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.
Brenton Cox delays decision
When 4-star defensive end Brenton Cox visited Ohio State for the spring game and then set a decision date shortly after, the Buckeyes had to be feeling good about their odds of landing the Stockbridge, Ga., native.
He planned to visit Georgia’s spring game Sunday and then announce Monday. Even though that meant contending with one last visit to the in-state Bulldogs, there was always a chance that announcing a date meant he’d made up his mind. Even if he hadn’t fully made up his mind, Ohio State probably felt good about its positioning coming off an excellent visit.
Ohio State will have to wait a few days longer than expected, though, to find out the outcome. Cox announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he’s pushing back his decision.
The commitment has been pushed back a few days to make sure the right choice is being made , so it won't be this Sunday ??
— Jagg (@Brenton_cox) April 19, 2017
Obviously, each recruitment is different, but history indicates this probably isn’t a great development for Ohio State. The longer he waits following the Ohio State visit, the tougher it probably gets for the Buckeyes. Cox has been to Georgia more than any other school, and the Bulldogs have been the favorite throughout his recruitment. It was going to take some momentum for Ohio State to turn things in its favor, and the further Cox gets from that visit the more tenuous those chances could become.
With that being said, there’s still a lot to like about Ohio State’s positioning. Cox had a great visit on a weekend with a loaded list of prospects in town. Because the spring evaluation period just started, the Buckeyes could also pay a visit before the decision if so desired.
What exactly does that entail? Here’s the NCAA’s description:
An authorized off-campus recruiter may use one evaluation to assess the prospective student-athlete’s athletics ability and one evaluation to assess the prospective student-athlete’s academic qualifications during this evaluation period. If an institution’s coaching staff member conducts both an athletics and an academic evaluation of the prospective student-athlete on the same day during this evaluation period, the institution shall be charged with the use of an academic evaluation only and shall be permitted to conduct a second athletics evaluation of the prospective student-athlete on a separate day during this evaluation period.
That would likely mean sending either an Ohio State assistant or head coach Urban Meyer to Georgia to watch Cox practice. Speaking with prospects on these trips is prohibited, but you can rest assured that Cox would know Ohio State was there.
Why doesn’t Ohio have spring football?
Speaking of the evaluation period, that’s a thorny subject when it comes to Ohio State’s in-state recruiting. At least 16 states have some form of high school spring football, but Ohio is not one of them. That means that during this time, if Ohio State coaches want to watch recruits play real, live football, they’ll probably be doing it somewhere in the South. It definitely won’t be in the state they want to recruit the hardest.
“I would love to have the opportunity to go see these Ohio kids play right now like I’m going to go see them play in Texas,” said Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, who previously served as a high school coach at Cincinnati Colerain. “I’m going to go see them play in Georgia, and I’m going to go see them play in Florida. It’s a shame we don’t get to do that. I would have loved it when I was coaching high school football. I think the rules are restrictive, and I think it’s unfortunate. I don’t think it does any of those kids a favor.”
In recent years, Ohio State has taken more of a national approach in recruiting. It has picked up kids from California, Texas, Florida and Georgia. Each of those states has football. The Class of 2017 had the fewest Ohio natives in an Ohio State recruiting class as well as the smallest percentage. Just 7 of the 21 players the Buckeyes signed hailed from Ohio, and one of those actually finished his high school career in Florida.
“I think it makes it harder to evaluate (Ohio prospects),” Coombs said. “If I’m a high school player who’s played 3 years of spring football at my high school, I’ve got that many more plays and that many more reps. When I do get to college, I’ve got those under my belt. I don’t know what the studies are on that. We’ve had great success with the players that have come from Ohio, and we’re going to keep recruiting the tar out of them. I’d just love to see them play right now.”
Coombs was in favor of spring practice as a high school coach, too, which makes him pretty well qualified to speak on this subject. So if both high school and college coaches want to see a change, what’s stopping it? Currently, it seems as though administrators are stuck on how to implement spring football without hurting other sports.
“My honest opinion is that I don’t know that the leadership of those organizations that get to make those decisions are necessarily football-minded folks,” Coombs said. “I think that can be a detriment. I also think they think football already is popular enough in the state of Ohio. All I would say is that if I were a parent of a kid, I’d want to know why would you hold my kid back from being excellent at what he wants to do? Why would you deny him the opportunity to be the best in the country at what he wants to do? The way to do that is to go out there and play.”
New offer to 2018 tight end
Ohio State offered a scholarship Wednesday to Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood 3-star tight end Kyle Pitts.
— KyleAnthonyPitts3️⃣ (@ghost_boi4) April 19, 2017
Pitts already held offers from Alabama, Florida, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma, among others. The Buckeyes will likely try to take 2 tight ends in this class. As such, this offer shouldn’t be viewed as either a reflection of their status with Jeremy Ruckert, the No. 1 tight end in that class, or something that could affect Ohio State’s chances with Ruckert down the road.
You can view Pitts’ junior year highlights below.
Luke Fickell lands a beast
This does not necessarily pertain to Ohio State recruiting in a direct sense, but I think it’s noteworthy all the same. On Tuesday, Fairfield, Ohio, 4-star defensive end Malik Vann committed to Cincinnati, where he’ll play for former Ohio State coach Luke Fickell.
— Malik Vann❕ (@MalikVann7) April 18, 2017
Vann’s commitment is noteworthy for the impact Cincinnati could eventually have on recruiting in Ohio. It shows that Fickell might be able to pull some surprises in the Queen City. Vann had offers from Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma and ended up choosing Cincinnati. He didn’t have an Ohio State offer, but he was still highly regarded.