Dotting the ‘Eyes: Updates on top tight end from Friday Night Lights, Tyjon Lindsey, Emory Jones 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.
Emory Jones on the brink of a decision?
One thing that Ohio State has done well in recent recruiting classes is identifying, very early in the process, who the guys are.
You know, the guys that make a difference, the guys that fit the system in Columbus better than anyone else. They find those guys and they latch on and they make sure those guys know they’re the priority. They’ve done that with Franklin (Ga.) 2018 4-star prospect Emory Jones and it has absolutely paid off.
Jones, the country’s second-ranked dual-threat quarterback, was going to commit to Tennessee in April, but interest and an offer from Ohio State changed all that. The Buckeyes were his “dream school” and Tim Beck and Urban Meyer made him aware immediately that he was the right player for their offense. Beck visited over and over in this spring, getting to know not just Jones, but his mother and coaches and extended family.
It seems that the Buckeyes are on the verge of that work paying off. After this weekend’s three-day visit to Ohio State, optimism is very high that Jones will commit to the Buckeyes at some point in the near future. I talked to a number of different sources regarding Jones and his visit – which he took just one day after his last trip to Tennessee – and things appear to be shaping up for a big “boom” soon.
“I think he’s good to go,” one source said. “Things went really well this weekend and he sees exactly where he fits in and knows that even with the guys ahead of him, he can play here. It was good for him to see other guys right in front of him.”
Jones was expected to fly back to Atlanta very early on Sunday morning (like 4:00 a.m. early) but pushed back his flight and just left Columbus a short while ago. Today he had an early meeting with Urban Meyer and Tim Beck and then spent time getting a little bit more work in on the field before wrapping up his trip.
I imagine that from this point, the only potential delay in an announcement happening this week is if Jones, when he calls the Tennessee coaches to inform them of his plans, is convinced – again – by Butch Jones to hold off.
I don’t think that will happen this time, though.
Jones has wanted to get a decision made, he’s been to Ohio State and Tennessee multiple times in the last few months and his mom is completely on board with the Buckeyes being the choice, even though it’s a few extra hours from home. “Dream school” scenarios rarely play out this dream-like, but it seems everything is lining up for Emory Jones – Ohio State’s top choice at quarterback for 2018 – to be a Buckeye very soon.
Ruckert becoming top 2018 tight end target?
Speaking of identifying a top target early in the process, it appears the Buckeyes are doing that at tight end in the 2018 class. While they hosted the country’s top tight end – Camp Hill (Pa.) 5-star Zack Kuntz – for Friday Night Lights, its another prospect that really caught the eyes of the coaching.
“Jeremy Ruckert,” one source said. “I loved that kid. He is a big-timer. He was the best tight end there.”
It appears that the affection between the two sides is mutual. Ruckert, a 4-star prospect from Lindenhurst (N.Y.) told Landof10 that his visit to Ohio State was pretty special.
“I had a great visit,” Ruckert told Landof10. “I really enjoyed myself and it ended with a great performance at Friday Night Lights.”
The important part of the visit was not the camp, though. It was a chance for the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Ruckert to spend time with a coaching staff that has been very interested in him since Ohio State offered in May.
“I loved how (Urban) Meyer was with me most of the visit,” he said. “He was really making sure I had a great visit. I was there from 9:00 a.m. until about 10:00 p.m. I’ve just built great relationships with the coaches and loved how they were by my side the whole way. They did a great job of showing me what Ohio State football is all about.
For Ruckert – whose visit to Ohio State was his seventh school in seven days – it could’ve all started to run together. The facilities and the coaches and the faces and the names. Still, the Buckeyes were able to stand apart from the crowd.
“I loved everything about it,” Ruckert added. “Everything from the ‘Real Life Wednesdays’ to the intense work ethic of the strength staff; I was impressed. If I don’t have any games that week for my team, I’m set on going to the Ohio State and Michigan game this year.”
The country’s seventh-ranked tight end stayed in Columbus on Friday night and made a visit to Michigan on Saturday, his final visit of a week-long tour that went from Florida to Ann Arbor.
“Michigan was pretty cool,” Ruckert added. “I wish I could’ve gone a different time though. Their coaches were all on vacation. I just saw the campus and the facilities.”
Lindsey sooner than later?
The best performance at Friday Night Lights at Ohio Stadium on Friday was probably turned in by Corona (Calif.) Centennial 5-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey.
Outside of his performance, Lindsey’s comfort among the Buckeyes commitments and targets in attendance was noteworthy. While things had been shaping up for another month of back and forth between Ohio State and Nebraska leading up to Lindsey’s August 22 decision, there are multiple sources close to both Lindsey and the Buckeyes telling Landof10 that this recruitment is is over.
So, the question is whether or not the decision date of August 22 is a firm one, and I don’t think that it is. While that’s most certainly the target at this point, there are things in place that could change the target and lead to a sooner-than-expected announcement.
Zach Smith’s relationship with Lindsey has been instrumental in his recruitment and it’s not changed over the course of the last year. Despite a very strong push by the Cornhuskers – especially their wide receivers coach Keith Williams – there’s no reason to think the 5-star wide receiver ends up anywhere other than Ohio State. Whenever it happens.
Hopper loves Ohio State trip
The tight end position was one of the most intriguing at Friday Night Lights and Roswell (Ga.) 4-star Tyneil Hopper was perhaps one of the more intriguing prospects at the position. A 6-foot-2, 215-pound prospect with offers from Louisville, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Kentucky, Hopper was impressive on Friday night.
— Tyrone Hopper (@hopo125) July 23, 2016
The Buckeyes also impressed Hopper, a 2018 star who’s visited Alabama, Clemson and North Carolina already.
“Ohio State is really one of the nicest places I’ve seen,” the country’s ninth-ranked tight end told Landof10. “I really enjoyed it. I built good relationships with the coaches and I enjoyed looking at the school, the stadium and the facilities and everything. It was good.”
Ed Warinner and the Buckeyes did not offer Hopper, but he says he was encouraged by their feedback and that he knows he was going head-to-head with a number of the country’s premier players at his position.
“There were three top tight ends there in my class, and we all performed well,” Hopper said. “(Ohio State) said they liked how I performed. They think I’m a good player and told me to keep working hard and stay in contact. I gave everything I had, 100-percent.”
Hopper’s visit to Ohio State gave him a good opportunity to spend time with Ed Warinner and the rest of the Buckeyes coaching staff. He informed Landof10 that he hopes to get back up to Ohio for a visit during the upcoming season.
“I got to talk to Ed Warinner, a lot before we went on the field, and I had a great time working with him,” Hopper added. “I spent more time with Ohio State (than other visits) because I came in early before the camp started. I got to see how the coaches bond with the players and how the players bonded with one another. Hopefully I can get up there this season because I really like it up there.”