Ohio State Buckeyes: Justin Hilliard


Back in early May, we heard from some concerned Buckeyes fans who were wringing their hands over Ohio State's slow start in the latest recruiting cycle. Back then, their team had only two commitments.

My reaction was simply to chuckle, because I don't see any reason to worry about the job Urban Meyer and his staff do on the recruiting trail. And just two months later, look at the Buckeyes now.

Ohio State landed two monster commitments this morning when defenders Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard gave their verbal pledges within minutes of each other. Both are five-star players, according to ESPN Recruiting, with Hilliard ranking as the No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 13 overall prospect in the ESPN 300 and Cornell checking in as the No. 5 defensive end and No. 16 overall prospect. Craig Haubert has a breakdown of how much impact the pair of five-star prospects can make on the Buckeyes' defense.

Cornell, who hails from St. Paul, Minn., eliminated Minnesota from his final list earlier this year. Michigan State and Iowa were also among his finalists. Hilliard, who's from Cincinnati, also considered Michigan and Iowa in his final five.

That gives the Buckeyes 12 total commitments and four in the ESPN 300. Our latest 2015 class rankings now have Meyer's team at No. 6 nationally, up 17 spots from their previous showing. The only other Big Ten schools in the top 25 are Penn State (No. 4 nationally with 17 total commitments) and Michigan (No. 23, eight commits).

The scary thing for the rest of the league is that Meyer and his staff have been known as great closers in the final weeks leading up to signing day, beating out marquee programs for top undecided prospects late. They're already built a great foundation in July. Hilliard said at his press conference that he and Cornell would try and recruit other elite players to join them in Columbus, including four-star Kentucky running back Damien Harris. He took note of today's news.


Ohio State picked up the Midwest's second- and third-best prospects Wednesday with the additions of linebacker Justin Hilliard and defensive lineman Jashon Cornell. Below, Craig Haubert breaks down how much impact the pair of five-star prospects can make on the Buckeyes' defense:

Five-stars Hilliard, Cornell to announce

July, 2, 2014
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Five-star recruits Justin Hilliard (No. 13 in the ESPN 300) and Jashon Cornell (No. 16) will be making their college announcements live on ESPN.com at 10 a.m. ET. Tune in to see where these program-changing prospects will end up.

Notebook: Columbus NFTC 

June, 1, 2014
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The top prospects from all over the Midwest came out to perform at the Columbus NFTC. When you gather that much talent in one place, it’s only natural that a lot of recruiting news will follow.

ESPN 300 linebacker Justin Hilliard was one of five prospects who earned an invitation to The Opening, and Hilliard discussed whether or not he has narrowed his top-five down even further.

He was one of many uncommitted recruits who made news on the day, as did running back Mike Weber, defensive end Jashon Cornell and offensive lineman Matt Burrell.

Those prospects became targets at the camp for some of the committed recruits on hand. One of the main targets was No. 1-ranked running back Damien Harris, who will soon have news of his own.

List to narrow for Harris


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Michigan and Ohio State went in different directions on the field this past season, with the Buckeyes competing for a Big Ten championship and the Wolverines trying to regroup.

Both teams are looking to add firepower to their rosters, though, and the rivals will definitely be battling on the recruiting trail for 2015 prospects. Ohio State will be targeting quite a few Southern prospects, but there are still some overlapping targets for fans to keep an eye on. Here is a look at where each school stands.


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ESPN 300: Top Big Ten targets 

April, 16, 2014
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The top-ranked prospects tend to wait out the process, so there are still some huge names at the top of Big Ten recruiting boards. The top targets will be fought over by most teams within the conference, which will make for some interesting recruiting battles.

Here is a look at the top five targets within the Big Ten in the 2015 ESPN 300.

DE Jashon Cornell
6-4, 270 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: No. 16



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ESPN Junior 300 analysis: Big Ten 

November, 19, 2013
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The newest version of the ESPN Junior 300 is out and there was plenty of movement within the list to interest Big Ten fans. Here is a look at what changes were made from a Big Ten perspective.


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It’s called the Big Ten Conference for a reason.

From big offers, to big official visits to big commitments, the Big Ten has been abuzz with activity.

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From commitments to big official visit weekends, it's been a busy week of recruiting in the Big Ten.

Conference recruiting writers Brad Bournival and Tom VanHaaren take a look back at the week that was and look ahead as teams build toward the future.

Boilermakers flip a commitment

Purdue picked up a pledge from safety Timothy Cason II (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston) this week. Though unranked and a former Western Michigan commit, the Boilermakers were able to flip the switch on the 6-foot, 179-pound Cason and make him the ninth commitment of the 2014 class.


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With any conference there will always be battles on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten. Coaching changes, different philosophies and geographic location all factor in to who battles who.

Here is a look at the top five Big Ten recruiting rivalries.

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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Lost in the shuffle of the news at USC was that Ohio State made a major impression with key targets visiting for the Wisconsin game; whoever is hired at UConn will inherit a difficult situation but with upside possibilities; junior college receiver D'haquille Williams remains committed to Auburn but is looking at others.

 

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Big name visitors set to invade Ohio State 

September, 27, 2013
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Urban Meyer doesn’t miss an opportunity to impress.


The two-time national champion did it last year when Nebraska played Ohio State in The Horseshoe under the lights and he’s not missing the opportunity this year.

Here’s a look at some of the bigger names scheduled to make the trek to the banks of the Olentangy River for the Buckeyes-Badgers game Saturday evening.

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From Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin grabbing a commit, to Penn State receiving great news on the recruiting front, to Ohio State playing host to some big-time official visitors this weekend, Big Ten storylines were everywhere this week.

Here’s a look at a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines:


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B1G high school performers 

September, 16, 2013
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There was plenty of action on the high school circuit, including among Big Ten commits and targets. Here is a look at some of the bigger performances from the weekend.

Illinois
Matt Domer: The Illini commit took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. He had 11 rushes for 84 yards in a 42-0 win over Bishop McNamara.

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Big Ten recruiting mailbag

September, 13, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the Big Ten recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions. We’ll try to give everyone a chance to get their questions answered. We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter to @bbournival or @TomVH.

@buckeyefan686: How do you see Urban Meyer and Co. utilizing a player like Noah Brown?

Brad Bournival: First and foremost, Brown is a player who brings versatility and can play either split out or in the slot. He can even go in the backfield if Meyer needs him there. His size -- 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds -- makes him a solid choice to play the X receiver. With explosiveness and good route-running, he’s a natural to go out wide for Ohio State. Expect to see him on special teams soon for the Buckeyes.


@kraut2k: Is DeAnthony Arnett having a negative effect with Michigan State and Brian Cole?

Tom VanHaaren: It seems as though he might be, yes. Arnett, a wide receiver from Saginaw, Mich., hasn’t been getting playing time at Michigan State. He transferred from Tennessee after his freshman season, but hasn’t made an impact yet. That does seem to be something Cole (Saginaw, Mich./Heritage) has taken notice of. Cole and Arnett are friends, as is Cole’s father. A program can’t change what it does on the field for a recruit, but in this case it does look like it’s having an impact on this prospect. I’m not sure there is much that can be done if that’s the way Cole and his family feels.


@PSUlions1121: Have you heard anything about Justin Hilliard’s visit?

Bournival: After talking to his dad, the ESPN Junior 300 junior is very intrigued by “linebacker university” and wants to see what Happy Valley is all about. He also has heard all about the atmosphere of a night game, so he wanted to see that firsthand this weekend as well. He has rescheduled his trip to Kentucky for Oct. 12 when the Wildcats play Alabama.


@UMKirwin12: Which Big Ten teams do you think will see their class ranking change the most, up or down, from where they are now to where they end up on national signing day?

VanHaaren: I think Michigan and Ohio State still have a lot left on their boards to bump each of them up in the rankings. They are both in the top 10, but with some big prospects still in play, they could still see a bump. Northwestern, Michigan State and Nebraska are also teams that have opportunity to jump in the rankings as well. All three teams have ESPN 300 prospects still listing them in their top group, so there is a chance we could see some upward movement.


@darkknight1093: With all the turmoil at Texas, do you now see Ohio State as a serious contender to land Solomon Thomas or Myles Garrett?

Bournival: If things play out like they did with Penn State and Oregon in Meyer’s first two classes, don’t expect him to do much until after the season. I’m sure there is a lot of interest in Thomas and Garrett, but Meyer is very careful where he picks his spots.


@CooperLily21: General question for you. In your opinion what is the most important thing (or things) kids look for in a school?

VanHaaren: That’s tough to answer in a short response because there are so many factors for different kids. It really depends on what the prospect is looking for, what his situation is and what caliber player he is. I think the biggest similarity is a comfort level. This gets overlooked a lot, but a big part of why recruits take visits is to see how comfortable they feel with the coaches, players and that campus. That’s partially why it doesn’t always work out when a recruit is a fan of a school growing up and then ends up committing elsewhere. If he feels a different level of comfort or feels more wanted at a different program, that goes a long way.


@GRSportsBlog: Any idea what’s up with Dravon Henry and his shakeup with the top schools?

Bournival: In a nutshell, the ESPN 300 athlete just didn’t think Penn State was a good fit. ACC recruiting reporter Jared Shanker wrote an excellent piece on it Wednesday. It looks like it’s down to Pitt and West Virginia with Ohio State having an outside shot. The bowl ban might have played a role in Henry dropping the Nittany Lions.


@redwingyooper: Why the delay in Michigan offering Matt Burrell Jr. and Tim Settle when they have shown interest?

VanHaaren: Numbers are tight again for 2015, so every offer is important. Right now there are only around 15 scholarships available in that class. There are already technically seven spots taken up with greyshirt commit Brady Pallante counting towards 2015 for now. With attrition that total number of 15 can rise, so there are probably around 10 spots left, give or take. With Burrell, Michigan has Jon Runyan Jr. (Philadelphia/St. Joseph’s Prep) already committed as an interior offensive lineman. That’s also what Burrell position Burrell plays, and Michigan seems to be in the market for tackles.

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