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New official visitor possibilities emerge
The weekend of Jan. 19 has looked to be a crucial one for the Ohio State Buckeyes for several weeks, and now it appears the weekend has gained even more significance. Ohio State has only a handful of spots to fill, at most, and the Buckeyes’ coaching staff likely will gain much more clarity on the outlook of the recruiting class after the coming weekend.
Before the visitors make their way to campus, the weekend will start with a commitment announcement from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep defensive lineman Tyler Friday, a 247Sports composite top 100 prospect in the 2018 class and a talented player with potential to line up at a number of spots. Friday is scheduled to announce a commitment to Ohio State, Michigan, or Alabama on Friday at 2 p.m. in his high school’s auditorium, and the Buckeyes appear to be a heavy favorite. Friday’s potential commitment could give Ohio State a serious momentum boost heading into the official visit weekend.
Another key New Jersey prospect,Javontae Jean-Baptiste, is scheduled to arrive in Columbus on Friday afternoon around, or shortly after, the commitment of Tyler Friday. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound defensive end is fresh off of an official visit to Nebraska, likely the biggest competitor for the Buckeyes in this recruitment. However, the fact that he’s held off on scheduling any further official visits until after he completes his trip to Ohio State could mean that this might prove to be a fruitful weekend for the Buckeyes. It wouldn’t shock me to see Jean-Baptiste choose Ohio State during or shortly after his official visit, locking up his spot and likely finishing the defensive line recruiting class for Ohio State.
On Saturday, Maryland tackle Rasheed Walker, another top 100 prospect nationally on the 247Sports composite, is set to arrive on the Ohio State campus for an official visit. It will be Walker’s first visit to campus since watching Ohio State beat Penn State in the Horseshoe on Halloween weekend. More importantly, it will be the Buckeyes’ chance for a final counter-punch and a hope to steal Walker away from Penn State, the school that his been out in front for the majority of his recruitment. Walker took an official visit to Penn State on Dec. 8 and also took an official visit to Virginia Tech, although the Hokies are not considered a serious threat.
While Jean-Baptiste and Walker have featured prominently as potential members of Ohio State’s recruiting class, the intrigue this weekend comes from two new potential visitors.
Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith traveled to Florida’s Atlantic coast on Tuesday and headed to Rockledge High School, about an hour west-southwest of Orlando. Ohio State offered Rockledge wide receiver Antoine Green in April 2017, but the 6-foot-2, 195-pound standout and former Florida State commit never has been to campus. That’s expected to change this weekend, when Green is scheduled to fly to Columbus for an official visit. The trip will be Green’s third official visit, following trips to Florida State (Dec. 15) and North Carolina (Jan. 12) and preceding planned trips to Ole Miss (Jan. 26) and Tennessee (Feb. 2).
Green was committed to Florida State from July 4 until Dec. 3, backing away from his pledge after the departure of coach Jimbo Fisher. Since his de-commitment, Green has remained in contact with new Seminoles coach Willie Taggart, and it’s entirely possible he ends up back in Tallahassee with the new Florida State regime. Still, this weekend will prove interesting. It’s unclear if Ohio State will have room for another wide receiver. The Buckeyes still have holes to fill on the offensive and defensive lines, and any wide receiver will fight for a spot in the class with a small handful of other targets, including linebackers, running backs and defensive backs. This visit to Columbus this weekend will provide much clarity on what kind of priority status Green holds for Ohio State and, likewise, where they stack up in his list of schools.
Perhaps even more interesting are whispers that Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu could trek to Ohio State for an official visit as soon as this weekend. Of course, those rumors would prove at odds with reports that he won’t make it to campus until Feb. 2, the final available official visit weekend before National Signing Day on Feb. 7. Tuliaupupu has been rumored to visit Ohio State a number of different times and at this point, it’s hard to believe he’ll actually make it to Ohio State for another visit until his plane touches the tarmac.
Tuliaupupu was last in Columbus in April for Ohio State’s spring game, his first and only visit to the campus. The smart money remains on Tuliaupupu staying out west and committing to USC when it’s all said and done. Ohio State won’t stop pursuing him ― and the Buckeyes shouldn’t ― but the odds remain long that Tuliaupupu will wear a Buckeyes uniform. Should he actually show up in Columbus this weekend (or any other weekend before signing day), then this recruitment could become very intriguing. Until that happens, I’m not willing to put any weight behind Ohio State’s chances with the talented inside linebacker.
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