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What final official visit weekend means for Ohio State
Do you all remember that old ’90s computer game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? The one where you had to track down this mysterious woman in a red hat and blazer as she was traveling across the world and often didn’t want to be found? That’s kind of what the final official visit weekend for the 2018 recruiting class will be like for recruiting analysts.
College football coaches are still trying to land, flip or hang on to commitments from prospects across America and airlines surely are full of oversized teenage football players criss-crossing the map on flights to their final official visit destinations.
Ohio State is slated to host two official visitors this weekend, including 5-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere as part of the search to land another highly recruited offensive lineman. Petit-Frere was expected to arrive on campus Friday. He’ll have the full and undivided attention of the coaching staff for much of the weekend. The other official visitor, running back Tavion Thomas, won’t be able to join Petit-Frere in Columbus until at least Saturday night and quite possibly not until Sunday morning.
Although Petit-Frere and Thomas are the only prospects making official visits to Ohio State this weekend, they’re not the only prospects who will be relevant for Buckeyes fans. As reported in Dotting the Eyes on Thursday, 2019 New Jersey athlete Ronnie Hickman will be making an unofficial visit to Ohio State beginning on Friday. Hickman is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete who seems likely to play defensive back at the next level. His 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions currently read 100 percent in the favor of the Buckeyes, which certainly matches everything I’ve heard from sources close to the recruitment.
— Ronnie Hickman (@asvprocket_) February 2, 2018
2019 cornerback Cam’Ron Kelly, a 4-star prospect from Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith, also is making an unofficial visit to campus. Kelly was offered by Ohio State on Dec. 12 and this will be his first trip to campus since landing the scholarship offer, although he did see the Buckeyes defeat Penn State in Ohio Stadium on Oct. 28. Kelly also holds offers Alabama, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Penn State and many other elite programs.
— Cam'Ron Kelly (@CamRonJKelly) February 2, 2018
In addition to the four visiting prospects, Ohio State will be closely monitoring at least three other recruits over the next several days.
New Jersey defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste is making his fifth and final official visit, to Texas A&M. The 4-star prospect previously visited Virginia Tech, Boston College, Ohio State and Nebraska.
The visit comes on the heels of late involvement from Texas A&M under the guidance of new coach Jimbo Fisher, who made an in-home visit with Jean-Baptiste on Wednesday. Jean-Baptiste’s recruitment is locked in as a Nebraska-Ohio State battle with Texas A&M as a dark horse. Nebraska is the favorite for Jean-Baptiste.
Ohio linebacker Christopher Oats also will be one to watch. In all likelihood, the 4-star prospect from Cincinnati Winton Woods has spurned Ohio State and there will be no further contact between the two parties as National Signing Day draws closer.
The only way I could see that changing is if Oats ultimately decides to change his mind and visit Ohio State this weekend, regardless of his currently canceled plans. Additionally, there have been rumors of Oats making an unofficial visit to Kentucky this weekend, which would make it clear that Ohio State has no chance to change his mind.
Ohio State’s fifth and final remaining target in the 2018 recruiting class is Waldorf (Md.) North Point tackle Rasheed Walker.
Rasheed Walker previews his decision
Walker released a preview video of his pending college decision Friday afternoon. Walker received in-home visits this week from the coaches of his three finalists: Justin Fuente and members of the Virginia Tech staff went in-home on Tuesday; Urban Meyer and his assistants followed on Wednesday; and James Franklin and Penn State coaches rounded out the group on Thursday evening.
Walker has taken all of his planned official visits and will use this final weekend to sit down with family and those close to him before announcing his decision on National Signing Day, Feb. 7.
— Rasheed Walker (@Cin5oTre3) February 2, 2018
In the video, Walker discusses what he likes about Virginia Tech, Penn State and Ohio State. He shared a story about the first time he met Meyer during a prospect camp in Columbus.
“I like [Ohio State’s] campus because it’s in the city,” Walker said. “It’s more lively and there’s more stuff to do. They also get you right and they send people to the league a lot. They take care of you down there.
“The first time I met Urban Meyer, I remember I was doing one-on-ones and they were saying, ‘The big dog’s coming out, the big dog’s coming out!’ Coach Meyer was one of the coaches that I knew because it’s like, it’s him and Nick Saban and they just run it. They run it. At the end of the camp, we were about to do one-on-ones and I’d seen Coach Meyer and my heart started beating and everything. I was like, ‘I can’t lose, I can’t lose!’
“Then coach Larry Johnson, he told me that Coach Meyer wanted to talk with me. So I’m, ‘Me? Urban wants to meet with me?’ At the end of the camp, I was standing outside Coach Meyer’s office and my heart was just beating and I’m like, ‘Dang, I wonder what’s he going to ask me. Is he going to interrogate me? Is he going to be nice? Is he going to be mean?’ At the time, I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was, but now when I look back at it, that was a big thing.”
Walker’s recruitment is expected to come down to a choice between Penn State and Ohio State. It’s a neck-and-neck battle between the divisional rivals and Big Ten powerhouses, although Penn State seems to have the advantage after leading for Walker for most of his recruitment.
New offers from Buckeyes
As the January evaluation period winds down, Ohio State has issued several offers over the last two days. Ready for a rundown? Here we go.
2o19 Connecticut defensive back Tyler Rudolph added an offer from Ohio State. The 6-1, 197-pound teammate of recently offered 2020 defensive tackle Tre Williams adds his Ohio State offer to a list that includes Penn State, Michigan, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Boston College, Maryland and others.
— TR (@Tylerrudolph01) February 2, 2018
2020 Georgia defensive end Myles Murphy has a chance to get offers from nearly every major program in the country. Just a sophomore, the 6-4, 230-pound prospect can put Ohio State on an offer list that also includes Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan and South Carolina.
— Myles Murphy (@BigMurphy_25) February 1, 2018
Arizona isn’t among Ohio State’s most heavily recruited states, but the Buckeyes extended another offer in the Southwest to Chandler tight end Brayden Liebrock. Ohio State should jump to the top of the offer list for the 6-5, 220-pound Liebrock, who also counts offers from Arizona State, Cal-Berkeley, Memphis and Nevada.
— Brayden Liebrock (@LiebrockBrayden) February 2, 2018
Virginia native Jakai Moore is one of the country’s most physically impressive offensive lineman and the 6-6, 295-pound prospect added an offer from the Buckeyes. Moore’s Ohio State offer joins a list that includes Virginia Tech, Penn State, Louisville, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Wake Forest and Old Dominion.
Blessed to receive my 11th offer from Ohio State❕❗️💢 pic.twitter.com/hxRDNyiIZn
— Jakai Moore (@jdamonsa) February 2, 2018
Another 2019 defensive lineman to land an offer from the Buckeyes is 6-6, 225-pound Louisiana end Billy Sonnier. He also holds offers from TCU, Miami (Fla.), Penn State, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky and other programs.
— Billy Sonnier (@BillySonnier2) February 2, 2018
Chaz Chambliss, a Georgia linebacker in the Class of 2021, became just the third freshman in the country to earn an offer from Ohio State. Chambliss is already 6-3 and 220 pounds and will be among the country’s top recruits. Ohio State joins Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, South Carolina, UCF and Georgia Southern in offering Chambliss.
— Chaz Chambliss (@ChazChambliss) February 2, 2018
2020 Lakeland (Fla.) running back Demarkcus Bowman added an offer from Ohio State after a visit from Buckeyes running back coach Tony Alford at his high school. Bowman holds offers from Ohio State, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Oregon and Syracuse.
— Bowman⚓️ (@Bowman_22) February 1, 2018
2019 Calabasas (Calif.) wide receiver Mycah Pittman added Ohio State to an offer list that includes many of the top programs nationally and on the West Coast. USC, UCLA, Cal-Berkeley, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Texas A&M and many others have offered the 4-star prospect.
— mycah pittman '19 (@MycahPittman) February 1, 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.