Dotting the ‘Eyes: Tight numbers mean tough decisions for commitments, West Coast stars talk Buckeyes 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.
Wyatt Davis in Ohio, parents visit Buckeyes
Offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, a 5-star 2017 commitment from Bellflower (Calif.), is in Ohio. His high school team, St. John’s Bosco, will take on Cincinnati St. Xavier at Nippert Stadium on Saturday night in a cross-country showdown between two national powerhouse schools. Davis and the Braves arrived in southwest Ohio on Tuesday, and, though he won’t be able to make the trip north to check in with his future coaches at Ohio State, his parents did just that Wednesday.
“Wyatt is playing St. Xavier on Saturday, so we will be here all week,” Davis’ mother, Inge, told Landof10.com. “(Wednesday’s) visit was wonderful. We met with everyone, including Shelley Meyer. It was so fun.”
The visit helped the California prep star’s family get more comfortable with those entrusted with their son’s future.
“We met with everyone in person,” she shared. “Urban Meyer, Shelley Meyer, (director of player personnel) Mark Pantoni, (offensive line coach Greg) Studrawa and several other coaches, including the strength coach. We met the athletic director, Gene Smith. The list was quite extensive.”
Davis’ parents learned what it was like to be a Buckeye on Wednesday.
“We went from point A to point B all day,” she said. “Real-life Wednesdays was amazing, the people who work with academics, et cetera. It was truly a wonderful experience. We took in a little practice as well. It’s a great coaching staff and administration and the players and atmosphere. Ohio State is one of a kind. Urban Meyer and Company is simply the best. Why? Because everyone at Ohio State cares.”
If you worry about Davis and his California roots as a potential reason for a late-cycle flip, I’d suggest that you needn’t. There’s plenty of family in Ohio.
“(Wyatt’s father) Duane was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and his mom’s siblings all reside in Cincinnati,” she added. “We are actually staying with Duane’s uncle, who is a retired teacher and principal. It’s so wonderful to connect with family, and I believe they’re planning a mini-family reunion. It’s been so awesome.”
Gaoteote and Buckeyes still building relationships
With three of his teammates at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) committed to the Buckeyes, it’s not a surprise that 4-star 2018 linebacker Palaie Gaoteote has developed a very good relationship with Ohio State.
“Our relationship is real solid,” the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Gaoteote told Landof10. “I’m comfortable with the coaches (at Ohio State), Luke Fickell and Urban Meyer, and I’ve been developing a good relationship with the both of them. The last time I talked to them was last week, Sunday.”
The country’s top-ranked outside linebacker says it’s unique to have three of his teammates – 2017 prospects Tate Martell, Tyjon Lindsey and Haskell Garrett – all heading to the same college.
“It’s most definitely crazy having so many teammates heading there,” he said. “Tate, Tyjon and Haskell tell me in detail everything about Ohio State.”
Of course, teammates – and, in some cases, family – may want you to join them in college, but there’s no pressure being applied … at least by Martell and Lindsey.
“Those three help me everyday by just giving me nonstop advice on what to do and what not to do in the recruiting process. There’s no pressure,” he said before clarifying. “Well, not so much with Tate and Tyjon, it’s more of Haskell. I talk with him a lot because he’s a relative of mine and, basically, is my older brother. He constantly puts in my mind day in and day out: Ohio State, Ohio State.”
Though he holds 17 early offers and has a number of people in his ear on a daily basis, Gaoteote says that right now the focus is on his junior season with the Gaels, though he would like to visit Ohio with his teammates – and hopes to do so this season.
“Right now, I’m just focused on the season,” he said. “Trying to be the best me I can be this year football-wise. The defensive unit is stoked and ready for this game Saturday against Cedar Hill (Texas), mentally and physically. I can’t wait to display that this Saturday and start the season.”
Radley-Hiles hasn’t heard much from Ohio State since July visit
While Gaoteote, a cousin of 4-star defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, has maintained a relationship with Ohio State, 4-star 2018 defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles, a cousin of 5-star wideout Tyjon Lindsey, has not heard much lately from the Buckeyes.
“We’ve not been talking really,” Radley-Hiles, the country’s seventh-ranked 2018 cornerback, told Landof10. “There was a little communication after they’ve offered with (Ohio State safeties coach Greg) Schiano. (He) came out to the school twice and I visited recently.”
With Sept. 1 looming – the day that college coaches and rising juniors can share more open dialogue – the 5-foot-10, 175-pound defensive back, a teammate of 2017 5-star cornerback Darnay Holmes, said he hopes communication with Ohio State will pick back up. Either way, the recent commitment of his cousin hasn’t changed Radley-Hiles’ feelings about recruiting.
“Hopefully,” he said when asked if he thinks the Sept. 1 date will accelerate his recruiting a bit. “I knew for a while Tyjon was going to Ohio State, so it didn’t really impact me too much, but it was great to see him do it.”
Florida, Nebraska, USC and UCLA are among the early leaders for Radley-Hiles. Will the Buckeyes get more involved? We’ll find out.
Tight numbers mean tough calls for committed players
There are a number of questions concerning Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class, especially related to the number of available scholarships. Because of A) how successful Ohio State’s recruiting is and B) how many guys still want in the class and C) how few spots are left, there are going to be some tough decisions made by players currently committed to the Buckeyes in the next few months.
Here’s the deal: Ohio State has 18 commitments and only five (OK, six, if you count Marcus Williamson) are from Ohio.
(Sidebar: It’s kind of wild to think about the fact that right now the Buckeyes have as many 5-star commitments as they do players from Ohio committed.)
It is, to no one’s surprise, much harder to keep players from other states committed than it is to keep players from Ohio committed. One of the primary reasons for that is players from out of state have longer-term relationships with coaches and schools close to them, right? Right.
It’s easy for a player from another state to take a weekend trip to see a game at their local school or do a “favor” for their high school coach or friend who wants to tag along, or take a visit to another school. In most cases, that’s not a big deal and, in most years, that wouldn’t be a big deal. Is it ever ideal for a player that’s committed to your favorite program to take visits elsewhere? No, not really, but when official visit season rolls around and you get the chance to parade around town as a hotshot recruit – especially if you’re upfront with the school you’re committed to – most places are going to acquiesce and not really put up too much of a fight.
But times, my friends, they are changing. In its 2016 class, Ohio State, when faced with the prospect of Kareem Walker – who was the country’s No. 1 ranked running back for much of that recruiting year – taking an official visit to Michigan, basically washed their hands of the New Jersey product. That was not the case in 2013 when Ezekiel Elliott took a late-cycle visit to Missouri and almost flipped to the Tigers. Why? Timing and importance, really. Ohio State knew they’d be able to replace Walker given the time left in that particular recruiting cycle and options available. They decided on Antonio Williams; the Buckeyes and Walker went their separate ways. Now, a year later, Ohio State may be forced to consider how they’d respond if 5-star cornerback Shaun Wade wants to visit Ann Arbor officially (he’s scheduled to do so on Oct. 1) when players like Darnay Holmes, Xavier McKinney, and Jeffrey Okudah are still available.
What about players that aren’t 5-stars like Wade and Walker? That’s when things get a bit more dicey, no matter the purpose of a visit. Players committed to a big-time program right now, not even one that is as tight numbers-wise as Ohio State, had better be darn sure that they can’t be easily replaced in that team’s plans if they plan to make trips elsewhere, otherwise they could be on the outside looking in – even if they are upfront about such visits.