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 a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Ohio State getting return visit from 5-star LB prospect
Ohio State has been hot on the trail of 2019 5-star linebacker Brandon Smith. The Mineral (Va.) Louisa County star is rated as the No. 1 inside linebacker in his class by the 247Sports composite. He also checks in as the No. 1 recruit in Virginia and the No. 19 prospect overall.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect is a freaky athlete with the potential to transition down to defensive end or move to stand-up edge rusher. But the Buckeyes largely are recruiting him as a linebacker. Louisa County’s spring break quickly is approaching, and Smith will use the time to take several unofficial visits, he informed Land of 10.
Smith’s break runs from this Saturday to April 8, and he will take multiple trips. That includes an expected April 6 stop in Columbus. Trips also are expected to Penn State, Michigan and Notre Dame. While those are all unofficial, Smith also told Land of 10’s Tyler Donohue that he has scheduled an April 20-22 official visit to Texas A&M.
With nearly 30 offers, including Ohio State, Penn State, Alabama, Clemson, Florida State and other elite programs, Smith will have difficult decisions. He is expected to commit before his senior season or shortly after it begins.
Young Michigan receiver discusses Ohio State
On Monday, Ohio State hosted a large contingent of visitors from West Bloomfield (Mich.). The group included 4-star 2019 OLB Lance Dixon, 2020 wide receiver Christian Fitzpatrick, 2020 safety Makari Paige, 2020 linebacker Cornell Wheeler and 2021 ATH Donovan Edwards.
Dixon, Fitzpatrick, Wheeler and Paige hold multiple Power 5 offers. Dixon already has been offered by the Buckeyes, part of Ohio State’s expanded efforts in Michigan in recent years, and the other three should be legitimate candidates to add that offer to their lists.
After the group’s visit, I caught up with Fitzpatrick, a 6-3, 203-pound receiver and the younger brother of Dez Fitzpatrick, a 2016 grad and redshirt sophomore wide receiver at Louisville.
“That was my first visit to Ohio State,” Fitzpatrick said. “Practice was very cool to watch and was very well controlled and at a high intensity. I met with Coach [Zach] Smith in the [wide receiver] meeting room after practice, and Coach [Urban] Meyer invited us in his office afterward.”
Louisville, Indiana, Boston College, Illinois and Syracuse are Fitzpatrick’s first handful of Power 5 offers, but the Michigan native would love to add Ohio State to his list — and is willing to work to get to that point.
“I think they’re very knowledgeable and know how to develop players to their best. I could definitely see myself going there and learning much from them,” Fitzpatrick said. “They haven’t mentioned an offer yet, but I plan on camping as of now.”
Ohio State won’t be the only place that Fitzpatrick auditions for an offer. He has an ambitious schedule planned for the summer.
“I don’t plan on taking many visits, but I do plan on camping a few places — Ohio State, Syracuse, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Notre Dame and Central Michigan so far,” Fitzpatrick told Land of 10.
As noted above, Fitzpatrick’s older brother Dez is entering his sophomore season at Louisville. He redshirted during the 2016 season but had a breakout year in 2017 for the Cardinals. The older Fitzpatrick had 45 receptions for 699 yards and 9 touchdowns in 12 games. Christian has been following Dez’s lead and taking advice from his older brother.
“[Dez] just told me to have fun and enjoy my visit,” Fitzpatrick said. “He also said to pay attention in the position meeting and try to get a feel for the offense and see if I could see myself playing in an offense like that, and I definitely can.”
Columbus well-represented at Ohio State practice
The Columbus area was well-represented at practice Wednesday. The Buckeyes hosted several local prospects, including Westerville (Ohio) Central defensive end Dontay Hunter. Hunter is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive end and one of the most well-regarded defensive linemen in a loaded year at the position group in Ohio. He holds more than a dozen offers, including Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Indiana and Rutgers.
Hunter also will make an unofficial visit to Michigan on Thursday. Land of 10 expects to speak to him after both visits conclude. He already is collecting Power 5 offers, but Hunter appears to be on the verge of adding even more major offers.
Pickerington (Ohio) North teammates Christopher Scott and Ben Johnson visited Ohio State together with some of the Panthers’ coaches. Scott is a 2020 receiver who is waiting on his first offer, but he has the look of a slam-dunk Power 5 prospect. Johnson is a 2019 linebacker who has a Miami (Ohio) offer.
Ohio State signed 2018 defensive lineman/athlete Alex Williams from Pickerington North in the 2018 class. Scott seems to have a real chance for an offer from the Buckeyes, but perhaps the likeliest prospect at the school to be a future Ohio State target is 2021 athlete Jack Sawyer.
Sawyer, a 6-5, 200-pound freshman, already holds offers from Michigan, Penn State, Michigan State, Pitt, Kentucky, Maryland and Cincinnati. He could play linebacker, defensive line or tight end in college. Sawyer seems like a near-lock to eventually receive an offer from the Buckeyes.
“I didn’t get to make it up because they told me that they wanted a better time when there wasn’t as many people around so I can get more time with the coaches and everybody,” Sawyer said.
Expect Sawyer to visit Ohio State soon and for the Pickerington area to continue producing elite talent for the foreseeable future.
Michigan pumps out offers in Ohio
Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program has offered 20 high school prospects in Ohio in the 2019, ’20 and ’21 recruiting classes, bucking a trend in which it seemed to have a decreased presence in the state. In their three recruiting classes from 2016-18, the Wolverines signed two scholarship prospects from Ohio: offensive linemen James Hudson and Joel Honigford.
The Wolverines have been expanding their efforts lately, offering several new prospects in Ohio. The most recent offers in the last few days have gone to 2020 Cincinnati Princeton linebacker Jaheim Thomas, 2019 Clayton (Ohio) Northmont defensive end Gabe Newburg and 2019 Columbus St. Francis DeSales athlete Joey Velazquez. You can read more about Velazquez’s offer — the local prospect is an Ohio State baseball commit, and Michigan has offered him for both sports.
It is hard to say how serious all of these offers from Michigan are or how much time Harbaugh and Co. are spending actively recruiting some of the Ohio prospects not regarded as elite. But their increased presence in the state lately is interesting to watch.
Ohio State makes top group for Louisiana athlete
Ohio State has made the top 12 for a top-100 prospect. Amite (La.) wide receiver Devonta Lee is regarded as the No. 66 prospect overall in 2019 and the No. 13 wide receiver in the class.
The Buckeyes were joined by LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Top 12 pic.twitter.com/yg1CfqmFQm
— Devonta Lee (@DevontaleeLee) March 28, 2018
Miss a day of the Ohio State recruiting notebook? Don’t fret! You can get all of the previous versions of Dotting the Eyes here.