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.
Let’s get to it – final thoughts on Darnay Holmes
It’s been talked about ad nauseam this week, but we may as well start with the recruitment of Darnay Holmes. He’ll announce his college decision on Saturday, making him one of three defensive backs that included Ohio State in their final group to commit at the Army All-American Game. And after almost six weeks of being told, “He’s going to be a Buckeye,” things have switched up considerably in the last two days here in San Antonio.
On Thursday, Land of 10 was told that Holmes – the country’s second-ranked cornerback – would not choose the Buckeyes on Saturday. That, we were told, was because Holmes’ family was split on a decision. It appeared that the cornerback preferred Ohio State while family members would rather he stay closer to home. Whether it was USC or UCLA – or even Nebraska, and we’ll get to that in a moment – the rumors are that Ohio State is just not where his family wants him to be.
But that doesn’t mean he’s not going to choose the Buckeyes on Saturday.
The problem is that when you’re a teenager, what your family – and long-term girlfriend – wants, matters a lot to you. It should. Of course, on the other side of that coin, what the player himself wants should matter, too. Holmes is 18 years old, but the NCAA requires a parental signature on a Letter of Intent for anyone under the age of 21. If he wants to sign a Letter of Intent – which he doesn’t have to no matter where he enrolls in college – both sides need to come to an understanding.
The decision should be simple: What is in the best interest of the prospect and his family? That is what is apparently being hashed out Friday: a compromise.
Could that compromise mean Nebraska? Sources have continued to insist that Holmes would prefer to leave home, and that could mean Ohio or Nebraska. You can find Holmes in the student directory there, and you can’t find him the directory anywhere else.
That doesn’t mean he’s headed to Lincoln, though. Holmes has said this week that he forwarded his application to all four of his finalists, and this could just be a clerical error on the Cornhuskers’ part, accidentally making his information public.
Here’s the deal: Holmes could absolutely pick anyone on Saturday and there’s a valid reason why he would. He loves Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano at Ohio State, Demetrice Martin at UCLA, his “Calibraska” friends heading to Nebraska and the coaching staff and tradition at USC. Rumors on Friday are that the Trojans have offered his girlfriend a track scholarship this week, which is certainly interesting in its timing, but not unethical by any means.
The strangest thing about how this recruitment has spun is the timing. You’d have thought that the family would have been vocal about its preference prior to Holmes arriving in Texas, and maybe they were. Maybe they didn’t believe he was really going to pick Ohio State, and, now as it drew closer to D-Day, came to grips with it and were forced to increase their resistance. Either way, as of Friday morning, the family was still reportedly split.
I have said all week that I’m going to ride my Ohio State choice because I believe strongly that Holmes’ preference is the Buckeyes. That said, my gut tells me he’ll acquiesce to his family and decide to stay closer to home. Heck, maybe Darnay and his family tell NBC “thanks, but no thanks” and decide to hold off on a commitment altogether.
This seems to be coming down to head (Ohio State or Nebraska) versus heart (what his family wants, USC or UCLA), and heart almost always wins.
Last call on Jeffrey Okudah
For all the drama around Holmes, the last week’s worth of news on 5-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah has been pretty much what you expect.
Florida State and Oklahoma will be the final hats on the table with Ohio State, and all signs still point to the country’s top-ranked corner choosing the Buckeyes on Saturday. He’s spent the week with his best friend – 5-star linebacker Baron Browning – and no one will be surprised if he picks the Block O.
This decision should bring good news to Ohio State fans.
The decision of Bubba Bolden
The third player announcing on Saturday with Ohio State interest is Las Vegas (Bishop Gorman) defensive back Bubba Bolden. The country’s sixth-ranked safety visited Ohio State on Nov. 5, and coming out of that trip, all signs pointed to him joining Tate Martell, Tyjon Lindsey and Haskell Garrett in Columbus. But that is no longer the case.
Whether it was a matter of tightening scholarship numbers for the Buckeyes or just Bolden preferring USC – where he was once committed – he’s likely to pick the Trojans on Saturday.
Jaylen Harris says he’s hearing regularly from Ohio State
So one player that is not at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but is expected to pick Ohio State (eventually) is 4-star wide receiver Jaylen Harris. The Cleveland Heights (Ohio) wideout spoke to Land of 10’s Luke Srodulski on Thursday about his recent official visit to Michigan State and where things stand in his recruitment. He was asked about Ohio State. The Buckeyes ramped up their contact with the 6-foot-5, 210-pound prospect in August after they received commitments from Tyjon Lindsey and Trevon Grimes.
“Ohio State picked it up harder when (fellow receivers) Tyjon (Lindsey) and Trevon (Grimes) committed,” he said. “After they committed, they got on me harder than ever. They’ve been recruiting me hard for a while.”
So what’s next? Harris will visit Ohio State officially the weekend of Jan. 20, but he says he’s also interested in visiting two SEC schools this month: Florida and Tennessee. A decision will come sometime soon after these trips are complete. What’s going to be the deciding factor?
“I’ve just got to get a good vibe,” he said of the place where he eventually commits, “and if it comes down to anything, they’ve got to be somewhere I can picture myself.”
Harris has been recruited by Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford, who recruits the Cleveland area, and wide receivers coach Zach Smith.