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.
Alford a key to recent recruiting success
In February of 2015, there were some real questions about exactly how Ohio State would try and replace their remarkably popular running backs coach Stan Drayton, who left the Buckeyes for a job with the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Drayton had helped Urban Meyer and the Ohio State offense develop into what they are today, a power running scheme anchored by a pair of NFL draft picks, first Carlos Hyde and then Ezekiel Elliott, whom Drayton helped recruit for the Buckeyes.
So, when Drayton left just after signing day – and after being instrumental in Ohio State’s recruitment of current starter Mike Weber – there was a bit of concern.
Enter Tony Alford.
When Alford arrived in Columbus after six seasons at Notre Dame, where he served as both the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator for the Irish, he was a bit of an unknown to Ohio State fans. Not anymore, or at least he shouldn’t be. Since starting with the Buckeyes, Alford has picked up right where Drayton left off, and not just in the coaching department, either. He’s been a relentless recruiter for Ohio State.
“Tony Alford,” one source close to Ohio State recruiting told Landof10. “Is a difference maker. He does a really great job getting to know the kids and their families and when he sees a player he wants, he’s a bulldog.”
Alford helped secure Demario McCall, he stayed in close contact with freshman Antonio Williams throughout 2015 despite Ohio State having a commitment from Kareem Walker and landed Williams prior to Walker’s public departure from the Buckeyes 2016 signing class. He also helped recruit offensive lineman Jack Wohlabaugh and defensive tackle Tony Alford in 2016. In 2017, he’s been the driving force in the commitments of 4-star offensive lineman Jake Moretti and running back J.K. Dobbins and has put the Buckeyes at the top of the list for 5-star running back Cam Akers and 4-star Ohio wideout Jaylen Harris. He’s also the reason Ohio State was able to get a spring visit out of the country’s top-ranked player, Antioch (Calif.) running back and Alabama commitment, Najee Harris.
Much like he’s done with their on-field talent, Urban Meyer has done a great job replacing talented coaches with equally talented coaches during his five years with the Buckeyes.
More on Lindsey, the impact at Bishop Gorman
On Wednesday, the big news from the West Coast was that 4-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey is transferring back to Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) from Corona (Calif.) Centennial High School, even though he’s not played a down at Centennial. There has been some scuttlebutt that Lindsey’s eligibility in California (he was reportedly being forced to sit for the first five games of the season) played a role in his decision. There’s also been some who’ve wondered if he was finding himself in trouble off the field and that is what precipitated the move.
That does not appear to be the case, at least according to one source close to his recruitment.
“He’s in no trouble at all,” the source said. “It’s just personal stuff. It’s not my business to share, so I won’t, but he was all good at Centennial. He just wanted to be back at Bishop Gorman.”
There’s no doubt that the Gaels, the country’s third-ranked high school football team according to MaxPreps.com, will be glad to have Lindsey back in the fold, especially Ohio State commitment Tate Martell, who is looking for his third straight national championship. Bishop Gorman’s offense is already one of the country’s five best, according – again – to MaxPreps.
The Gaels averaged 51 points per game while garnering their seventh consecutive Nevada state title. No. 3 Gorman returns 83 percent of its offense and arguably America’s top playmaker in Ohio State commit Tate Martell. The nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback racked up 2,608 passing yards, 604 rushing yards and 41 total touchdowns as a junior. He owns a perfect 28-0 record under center over the past two years. He’ll have the luxury of handing the ball off to the nation’s No. 11 all-purpose back and Cal commit Biaggio Walsh, who recorded 2,451 rushing yards and 36 total TDs last year. The Gaels will compete against arguably the toughest regular season schedule.
Expect big numbers from Martell and Lindsey again in 2016 at Bishop Gorman as they play the country’s most challenging high school schedule that will pit them against the country’s No. 1 team (St. Thomas Aquinas, Fort Lauderdale), No. 4 team (Cedar Hill, Texas) and No. 7 team (St. John’s Bosco, Bellflower, Calif.).
Maybe, just maybe, the pair will also be playing alongside one another in college…
Morgan Ellison eager to play real football again
Ohio has a number of very talented 2017 prospects that are still searching for big-time Division 1 offers, but Pickerington Central’s Morgan Ellison may be the most talented player in that group. He’s got the size and speed combination (6 feet 1, 220 pounds and 4.6 in the 40-yard dash) that coaches all over the country covet, but season-ending injuries in his sophomore and junior seasons have prevented his recruitment from ever really taking off.
After a busy summer – where Ellison camped at a number of different colleges and shined at a pair of Nike’s The Opening regional camps – he’s found a few offers floating his way from schools like Toledo, Ball State, Miami of Ohio, and Ohio University, but he’s in no hurry now to make a college choice. He’s still hearing from Ohio State, Michigan State and schools that are, perhaps, a bit more on the “level” of his talents. He camped with the Buckeyes three times this summer, including at Friday Night Lights, and says he’s remained in contact with them as they continue to evaluate his health and game.
“We’ve talked,” he said of Ohio State. “They’re telling me to make sure I keep my grades up and that they’re going to come watch a game this year.”
Michigan State has said similarly and that’s the question mark around Ellison right now: can he stay healthy?
“I’m almost getting that feeling back,” he said about being ready for true football again. “I’m ready. I just want to do my best and help my team win every game.”
Buckeyes offer 2019 defensive end
Things may be a little bit slow on the recruiting front for the Buckeyes as they focus on their 2016 fall camp, but they’re still sending out scholarship offers to the deserving. Today Ohio State offered Louisville (KY) Trinity High School defensive end Stephen Herron, the country’s second-ranked 2019 defensive end.
— Stephen Herron, Jr (@stephenherron_) August 18, 2016
Herron, 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, holds five early offers now that Ohio State has made a move. The Buckeyes join Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisville, and Indiana, and their inclusion is almost certainly going to lead to a number of big-time programs throwing their hats into the mix in the near future as well.
Herron said that the offer from the Buckeyes is proof of his hard work paying off but a reminder to stay humble and to keep moving ahead.
“It’s a blessing,” Herron told Landof10 about the offer. “Just to know that what I do each and every day goes toward something. A prestigious school like Ohio State (offering) is just a huge humbling experience.”
To make the offer even more humbling? Herron has never spoken to the Buckeyes personally.
“Well to be honest I’d never had any communication with them except for a questionnaire they sent me Monday,” he said. “But the news about the offer was passed to my trainer from (an Ohio State recruiting assistant). They said they’d seen my scrimmage from the previous Friday night.”
The Buckeyes landed athlete Rodjay Burns from Trinity in their 2016 class, who played wide receiver and defensive back for the ‘Rocks the last few years. Herron lines up at linebacker and defensive end, though he’s almost certain to end up as a defensive lineman at the next level.