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.
Dobbins, Lindsey, Garrett not yet in San Antonio
We’re in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American game, and Monday was Day 1 of practices for the East and West squads. Ohio State has nine of its 17 commitments in the 2017 recruiting class represented here, but three – all dealing with various injuries – have not yet arrived.
Haskell Garrett and Tyjon Lindsey, teammates at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School, will arrive later in the week as will running back J.K. Dobbins. Garrett and Lindsey are each dealing with knee issues and Dobbins has been recovering from a well-documented ankle injury that occurred on the first play of his senior season. The country’s second-ranked all-purpose running back told Land of 10 via text message on Monday that he’s ready to go with the Buckeyes. He will be one of the Ohio State commitments enrolling early, and he’ll arrive after the Army All-American game.
“I’ll be in San Antonio later this week,” Dobbins told Land of 10. “Then I fly to Columbus on Sunday. I’m all packed.”
When he lands in Columbus, Dobbins says he’s doing so fully recovered from his broken ankle.
“I’m full speed right now,” Dobbins said. “I’ve been running for like three, four weeks. It’s just made me more hungry.”
Don’t expect these three to play in the game on Saturday.
Tufele impresses with skill, speed
Everyone is (or should be) aware by now that the Buckeyes are hot on the trail of another defensive tackle to join Garrett and fellow 4-star prospect Jerron Cage in their 2017 class. The two names that you’ll hear the most are Jay Tufele and Marvin Wilson, from Utah and Texas, respectively. On Monday, Tufele, wearing No. 78 for the West, was very impressive.
Unlike Wilson, who looks like a monster at 6 feet 4 and 330 pounds, Tufele is a touch underwhelming from a pure “look” standpoint. He doesn’t stand out or wow with his frame, but once the whistle blows he’s a difference maker at defensive tackle. He’s got a remarkably quick first step, and that’s not the strength of his game.
“He’s got really good, strong hands,” Ohio State commitment Wyatt Davis told Land of 10 following the day’s practice. “He was a surprise to me. He’s the real deal. I know why we’re recruiting him so hard now.”
Both Davis and fellow Buckeyes verbal Baron Browning spoke glowingly about Tufele.
“He’s a beast,” Browning said. “I hope he joins our class.”
Land of 10 spoke with Tufele following practice and will have that interview online shortly, so check back.
Holmes works on punts and kicks, Buckeyes feeling good
Let’s stick with the Buckeyes’ biggest targets on the West team for the night. The next guy is 5-star cornerback Darnay Holmes, who worked at defensive back and also helped return kicks.
It’s hard to say much about Holmes, the nation’s second-ranked cornerback, that hasn’t been said already over the last two years. One Ohio State assistant, speaking after the 2015 version of Friday Night Lights, told me: “He’s the best cornerback we’ve ever had in camp.” And that he’s continued to showcase his skills anywhere and everywhere he can. To put it bluntly, Holmes is a competitor and, perhaps, the most talented natural athlete in the entire 2017 class.
As for recruiting, Land of 10 talked with Holmes for about five minutes after Monday’s practice, and though he didn’t give anything away regarding his choice Saturday, he was very clear about his interest in the Buckeyes. Now, whether those feelings are true and accurate? I guess we’ll know about that come Saturday. What is true is this: Ohio State commitments who have known Holmes for a while didn’t seem to really believe the Buckeyes were a contender until very recently.
“He was recruiting me to UCLA, hard,” Baron Browning told Land of 10 on Monday. “I thought for a long time that was it, but now it seems like there’s a real chance for us. We’ll see what happens. I know he’s got a girl in California.”
Wyatt Davis, who also plays in California, said something similar, though he didn’t mention the girlfriend.
“You know, it’s weird, but I think things have changed. He was all UCLA a while ago,” Davis said. “I think he still could go there, but we talk about Ohio State a lot. He’s going to be great no matter what. I hope it’s at Ohio State.”
Check back with Land of 10 shortly for that interview with Darnay Holmes.
Okudah keeps pace with nation’s best WRs
So last, but not least, is Grand Prairie, Texas, 5-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. The country’s top-ranked cornerback was his usual fantastic self on Monday, running side by side with the nation’s best wide receivers without much of a problem. Okudah will also make his college decision on Saturday. While the Buckeyes remain the front-runner, the scuttlebutt in Texas was that both Georgia and Florida State are beginning to think they’ve got a real shot to pull an upset here.
As was the case with Donovan Peoples-Jones and the Buckeyes, I just don’t buy it. In recruiting, there always needs to be a runner-up. I think you may hear some increased chatter this week about other schools for that reason. My advice, Buckeyes fans: Don’t panic. It’s all going to be OK here barring something absolutely crazy happening.
A video interview with Okudah will be coming soon on Land of 10, so stay tuned for that and remember: Don’t panic.