
“Their coaches have been on break,” he said. “Mark Pantoni says just wait. I love what they have going on over there and hopefully I can be a part of it.”
As for The Opening itself, Echols thought he handled himself pretty well in Beaverton.
“I battled out there,” the 6-foot-4, 230-pound UCLA commitment said. “I’m not 100-percent because I have a strained groin, so my speed wasn’t all the way there. Still, I battled those big guys. I lost reps and I won reps, so overall I think I did pretty well.”
Tyreke Smith won’t be at Friday Night Lights
One of the top 2018 prospects in Ohio will not be at Ohio State for Friday Night Lights next weekend but he’ll be back on campus shortly thereafter.
“No, I won’t be at Friday Night Lights,” Cleveland Heights defensive end Tyreke Smith told Landof10. “I have a basketball tournament. I will be there to visit on July 31, though.”
Smith has 11 scholarship offers, including Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers and Maryland, and says he’s staying in regular contact with Ohio State and that they’re being upfront with him about what they need from him before they consider extending an offer his direction.
“I’ve been talking a lot with (running back coach) Tony Aflord,” Smith said. “We’re talking every couple weeks. He said they want to see me a few more times, they want me to learn the game a bit more.”
Smith hasn’t played organized football since the 7th-grade, so he says he’s completely fine with the Buckeyes asking him to develop a bit more into an athletic football player rather than an athlete playing football.
“I’m cool with them not offering,” he said. “I mean, with me not playing since the 7th grade? I understand and I’m just going to keep working harder.”
Bama commit talks, Buckeyes don’t care
Much to the chagrin of Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) 4-star linebacker VanDarius Cowan, the Buckeyes are still the country’s top-ranked 2017 recruiting class.
That’s a fact, at least according to every single recruiting network.
What is not a fact, though, is Cowan’s personal hot take on Alabama’s recruiting class – where he’s been committed since April – versus Ohio State’s. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Cowan was very eager to share his subjective point of view on how the Crimson Tide class stacks up to the Buckeyes.
“I’m not even worried about Ohio State, so don’t even ask me any questions about Ohio State,” Cowan said at The Opening, a premier camp for the nation’s top high school football players held at Nike’s world headquarters.
Why didn’t he want to hear about Ohio State? Because the Buckeyes’ class is higher-ranked than Alabama’s. Those rankings – while factual – are, of course, also subjective, but not in Cowan’s mind.
“That’s ranked off of all those stars and junk, but we’re talking about Alabama having goons and savages in this class,” Cowan said. “I’m talking about boys who want to play and give it their all. I’m telling you all of my boys that are committed are savages. We are straight dogs.”
If you’re hoping for a reaction from the Buckeyes, you won’t get it.
“I’ve got no reaction,” 5-star offensive tackle and Buckeyes commitment Josh Myers said. “No reaction at all.”
Another 5-star offensive lineman committed to Ohio State, Wyatt Davis, said that he can understand Cowan’s need to defend his future team and their current standing as the country’s third-ranked class.
“I just thought it was funny,” Davis, who definitely earned a “savage” rating at The Opening with a Top 5 finish in the Lineman Challenge, said. “It’s just competitiveness, though, so I get it.”
Bubba Bolden someone to watch?
Bubba Bolden, the country’s 10th-ranked safety and a teammate of Buckeyes commitments Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), decommitted from USC on Thursday night.
I've Decided to Decommit from USC and open up my recruiting process!!!🙏🏾
— BUBBA BOLDEN#11 (@BubbBolden) July 15, 2016
A star at The Opening last weekend, Bolden is absolutely still going to be looking at USC. They’ve been his “dream school” for some time but he wanted to get a chance to take a complete, comprehensive look at his recruitment. He committed to USC last December.
“He committed early on prior to knowing who the new coaching staff would be,” one source close to Bolden said. “He based his decision on USC being his childhood dream school but decided to step back with an unbiased eye and take a look at all his options. We will always have love for USC and Coach Helton.”
Whether or not the Buckeyes will get involved right now is up in the air, but there may be some discussion happening.
“He’s not heard from Ohio State directly,” the source said. “Indirectly there has been some chatter.”
If Urban Meyer’s program will get involved or not is up in the air, but there’s likely to be a few months to make that decision.
“It’s highly likely that Bubba will not make a decision until after his high school football season,” the source concluded. “He may not reveal his decision until signing day.”
Pledger to return to Ohio State … very soon
On Thursday, we briefly caught up with Chaminade High School (West Hills, Calif.) running back T.J. Pledger, who visited Ohio State that morning with his parents.
“It was a great visit,” Pledger told Landof10.com. “My parents were blown away. We loved the facilities and everything that Ohio State has to offer.”
How much did they love Ohio State? They’ll be back next week.
“It wasn’t the plan initially,” Pledger said. “After talking with my parents and (Ohio State running backs coach Tony) Alford, I wanted to come bad. I am going back to California and then coming back.”
The country’s seventh-ranked 2018 running back will camp at Friday Night Lights with the Buckeyes. He’s got a few other school visits he’s working to get set up but nothing else is set in stone.
“I will be at Friday Night Lights at Ohio State,” Pledger added. “I’ve got some other schools in the works, I just don’t have them finalized.”