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.
What’s up, Holmes?
There are some recruits who are just so good at the recruiting game – talking to media, saying exactly the right things, etc. – that it’s almost impossible to really know what they’re thinking. Darnay Holmes, the county’s second-ranked cornerback from California, definitely fits that bill.
On Wednesday, at media day here in San Antonio for Saturday’s U.S.Army All-American Bowl, Land of 10 spoke with Holmes for what is likely to be the final time before he makes a college choice. He told us that, as of right now, he still has not made a decision.
“It’s going to wait until my family gets up here,” Holmes told Land of 10. “So we can make this decision as a family.”
Throughout much of the recruiting process, at least the last six months, the rumors have tightly linked Holmes with UCLA. In the last month – almost directly after his official visit to Ohio State and a subsequent home visit from Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer – things have changed significantly, according to sources close to Holmes. As we approach a decision, the rumors are going to start up again — they always do.
Ohio State is not as confident on Holmes as they are with Jeffrey Okudah, but they still feel – both recruits and sources close to the program – that they’re in a good position.
My 247Sports.com “crystal ball” has been on Ohio State since December, and I’m not going to change it. I’ll go down with the ship if he chooses one of the hometown schools, knowing full well that he could. USC offers him a unique opportunity to win at home, and he’s maintained great relationships at UCLA for a while, but I’m going to stick with the Ohio State selection unless I’m told directly he’s not picking the Buckeyes.
Tufele very difficult to read
I also spoke with Jay Tufele on Wednesday and, as usual, he’s virtually impossible to “read.”
The country’s third-ranked defensive tackle spoke glowingly about his time at Ohio State and mentioned that the chance to win a national championship is what could help push him away from home, but you get the feeling he’s still leaning toward being on the West Coast(ish). Larry Johnson has been all over things with Tufele for months, and the 6-foot-3, 290-pound tackle said he’s never been in a place as loud as Ohio Stadium. There’s no doubt he has some positive feelings about Ohio State.
But BYU, Utah and USC are close to home, and as with Holmes, USC could check off two boxes. Ohio State was very close to landing Utah linebacker Porter Gustin in the 2015 class but he chose USC. The difference? The Buckeyes got into that race a bit later than this one.
Tate Martell, Wyatt Davis and Baron Browning have all singled out Tufele as a player of serious interest this week and that they’re actively recruiting.
He likely won’t decide until signing day, and if you watch the video linked above, you’ll see that it’s going to be pretty difficult to discern what Jay Tufele is thinking until then.
Some talk about Emory Jones
We’ll end tonight’s notebook with a little discussion about a player who is not here in San Antonio: 2018 5-star quarterback Emory Jones, who committed to Ohio State in July. On Tuesday, Jones reacted to a change at quarterback coach in Columbus, as Tim Beck will head to Texas.
“I already knew,” Jones said. “I’m all cool with it. I just have to talk with the new coaches and see how I feel, and just see how the offense does next season.”
That is the right answer, the polished answer, but I was told by two separate sources – one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday – that Jones has still been considering other schools even before the Beck news broke.
“Jones has been looking around,” one source, based in Georgia, shared. “He’s interested in schools like LSU, Florida, and was still looking at Clemson, but that’s not going to happen because of Trevor Lawrence committing there.”
So, curious, I asked another person who would know about this and his response was interesting.
“I knew other schools were coming after him,” the second source said. “There’s a chance he’s getting worried because of all the hype around Dwayne Haskins.”
Jones is the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 class and a player who is not likely to be “scared” of competition, but the return of J.T. Barrett to Ohio State does change the dynamics in the Buckeyes quarterback room just a bit. Barrett is the likely starter in 2017, and that means that Joe Burrow, Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell would all be competing with Jones for a spot in 2018. Burrow would be redshirt junior, Haskins a redshirt sophomore and Martell – likely – a redshirt freshman. It’s a crowded room but Jones knew all that before he committed.
The Franklin (Ga.) prospect said on Tuesday he was 100 percent committed to the Buckeyes still and I believe him, but in this type of recruitment, you should expect some dramatics. That may have already begun.