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.
The latest on Christopher Oats
Multiple reports Thursday, which were confirmed by Land of 10, indicated that Cincinnati Winton Woods linebacker Christopher Oats will not be taking a scheduled official visit to Ohio State this weekend — the final official visit weekend before National Signing Day. Oats, a 4-star prospect, was expected to visit Columbus before announcing his college decision Wednesday.
Obviously, this sudden change represents a sea change in Oats’ recruitment and comes as a big surprise. I was among a group that had counted Oats as a shoe-in to join the Buckeyes’ top-ranked 2018 recruiting class.
So what changed? Nearly everybody counted out Kentucky too soon.
Oats seemed set to follow in the footsteps of many other Ohio recruits before him — take a late official visit to Ohio State and join at the last minute. Ohio State has consistently been able to bring in Ohio natives late in the recruiting process, and those recruits were willing to wait until the Buckeyes gave them the go-ahead to commit once recruiting boards were settled.
When Oats declined to sign during the early signing period and then announced plans in January to take a last-minute official visit to Ohio State, he seemed like a lock to follow that pattern.
However, Kentucky recruiting coordinator and Ohio recruiting ace Vince Marrow has built a strong relationship with Oats over nearly two years. Kentucky has told Oats for months and months that Ohio State was treating him as a backup plan. Oats now is expected to take an unofficial visit to Kentucky this weekend, following up on his official visit to Lexington in December.
Are things completely dead in the water between Oats and Ohio State? I think there’s a slim chance that the Buckeyes get this back on track and convince Oats to take an official visit to Columbus, but it’s a very slim chance and it wouldn’t be a guarantee that he ends up at Ohio State. Unless Ohio State makes that visit happen, it will not land Oats.
Javontae Jean-Baptiste to visit SEC school
An interesting side effect of Oats’ departure is that it likely will allow Ohio State to push forward on a heavier pursuit of New Jersey defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste. If you’re not familiar with Ohio State’s recruitment of Jean-Baptiste and its twists and turns, here’s a brief recap:
- The Buckeyes issued a surprise offer to Jean-Baptiste on Jan. 9
- Jean-Baptiste immediately scheduled an Ohio State official visit for Jan. 19
- Jean-Baptiste made an official visit to Nebraska on Jan. 12
- Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano made an in-home visit with Jean-Baptiste on Jan. 16
- On Jan. 19, Jean-Baptiste made his long-awaited official visit to Ohio State
- Jean-Baptiste’s recruitment began to trend toward Nebraska
- On Thursday, Feb. 1, Jean-Baptiste received an in-home visit from Urban Meyer
Jean-Baptiste has been trending toward Nebraska since his official visit to Ohio State. At that time, Ohio State was unwilling to push for Jean-Baptiste’s commitment, as the Buckeyes appeared to be on the fence with other prospects. Now that Oats is trending toward Kentucky and Ohio State is out on several other prospects (DJ Brown, Maurice Washington, Patrick Surtain Jr., Tyson Campbell and Solomon Tuliaupupu have fallen off the Buckeyes recruiting board), I think that Jean-Baptiste’s status with the Buckeyes will change.
Meyer’s in-home visit with Jean-Baptiste and the accompaniment of Schiano — shortly after visits by Nebraska’s Scott Frost, Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher — is an attempt to get back in the saddle in this recruitment. Of course, they’re not alone. Per Jean-Baptiste’s coach, Nunzio Campanile, the 4-star prospect is now planning to take an official visit to A&M this weekend, likely with his mother.
I think it’s better for Ohio State the longer this recruitment goes and the more distance is put between the defensive end and Nebraska. By Feb. 7, Jean-Baptiste will be nearly two full weeks removed from his in-home visit with Frost and nearly a month removed from his official visit to Lincoln.
If Ohio State decides to put on a full-court press with Meyer, Schiano and Larry Johnson, this is still a recruitment they can win. If they don’t go all out, I would expect Jean-Baptiste to end up at Nebraska, with Texas A&M as a dark horse. This will be a situation to monitor.
Of course, going to Bergen Catholic to see Jean-Baptiste was not the only stop that Meyer and Schiano made in New Jersey on Thursday.
— DePaul Football (@dpfootball) February 1, 2018
Wayne DePaul Catholic and Ramsey Don Bosco Prep, two private-school powerhouses in New Jersey, also received visits from Meyer and Schiano.
The prospect of note at DePaul is 4-star athlete Ronnie Hickman, a 2019 athlete who likely will play safety at the next level. Hickman holds offers from many of the country’s top programs — Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan, Florida State, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and so on.
Sources close to the recruitment spoke with Land of 10 and said that they feel Ohio State is the team to beat for the impressive prospect. Hickman is fresh off of a junior day visit to Notre Dame and may be visiting Ohio State this weekend, although the trip has not been confirmed. He fits the mold of the long, athletic, physical defensive backs the Buckeyes have pursued in the past, although Hickman could find himself as a wide receiver at the next level.
At Don Bosco, home of 2018 Ohio State commit Tyler Friday, the Buckeyes issued an offer to a prospect in the Class of 2020. Six-foot, 175-pound athlete/running back Jalen Berger landed an offer from the Buckeyes. Berger already has offers from Alabama, Michigan, Florida, Nebraska, Michigan State, Penn State, and many others.
Extremely blessed to receive an offer from The Ohio State University❗️❗️ Dream come true🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/inKTmwj0eg
— Jalen Berger (@JalenBerger) February 1, 2018
Buckeyes make top 6 for 2019 star
Stafford (Va.) running back Devyn Ford announced Thursday a top six group that included Ohio State. Ford, a 5-11, 185-pound prospect in the Class of 2019, is ranked as the country’s No. 63 overall prospect, No. 4 running back, and No. 2 prospect in Virginia, according to the 247Sports composite.
Top 6️⃣ no order ‼️ pic.twitter.com/vMWUjzAYXc
— Damonte’ 🌊 (@TsunamiFord) February 1, 2018
Ford listed Ohio State alongside Virginia Tech, Clemson, Penn State, Oklahoma and North Carolina. He has held an offer from Ohio State since August 2016. Ford has visited Ohio State twice, but it’s been more than a year since he’s been to Columbus. The Virginia native saw the Buckeyes defeat Michigan in overtime in the 2016 edition of The Game and returned in January 2017 for a junior day visit.
“It’s just the environment,” Ford said about Ohio State, speaking with Fredericksburg.com’s Taft Coghill Jr. “I fell in love with it when I went to see one of the games. The people there are really fun. I have a great relationship with [running backs coach] Tony Alford and Urban Meyer. It’s pretty cool up there.”
Virginia Tech, Clemson and Penn State are expected to be Ohio State’s main competition for Ford.
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