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.
Christopher Oats, Dallas Gant working together
Although he was not expected to work out during Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp, Cincinnati (Winton Woods) 4-star 2018 prospect Christopher Oats – recovering from a broken wrist – did get some work in for the Buckeyes coaching staff.
“I ended up working out a little bit,” Oats told Landof10. “I felt great, but I was a little rusty at first. I worked out because Ohio State wanted to see me run in person.”
Ohio State offered Oats in June during a one-day camp in Columbus, but Oats didn’t work out at that time, so it was important for him to get some one-on-one time with Luke Fickell. According to Oats, the Buckeyes linebackers coach was impressed by what he saw.
“(Luke) Fickell told me that I looked like one of the best linebackers he’s seen in a while,” Oats said. “It felt great to hear that.”
For the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Oats, the chance to spend some time at Ohio State with one of his peers, fellow 2018 linebacker Dallas Gant, who also holds a Buckeye offer, was something he relished. There may eventually be a rivalry between the talented duo, but for now the chance to share stories and experiences for two kids going through the same thing has been priceless.
“I spent a lot of time with Dallas Gant,” Oats said of his visit. “He and I are just trying to build a friendship. We’ve known each other since our freshman year and that’s really helpful. We feel like we’re a step ahead of everyone else.”
Darnay Holmes worth the chase?
Ohio State had a chance to see – for the second straight year – California 5-star defensive back Darnay Holmes, who visited the Buckeyes campus again for Friday Night Lights. Last year, one Ohio State source described Holmes as the “best defensive back we’ve ever had at a camp,” and last week he was once again the man at the event. He worked out, took rep after rep and, generally speaking, was as impressive as ever.
Here’s the thing with Holmes, who first had his interest in Buckeyes football piqued by former Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas, who he is close with: Can the Buckeyes take him? I mean, beyond the question of would they have a chance, the question is can they? They’ve got a commitment from 5-star cornerback Shaun Wade, 4-star cornerbacks Amir Riep and Marcus Williamson, 4-star safeties in Isaiah Pryor and Brendon White and they’re right in the hunt for 5-star defensive back Jeffrey Okudah and 4-star Lamont Wade. Where is the room? Does it matter?
Yes, it does, according to the same source who spoke so highly of Holmes last year.
“I think,” the source shared, “if we pushed, it could really come down to UCLA or Ohio State.”
Ohio State’s hold on Shaun Wade is certainly precarious. The 5-star from Jacksonville’s Trinity Christian Academy is looking hard at Alabama, Notre Dame and others and while he’s been committed to the Buckeyes since January of 2015, there’s no guarantee he ends up in the class.
Would it make more sense to put down an “ultimatum” or sorts for Wade, the nation’s third-ranked corner, and if he doesn’t accept move towards a full-court press on Holmes, the country’s second-ranked cornerback? Wade appears to be a better “fit” in the defense with his length, but Holmes is as explosive as any player in the country and Ohio State is hot on the West Coast right now.
Even with the best recruiting class in the country, there are questions that need to be answered for the Buckeyes.
One of the most interesting players at Ohio State last Friday night was Warren G. Harding (Youngstown, Ohio) athlete Lynn Bowden, Ohio’s eighth-ranked player in the 2017 class.
Bowden has offers from Kentucky, Indiana, Penn State, Tennessee and even Michigan, yet the former Hoosiers commitment had kind of fallen off the “players to watch” list, primarily due to questions about his ability to keep his head on straight off the field. Because on the field, Bowden can flat out play.
“That kid was a dog,” one source close to the Buckeyes shared about the Youngstown star. “He’s got a different level. I just don’t think that he’s going to get a chance at a place like Ohio State because there are too many questions.”
Hopefully for a young player like Bowden, realizing that people close to the biggest schools in the country are watching and coming away very impressed, the light will come on soon and he’ll straighten up the ship and fly right.
Paul Woods impresses Buckeyes
Darnay Holmes isn’t the only player that attended Friday Night Lights that has had his career impacted by former Buckeyes wide receiver Mike Thomas. Canisius (Buffalo, N.Y.) 2018 wide receiver Paul Woods told Landof10.com that watching the New Orleans Saints second-round draft pick has shaped his game.
“I just like how he’s always humble,” Woods, who is a slight 6-foot-1 and 150 pounds said. “He plays smooth but also fast. He’s got excellent hands and can turn any play into a big play. He also always shows up when things get tough in the game. I want to be that guy.”
One step toward being that guy – especially at Ohio State – is getting the attention of the Buckeyes coaching staff. Woods says he earned that a little bit with his performance at Friday Night Lights.
“It was a great experience at Friday Night Lights,” Woods said. “I performed well and I caught their eyes a bit. I talked to Mark Pantoni and Zach Smith, and they said I did really well. It was intense and a great atmosphere. I’ve been an Ohio State fan since I was little, so it was cool to be in that place.”