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The latest on Ohio State’s tight end recruiting
Ohio State’s efforts to recruit a tight end in the 2019 class have not yielded fruit, but there is clarity approaching for the Buckeyes as this recruiting cycle moves along.
The Buckeyes have offered 13 tight ends; eight of them remain uncommitted. Of those eight, two players — Keon Zipperer and Hudson Henry — have never really gotten off the ground with Ohio State and don’t seem to be realistic options for co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson.
That leaves six remaining prospects we must consider.
Let’s start with two players who feel unlikely to end up at Ohio State.
South Carolina tight end Luke Deal is approaching a commitment date on Friday that will see Ohio State as one of the finalists. However, I feel that Auburn, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan are all tracking ahead of the Buckeyes. I would be surprised if Deal selected Ohio State.
California tight end Jude Wolfe also has scheduled a commitment date, albeit a ways down the road on Aug. 3. Though he has expressed interest in Ohio State, he has never visited campus. An official visit to USC is his only scheduled trip, and I expect the Trojans to land Wolfe.
Ohio State is in the mix for two more California tight ends — players I consider to be somewhat unlikely, but who remain as options.
Isaiah Foskey, the No. 6 tight end nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings, visited Ohio State in early April and told Land of 10 that the Buckeyes “stack up pretty high” among his top schools and expects them to make the formal cut whenever he releases that. However, Foskey has visited approximately a million schools and won’t be deciding any time in the near future. The Buckeyes may want to have a tight end committed before he’s ready to choose.
Ethan Rae, the No. 7 tight end, plays at Orange Lutheran, where Ohio State also has offered quarterback Ryan Hilinski and wide receiver Kyle Ford. Rae’s offer is recent, and he has never visited Ohio State. I tend to bet against prospects from the West Coast coming to Columbus until they schedule a visit. But it’ll be game on if and when that happens.
Finally, Ohio State appears to be in great shape for two Midwest tight ends.
Though he’s listed as a wide receiver, the Buckeyes consider Craig Young to have a real chance to play tight end in college. He’s not polished as a receiver, but as a tight end, his speed and ability to get vertical are matchup issues for defenses. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound prospect is a field-stretcher with elite track speed from Indiana. Young recently included the Buckeyes in his top 5.
Jahleel Billingsley of Chicago’s Phillips Academy, a 4-star tight end, is the player I would most comfortably describe as Ohio State’s top tight end priority. It feels like Illinois has seized momentum for Billingsley, but I’m not particularly sure a commitment to the Illini by top prospects will matter until the team proves it can manage a winning record this decade. Florida, Ohio State and Michigan are all in the mix here.
If none of those prospects end up at Ohio State, or even if the Buckeyes go in a different direction, the staff is watching and evaluating several in-state prospects.
Kevin Wilson evaluated 6-6, 240-pound Trotwood-Madison tight end Justin Stephens, a converted basketball player, on Thursday at the Rams’ workouts. Stephens is athletic and has excellent size, but has played only one year of high school football.
Fairfield’s Erick All is the No. 2-rated tight end in Ohio and a player who has accumulated a national offer list, just not Ohio State. All is an impressive pass catcher and very athletic, but he’s on the smaller side and a more soft-spoken, reserved kid. Size and attitude tend to be important evaluation factors for Urban Meyer’s staff.
Jordan Kirkbride of Columbus Bishop Hartley is another name to remember, though he does not appear to be as prominently placed on the Buckeyes’ radar as the other two. Still, he’s accumulated more than a dozen offers.
Tre’Von Morgan of Massillon is listed as a wide receiver and it’s his preferred position, but I have a feeling the late-blooming 6-6, 215-pound prospect could be talked out of that if an Ohio State offer were involved. Morgan is raw and still coming together as a player as he grows into his body, but he has major upside.
Ohio State issues a new round of offers
The Buckeyes issued a round of new offers to some of the more intriguing underclassmen around the country recently.
Dominic Bass, a 6-4, 250-pound defensive tackle in the 2021 class, is just finishing his freshman year of high school. This is not what freshmen are expected to look like.
— Dominic Bass³⁴ (@dominic_bass) May 13, 2018
Bass plays at Chicago’s Phillips Academy, the same high school that is home to Billingsley. Ohio State recently joined his impressive offer list, which already included schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Auburn and other major Power 5 programs. He will be considered one of the top 2021 prospects in the Midwest.
Staying in Illinois, the Buckeyes offered 2020 wide receiver A.J. Henning of Lincoln-Way East. Henning is not physically imposing at 5-10 and 175 pounds, but he is an elite prospect. He is considered by 247Sports to be the No. 23 overall prospect and No. 4 wide receiver in the 2020 class. Ohio State joins an offer list that includes Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and most of the other usual suspects who recruit the Midwest heavily.
Ohio State also offered a 2020 Texas running back, Seth McGowan, of the delightfully named Mesquite Poteet. McGowan compiled more than 1,000 yards rushing in his sophomore season and has offers from programs such as Alabama, Oklahoma and Nebraska, in addition to Ohio State. The Buckeyes are offer No. 15 for McGowan.
More Ohio State targets invited to The Opening
The steady procession of invitations to The Opening Finals continues to go out around the country, and more Ohio State targets have booked their trip. Offensive linemen and wide receivers earned invitations the last time we went over the list, and now defensive backs have their due.
Two Florida cornerbacks with Ohio State offers have added their names to the roster.
West Palm Beach Wellington athlete Mark-Antony Richards, considered to be a defensive back by the Buckeyes, earned his invitation. He is ranked as the No. 81 overall recruit and No. 6 athlete in the 2019 class. Miami is the consensus favorite, but Ohio State is in the mix.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Jaden Davis, the No. 209 overall prospect and No. 21 cornerback, also earned an invitation. Davis has fallen down Ohio State’s board in recent months because of concerns over height and length, but he remains a target.
Here is the updated list of Ohio State’s commits and targets who are expected to head to the event.
- 5-star wide receiver Garrett Wilson (committed)
- 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison
- 5-star defensive end Nolan Smith II (Georgia commit)
- 5-star linebacker Brandon Smith
- 5-star safety Daxton Hill
- 5-star athlete Bru McCoy
- 4-star tackle Doug Nester (committed)
- 4-star center Harry Miller
- 4-star running back Noah Cain
- 4-star wide receiver DeMarcco Hellams
- 4-star wide receiver John Dunmore
- 4-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton
- 4-star wide receiver Lance Wilhoite
- 4-star tight end Jahleel Billingsley
- 4-star linebacker Rian Davis
- 4-star linebacker Lance Dixon
- 4-star safety Nick Cross
- 4-star safety Brendan Gant
- 4-star safety Jordan Battle
- 4-star cornerback Mark-Antony Richards
- 4-star cornerback Tyrique Stevenson
- 4-star cornerback Woodi Washington
- 4-star cornerback Jeffery Carter
- 4-star cornerback Erick Young
- 4-star cornerback Jaden Davis
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