Dotting the ‘Eyes: Xavier McKinney talks Buckeyes offer, Leonard Taylor decommits from Michigan 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.
More on Grimes, Lindsey decisions
If you’re a fan of college football – especially Ohio State – and you pay attention to the ins and outs of recruiting, you were likely not surprised by today’s announcement from 5-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, who committed to the Buckeyes as we’ve been telling you would be the case for the last month. The reveal that Trevon Grimes was committing with Lindsey today may have been a surprise, timing-wise, but there was no surprise that Grimes selected Ohio State as well.
Ohio State was not surprised, certainly, and neither were its commitments who reacted quickly and appropriately to the day’s big news.
“He committed to Ohio State in May,” one source said of Grimes. “It’s just been about waiting for the right time to let everyone know. When he and Tyjon got to talking, they decided they wanted to do it together. He flew from Florida the week after Friday Night Lights to California and they did the video thing then.”
With today’s additions, the Buckeyes now have 18 commitments in their 2017 recruiting class, which is ranked as the country’s best. Of those 18, a whopping 33 percent are ranked as both 5-star prospects and among the top 28 prospects overall.
- Offensive lineman • Josh Myers • No. 10
- Offensive lineman • Wyatt Davis • No. 15
- Wide receiver • Trevon Grimes • No. 16
- Defensive back • Shaun Wade • No. 18
- Defensive end • Chase Young • No. 27
- Wide receiver • Tyjon Lindsey • No. 28
Ohio State’s wide receivers coach Zach Smith, who is also the football team’s recruiting coordinator, spoke candidly on Monday morning about the realities of recruiting at such a high level. Simply put, if you’re a coach at Ohio State and you want to recruit a player, he better be damn good.
“Our situation right now, with how successful we’re doing in recruiting and how tight we are on scholarships, it’s really built competition amongst the staff,” Smith said. “You better bring in a big-time dude, or we might not be able to take him because somebody else has a big-time dude that might come. So, you better be recruiting the best of the best, the best in class, and if you are, you better work and recruit hard to get him to come or you may not have a spot.”
Lindsey and Grimes are both big-time dudes, obviously. As we broke down Lindsey’s commitment earlier today, one of the key points was that since 2014 the Buckeyes have not recruited another slot receiver, a position that’s been a key part of Urban Meyer’s offenses for years. In the 2016 recruiting cycle, they passed on Miami 4-star Sam Bruce. A big reason for that was knowing they were going to be seriously involved with Tyjon Lindsey.
Why the Buckeyes for Lindsey?
“It’s home,” Lindsey told Landof10. “I have family going to Ohio State, guys like Tate Martell and Haskell Garrett and my guys like Trevon Grimes. Plus, that’s where my family is from. It’s home.”
4-star defensive back from Georgia adds offer
Late Sunday night, Ohio State offered one of the country’s top-ranked uncommitted defensive backs, Roswell (Ga.) 4-star Xavier McKinney, a former Alabama commitment. The country’s 10th-ranked safety decommitted from the Crimson Tide in July, though he’s still listing them as one of his top choices. Urban Meyer made the offer himself, making it that much more special, said McKinney.
“It was a great feeling talking to the one of the best coaches of all-time,” McKinney said of his conversation with Meyer. “I’ve noticed he doesn’t offer many people personally, so I’m glad I was one of the few. Ohio State has been my dream school since I was little. They have a great program, but I hadn’t really been talking to them much.”
McKinney is likely to visit Ohio State this fall, but he says that right now he’s not 100 percent sure of his plans for official visits. The 6-foot-1, 192-pounder, however, is 100 percent certain what he seeks from a college football program.
“Just knowing the atmosphere and hanging with the players and staff,” he said when asked how he’ll separate schools like Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, and others. “I’ve got to see where I’m most comfortable when things go great and when things are bad. Everyone has a shot right now with me, but I’m definitely interested in Ohio State.
Why did he decommit from Alabama?
“He was just making sure he made the right choice,” one source familiar with Bama recruiting told Landof10.com. “He’s definitely someone that they wanted.”
I know what you, the faithful reader, are thinking.
“So…Jeremy? What does this mean for Shaun Wade? Does this mean the Buckeyes 5-star cornerback commitment is going to flip to Bama? Is it a done deal? Is it over with Wade? What about 5-star Jeffrey Okudah? Why, for the love of God, why are they offering another defensive back?”
My advice to you is simple: relax.
First of all, there’s no imminent flip coming from Wade and there’s no ground being lost with Okudah. Wade is still looking at Bama, Florida, Notre Dame, and Michigan, but he’s still committed to Ohio State and is still planning to visit Columbus twice this fall. Okudah, the country’s top-ranked defensive back, is going to visit Oklahoma officially as he’s planned on doing (for their game against Ohio State) and there is no reason to think the Buckeyes aren’t right where they’ve been all along with him: at the top of his list.
The decision to offer McKinney is nothing but smart, period. He’s really good at football, and if something does happen down the road with Wade, or Okudah, or anyone else, they won’t find themselves scrambling late to try and establish a relationship.
Leonard Taylor decommits from Michigan
Two weeks after he committed to Michigan on April 1, Springfield (Ohio) 4-star athlete Leonard Taylor, the country’s 139th-ranked 2018 prospect, arrived at Ohio State to visit the Buckeyes for their annual Scarlet and Gray Spring Game wearing all Buckeyes garb. If you wondered at the time how committed he was to Michigan, to quote some Southern-based comedian somewhere: “There’s your sign.”
Today, five months later, Taylor – a nephew of former Ohio State captain Ormonde Ricketts – has officially re-opened his recruitment though it’s been expected since April.
— Leonard Taylor (@Lenny_T_20) August 22, 2016
So Taylor is going to be a Buckeye, right? Yes? Maybe? Eventually?
I’m not sold. I think that there are some questions right now about what happens next with the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Ohioan, ranked as the state’s fifth-best prospect. He’s got major upside to his game, but he’s not – at this point anyway – a player that is a slam dunk to end up at Ohio State. Is he a tight end? If he is, is he better than players like Pickerington’s Trenton Gillison or Lindenhurst (N.Y.) star Jeremy Ruckert? No, he’s not. If he’s a defensive tackle – which is the likely result of his recruitment – can he increase the level of his game and become a top-flight player at the position? Right now, he’s not on the level of players like Taron Vincent, Tyler Friday, Ricky Sandidge or Trevor Trout.
The good news for Taylor – and the Buckeyes – is that there is a year and a half until he can sign a letter of intent, plenty of time to find the fit that makes the most sense, though Ohio State is definitely going to remain in that conversation until then.
A new 2019 offer goes out
Ohio State became the first offer for 2019 St. Simons Island (Ga.) defensive back Jaylin Simpson on Monday afternoon.
Blessed to receive my first offer from THE Ohio State University pic.twitter.com/AOK9hwl0Qq
— Jaylin Simpson (@jaylinsimp) August 22, 2016
A 5-foot-11 cornerback at the Frederica Academy, Simpson is a teammate of Jashawn Sheffield, the country’s top-ranked receiver in the same class. While watching tape on Sheffield, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes noticed Simpson. It was Meyer himself who offered.
“I was really nervous,” Simpson said of talking to Meyer. “But it was cool. He said they noticed me looking at my teammate Jashawn’s film and they liked what I did.”
So what did they see on film? Simpson tried to describe his game as he’s starting his sophomore season.
“I like to be physical on the outside and use my athleticism to guard receivers,” he said. “I have a long way to go, but I’m working to be better.”
Simpson said he’s also working to learn more about Ohio State now that they’ve put themselves firmly in his mind after being his first offer, even though Tennessee offered just about 45 minutes later.
“I just know they are a winning program and put kids in (the NFL). I want to learn more,” he said. “It means so much to me for Ohio State to be first. It’s motivating me to do better on the field and off and Ohio State will always be special to me because of that.”
Tutt lists 11
As a final quick-hitter tonight, 4-star cornerback Christian Tutt has narrowed his top schools list and included the Buckeyes in his top 11.
Tutt, the 14th-ranked cornerback in the 2018 class, hails from Thomson (Ga.) High School. He visited Ohio State this past April and has been a regular target of Kerry Coombs when the Buckeyes energetic cornerbacks coach has made stops in the Peach State.
Ohio State, Georgia and Alabama are three of the more serious contenders for Tutt right now.