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Ohio State hosts major prospect camp
No matter how recruiting changes with the advent of new social media or constantly changing NCAA regulations, you can guarantee that Ohio State’s June prospect camps will draw hundreds of football players from around the state and country to campus every summer.
Ohio State opened up camp season on Friday with a robust list of campers — reportedly as many as 700 prospects were in attendance according to one source close to the program. Here are some of the most important attendees. Unless otherwise noted, all of these players hold an offer from the program.
I know the list is a little overwhelming, so I’ll provide detail and context below and break this down by position:
- 2019 3-star quarterback Justin Fomby — Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett — Has not been offered
- 2019 4-star running back Sampson James — Avon (Ind.) — Ohio State commit
- 2019 3-star running back Kay’Ron Adams — Warren (Ohio) Harding — Has not been offered
- 2019 4-star wide receiver Lance Wilhoite — Nashville (Tenn.) Franklin Road Academy
- 2019 3-star wide receiver Trevon Raphael — Solon (Ohio) — Has not been offered
- 2019 3-star tight end Nick Gallo — Southampton (Pa.) Council Rock South — Has not been offered
- 2019 3-star tight end Justin Stephens — Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) — Has not been offered
- 2019 3-star tight end Tyler Foster — Pickerington (Ohio) Central — Has not been offered
- 2019 3-star tackle Jonathan Allen — Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar
- 2019 4-star defensive tackle Tyler Davis — Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva
- 2019 3-star defensive end Dontay Hunter — Westerville (Ohio) Central — Has not been offered
- 2019 3-star linebacker Joey Velazquez — Columbus (Ohio) St. Francis DeSales — Has not been offered
- 2019 4-star cornerback Woodi Washington — Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Oakland
- 2019 4-star cornerback Adonis Otey — Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Blackman
- 2019 3-star cornerback Renardo Green — Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva — Florida State commit
- 2019 3-star safety Jamal Hill — Morrow (Ga.) — Has not been offered
- 2020 quarterback Riley Keller — Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer — Has not been offered
- 2020 quarterback Evan Prater — Cincinnati (Ohio) Wyoming — Has not been offered
- 2020 quarterback Roman Purcell — Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central — Has not been offered
- 2020 tackle Trey LeRoux — Monroeville (Ohio) — Has not been offered
- 2020 athlete Ethan Wright — Akron (Ohio) Manchester — Has not been offered
- 2021 wide receiver Jayden Ballard — Massillon (Ohio) Washington
- 2021 guard Garrett Dellinger — Clarkston (Mich.)
- 2021 tackle Blake Fisher — Avon (Ind.) — Has not been offered
- 2021 defensive end Jack Sawyer — Pickerington (Ohio) North
- 2021 safety Derrick Davis Jr. — Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
- 2022 quarterback Quinn Ewers — Southlake (Texas) Carroll
Quarterback: It was not a great day among the quarterbacks. None of Ohio State’s offered prospects were on campus, though an eighth grader, Quinn Ewers, added an offer from the Buckeyes after throwing. Keller and Prater will be in-state targets for the Buckeyes in 2020 and Power 5 quarterbacks, but I don’t see either landing an offer. Fomby was the lone 2019 QB of note and had a good, but not great, day.
Running back: James, Ohio State’s top running back commit, was on campus, joined by his high school coach and 2021 teammate Fisher. He didn’t go through full workouts, which was by design, so no evaluation from me. Adams, an in-state 2019 running back, had a solid day and should be a Power 5 kid, but won’t play for the Buckeyes.
Wide receiver: The best wide receiver on Friday, by a massive margin, was Ballard, who just finished his freshman year at Massillon. He’s a player whose name you know if you frequently read Dotting the ‘Eyes. His catch radius, hands, athleticism and body control blew me away. He has the look of a nationally elite wide receiver recruit. Ballard made some purely silly grabs along the sideline. He’s the next great one at Massillon.
Beyond Ballard, the two other names to know are Wilhoite and Raphael. Wilhoite is among the dozen or so 2019 receivers who have a real chance to end up at Ohio State, and he seems like he has a spot right now, but he did not overly impress me during camp. His hands were inconsistent. Raphael is a similar story — he fought the football and did not catch it cleanly, but his athletic profile is tremendous. He may be the top receiver in Ohio in 2019, but I’m not sure the Buckeyes can afford to take him and wait for him to develop.
Tight end: Gallo blew away the field. Virginia Tech leads for the Philadelphia-area native, but I could see an Ohio State offer coming down the road. The Buckeyes have struggled to find a fit at tight end, and Gallo could be a solution. Stephens and Foster, a pair of in-state 2019 guys, looked good for different reasons, but I don’t see the Buckeyes offering either.
Offensive line: Woof, not a great day here. The only prospect you need to know among the offensive linemen is Jonathan Allen, the in-state tackle who Ohio State offered in the spring. To paraphrase Dennis Green, he is who we thought he was. Allen is a great athlete who moves very well for his size and has quick feet, but has no clue how to play offensive line. The Buckeyes knew that coming into the camp and were not surprised by it, so I don’t think it will impact his status and I still expect him to end up in the class. Dellinger also landed an offer during camp.
Defensive line: It was a big day for defensive linemen, particularly Florida defensive tackle Tyler Davis. Ohio State doesn’t like many defensive tackles in the 2019 class, but they like Davis a lot. It’s a Buckeyes/Clemson battle for the somewhat undersized 3-technique, and I think Ohio State has the edge after Davis spent all day working with Larry Johnson. I’ve submitted a Crystal Ball pick in Ohio State’s favor for Davis.
At defensive end, Sawyer blew me away. He was the first in-state freshman to land a Buckeyes offer in quite some time and looked phenomenal on Friday. Sawyer’s quickness and explosion are phenomenal, and he’s added serious muscle over the offseason. He has 5-star potential, and I expect Ohio State to land him. Working out alongside him was Hunter, who I don’t expect the Bucks to offer.
Linebacker: The only linebacker of note to work out for Ohio State on Friday was Velazquez, a local prospect. Velazquez is a Buckeyes commit, but not for the football program. He is the top baseball player in the state, but I don’t think he’ll play on the diamond. I expect Velazquez to be a Michigan commit for the Viper position, a linebacker/safety hybrid, at some point this summer.
Defensive back: Defensive back was the most loaded position group on Friday. Green landed an offer after his performance, and Hill placed himself on the radar after his. Tennessee natives Otey and Washington both worked out to confirm their status as top tier prospects. 2021 phenom Derrick Davis cemented, in the minds of the Ohio State staff, that he is a prospect worth prioritizing for the next three years.
Washington was of particular interest to me. I have submitted a Crystal Ball prediction in Ohio State’s favor for Washington after his camp stop, though Florida State (where he’s visiting Sunday), Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame are also in the mix. I think the Buckeyes can get Washington if they want him. I view Otey as a little lower on the board.
Davis received a ton of personal attention from the staff. Recruiting coordinator Mark Pantoni, defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Greg Schiano and Urban Meyer himself all pulled Davis and his father aside for lengthy 1-on-1 chats. There’s no question of Davis’ talent or Ohio State’s interest, just what position he plays. I expect Davis to grow into a linebacker, but safety remains a possibility. This recruitment will be a Penn State/Ohio State battle.
Other top prospects make it to Ohio State’s campus
Aside from the top prospects who actually worked out for the Buckeyes’ camp, a number of other players were on hand to simply spend time around the coaching staff or get to know the Ohio State program better. Unless otherwise noted, all of these players hold an offer from the program:
- 2019 4-star center Harry Miller — Buford (Ga.) — Ohio State commit
- 2019 4-star cornerback Kaiir Elam — North Palm Beach (Fla.) The Benjamin School
- 2019 4-star safety Brendan Gant — Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen
- 2019 4-star linebacker Rian Davis — Apopka (Fla.) Wekiva
- 2019 tight end/wide receiver Trevon Morgan — Massillon (Ohio) Washington — Has not been offered
- 2020 4-star guard Luke Wypler — Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph Regional
Miller committed to Ohio State earlier in the year, but announced his decision publicly following a surprise unofficial visit to Columbus. The Buckeyes beat out Stanford, Georgia, Clemson and Notre Dame for Miller, and you can read my analysis of his decision here.
Ohio State has started gaining major traction with Elam. Florida, where Meyer recruited Elam’s uncle and NFL safety Matt Elam in the 2010 class, is the favorite for the 4-star cornerback, but the Buckeyes are making a move and might be running second. With nearly 40 offers, Elam is one of the best cornerback prospects in his class and a player who would fit well with the Buckeyes.
Other than Elam, I consider the top cornerback targets for Ohio State in 2019 to be fellow Florida products Jordan Battle and John Dixon, the aforementioned Tennessee duo of Washington and Otey, Pennsylvania native MJ Devonshire and perhaps Zion Puckett, a Georgia athlete who could be a receiver or corner.
Gant is a prospect who Ohio State has targeted for quite some time at safety, but I would be surprised to see him end anywhere besides Florida State. I hope to have more details here soon but have not yet spoken to Gant following his trip.
Davis visited alongside his aforementioned teammates, Green and the other Davis, but did not work out. He’s among the top linebacker prospects for the Buckeyes, but the coaching staff is not heavily prioritizing linebacker at the moment.
Ohio State has three players committed — Cade Stover, Ronnie Hickman and Steele Chambers — who have potential to play linebacker. Only Stover will end up there in my opinion, but this class has pieces that could be moved around if needed. As such, I’m not sure the staff will take another pure linebacker. If it does, the top offered candidates are Davis, Tennessee native Kane Patterson (who visited last week), fellow Floridian Marcus Tillman Jr. and Michigan product Lance Dixon.
Morgan had a collarbone injury at a camp in early May that has kept him out of offseason events since, but will not affect his ability to play this season. The Buckeyes are evaluating the in-state prospect, though I doubt he lands an offer.
Wypler is still early in his recruiting process, but I have the feeling that Ohio State is in the driver’s seat. Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Duke, North Carolina and others have impressed, but I’m told this is an offer Wypler badly desired, and his long-running relationship with Greg Schiano could be huge. Ohio State is also recruiting, but has not offered, his high school teammate and 2020 quarterback Michael Alaimo.
Ohio State makes the top group for 3 offered prospects
Two offered Ohio State prospects released their top schools list over the weekend, and the Buckeyes made the cut for both.
Four-star wide receiver David Bell, a product of Indianapolis Warren Central, listed Ohio State in his top 5. It was an all-B1G affair as the Buckeyes were joined by Purdue, Iowa, Penn State and Indiana. Bell is ranked as the No. 103 overall prospect and No. 16 wide receiver in the 2019 class.
It’s been an interesting story between Bell and the Buckeyes. You could argue that Ohio State has led bell-to-bell (pun fully intended) for the blue-chip receiver since offering, and even before. Still, it has not yet pressed for Bell’s commitment. He’s among the top tier of receiver targets in the 2019 class, but is joined by at least five other wideouts in that group. I have a Crystal Ball prediction that Ohio State lands Bell, but if it passes on the Indiana standout, his choice will come down to Purdue and Iowa.
Ohio State also made the cut for 3-star Virginia athlete Tayvion Robinson, who will not play for the Buckeyes. He included the program alongside Nebraska, Maryland, Virginia Tech, Virginia and South Carolina. The Hokies are the favorite here and Ohio State never seriously pursued him.
Four-star Georgia running back Derrian Brown also included Ohio State in his top group, a list of 10 schools that features many of the nation’s best programs. Brown is a teammate of new Buckeyes commit Miller, but I would be incredibly surprised if he landed at Ohio State. With James and Chambers in the fold, the Buckeyes are set at running back unless a nationally elite player such as Noah Cain wants in.
Take ’em off the board
Two Ohio State prospects committed elsewhere since we last spoke on Thursday.
Marcus Hicks, a 4-star defensive end from Kansas, committed to Oklahoma on Friday over Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma State and several other major programs. The 2019 prospect had over 20 offers from many of the country’s blue-chip programs. Hicks was an early target for Ohio State, but I wouldn’t describe him as a priority. Most of Johnson’s recruiting efforts at defensive end are focused on 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison and similarly talented prospects.
Marcus Banks, a 3-star cornerback from Houston, committed to LSU on Sunday over Texas, Texas A&M, Alabama, Ohio State and others. The Buckeyes offered in May and Banks showed interest, but did not make it to campus before announcing a decision. The timing of Banks’ announcement and his pick of LSU over Texas A&M were both surprises, but the fact that Ohio State did not land him was not.
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.