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.
Cam Akers keeping things in-house
The nation’s second-ranked running back, Mississippi’s Cam Akers, has not been talked about much around these parts — substantively anywhere else — over the last few months. Since appearing at Nike’s The Opening in July, Akers has laid pretty low recruiting-wise, and that’s part of the plan for him according to a report by Bleacher Report’s Damon Sayles.
Sales caught up with the 5-foot-11, 213-pound Clinton (Miss.) High star at the recruit’s US Army All-American jersey presentation early on Wednesday at his school.
— #ArmyBowl Tour (@SelectionTour) October 12, 2016
Akers, a former Alabama commitment, will officially visit the Crimson Tide the weekend of Oct. 22. It is his first official visit, and Akers has yet to plan a trip to Ohio State — though he continues to say that should happen sometime next month. ’Bama has two running backs committed for 2017, including the nation’s top player in Najee Harris from Antioch (Calif.). The Buckeyes have J.K. Dobbins, the nation’s top-ranked all-purpose back, committed, and Georgia has two commitments at the position as well.
But Akers says those things don’t matter.
“Who’s committed where doesn’t really play a role in my process,” he said. “Most schools already have a running back committed. Some have two committed. I’m going to go where I think it best fits me.”
Will Akers visit Ohio State in November as many suspect he will? That’s one of the biggest remaining questions in the Buckeyes’ 2017 recruiting class.
Don’t be that coach, Coach
With the increasing role of the Internet and social media, more and more the behind-the-scenes “stuff” that happens in recruiting is making its way to the public sphere and — in most cases — leading to ugly truths and sour grapes being revealed.
In a story by Evan Flood of Badger247.com on Wednesday, Wisconsin running backs coach John Settle tried to reveal an ugly truth about the recruitment of Ohio State freshman running back Antonio Williams, but instead showed himself as a guy full of those sour grapes.
As you may or may not know, Williams was committed to Wisconsin for almost a year before flipping to Ohio State in October 2015. According to Flood’s story, a tweet sent by Williams – while on an official visit to Wisconsin – gave the Badgers a reason to look elsewhere.
“There’s a reason he’s not here,” running backs coach John Settle said. “We talk about smart, tough dependable. If a guy doesn’t fit that criteria, he wouldn’t do well in this environment.”
That reason is eight words.
Following Wisconsin’s 10-6 loss to Iowa in the 2015 Big Ten Conference opener, Williams tweeted, “We will not be elite until Stave leaves.”
That was in reference to former UW quarterback Joel Stave, who was 21-of-38 passing with two interceptions in the defeat.
By then, Ohio State — led by running backs coach Tony Alford — was aware that running back commit Kareem Walker was looking at other schools, most notably Michigan. The Buckeyes had actually begun cranking up their pursuit of Williams in September.
Williams made his first visit to Ohio State two weeks after that early-October visit to Madison and committed to the Buckeyes just a day layer. Settle, in Flood’s story, implied that he and his team decided they didn’t want Williams anymore after his tweet.
“We didn’t chase him,” Settle said. “After he made some comments about one of our family members, I think it was a forgone conclusion that he was welcome to go look at other places.
“The players didn’t want him here.”
Wisconsin didn’t want Williams, the country’s seventh-ranked running back in the 2016 class, because of a tweet about a player he’d never play with. Settle, rather than having a conversation with Williams about the ill-advised tweet, would rather have cut him loose, apparently, and then badmouth a teenager a year later. Maybe that’s why the Ohio State freshman — whose work ethic and commitment are raved about by Urban Meyer, Alford and his Buckeyes teammates — felt Wisconsin wouldn’t be able to help him develop.
“I just felt like at Wisconsin I wouldn’t reach my full potential for what I want to be overall,” Williams told Cleveland.com’s Ari Wasserman. “I wouldn’t reach my full potential for what I want to be overall.”
In recruiting, and in life in general, the truth often is somewhere in the middle of two stories. Still, there’s no excuse for a coach at any level to use a public platform to badmouth a player that ended up elsewhere. It’s a very bad look.
Blaine Scott talks Buckeyes visit
The third-ranked 2018 offensive lineman in the state of Ohio made a visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ 38-17 win over Indiana last Saturday.
Sciotoville East (Portsmouth) 3-star prospect Blaine Scott, who holds more than 25 scholarship offers, told Landof10.com the visit was a good chance to catch up with an old teammate, Ohio State freshman Tyler Gerald.
“The visit went real well,” Scott, a 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle for the Tartans said. “I had good talks with the coaches and Tyler. He is thriving at Ohio State and enjoying his experience. He just tells me not to get complacent, and to enjoy the (recruiting) process not stress over it. He talked about how he’s been getting better there, from the support staff to strength and conditioning to (offensive line coach Greg) Studrawa, it is phenomenal.”
Aside from the chance to talk to Gerald, Scott says he enjoyed a chance to see what Ohio State’s talented offensive linemen do during a game.
“I watched their line real close,” Scott added. “It was a great game for an offensive lineman to watch. It was a big, physical, running game with very nasty play up front. It was fun to watch. Billy Price and Pat Elflein are the real deal.”
The nation’s 17th-ranked offensive guard doesn’t have an Ohio State offer yet, but he continues to be watched closely by the Buckeyes.
Harbaugh at Bishop Gorman; Brevin Mitchell still wants Ohio State offer
Though there are three 2017 prospects from Las Vegas powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School committed to Ohio State, a pair of 2018 prospects for the Gaels were expected to see a key visitor Wednesday: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Those prospects? Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and tight end Brevin Jordan.
The arrival of a big-name coach at Gorman isn’t exactly new, and Harbaugh’s presence isn’t going to change what happens, according to Jordan.
“It’s a normal practice,” Jordan told Landof10. “It doesn’t change the way we practice or how we prepare for the opponent we’re playing. I won’t pay any attention to him even being there during practice.”
The 2018 teammates have been a top target for the Wolverines so far, but that has not really been the case with Ohio State.
Neither currently has a Buckeyes offer, though Thompson-Robinson visited the Buckeyes in the spring. But with the commitment of Emory Jones, a 2018 5-star quarterback from Franklin High in Georgia, it is unlikely Thompson-Robinson will see an offer from Ohio State unless he decides to play receiver in college, which is a possibility.
The questions around Jordan, the nation’s second-ranked tight end, are slightly different. A 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, Jordan is the dreaded “tweener.” And with the Buckeyes pursuing — and doing quite well with — pure tight ends like New York’s Jeremy Ruckert and Ohio’s Trenton Gillison, it’s hard to see if a spot for Jordan ever comes available.
And he’s ready for it, telling Landof10: “I’m just waiting on the offer.”
When asked about whether or not he’s growing weary of waiting, Jordan spoke plainly but smartly, preferring to focus on what’s directly in front of him, rather than what’s coming 18-or-more months from now.
“I don’t wait on schools; if they don’t offer me it’s not a big deal,” Jordan added. “It wasn’t meant to be. I don’t sit around thinking about the recruiting process. I’m more focused on winning a national championship. Offers will come later.”
Thoughts on Jaylen Harris and Ohio State
Ohio’s top-ranked 2017 wide receiver, Jaylen Harris out of Cleveland Heights, visited the Buckeyes over the weekend. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Harris has said repeatedly that Ohio State has told him the Buckeyes will “make it work” if he wants to join their top-ranked 2017 recruiting class.
And his most recent visit occurred at the same time as the country’s top-ranked wideout, Detroit’s Donovan Peoples-Jones, was on campus.
Ohio State has two 5-star wide receivers verbally committed, and neither of them are going anywhere, but Harris is from Ohio and has held a Buckeyes offer for almost 16 months. After this most recent visit, things haven’t really changed. (I know that is less than helpful.)
If Harris wants in, the Buckeyes will have to make a choice on whether they can take him, understanding that things are currently tight. It’s my belief that they will accept a commitment from Jaylen Harris at some point, and I believe the longer he waits to make a college decision, the higher those odds get.