NCF On The Trail: Ohio State Buckeyes

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If you're looking for the best bet to unseat Alabama’s run of consecutive No. 1-ranked classes, Ohio State's 2016 class could be a strong bet. The Buckeyes already had three ESPN Junior 300 verbals, led by No. 1-ranked running back Kareem Walker, and have now added another in tight end Jake Hausmann.

Best of the visits: Big Ten

January, 25, 2015
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It was a huge recruiting visit weekend in the Big Ten, as eight commitments had taken place in the conference by Sunday morning. With a little more than a week left until signing day (Feb. 4), programs have put their recruiting efforts into overdrive to try to close out their classes strong.

These visits were crucial to help get some of those big targets to make final decisions, so here's a look at some of the best social posts from those recruiting visits.

PENN STATE:

The Nittany Lions had a ton of visitors on campus, mostly comprised of current commitments. Offensive line commit Steven Gonzalez took a picture with all the visitors and his future offensive line coach, Herb Hand.


The Penn State coaches did land a commitment from one of their visitors in defensive tackle Robert Windsor on Sunday morning. The staff had a few uncommitted prospects on hand, including defensive end Shareef Miller.

MICHIGAN:

The Michigan staff was hoping this weekend would produce a few commitments, and it did just that. The Wolverines had six 2015 commitments prior to the weekend but ended up flipping former Texas quarterback commit Zach Gentry during the Michigan basketball game.


Gentry is an ESPN 300 prospect and the No. 9-ranked pocket passer in the 2015 class. He joins fellow quarterback commit Alex Malzone in Michigan’s class and will help bolster much-needed competition at the position.

Florida defensive end Reuben Jones also committed to the Wolverines on his visit and happens to fill another need on the depth chart.


The Wolverines are still hoping the weekend produces a few more commitments from some of the visitors, including defensive back Chris Williamson.

ILLINOIS:

Illinois had some big visitors on campus, including defensive tackle Jamal Milan and running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Both prospects would be huge additions to the class, so it was only the finest ice sculptures and cake that came out for the visitors.

MARYLAND:

The Terps have been on a nice streak of landing commitments, and the coaches continued that this weekend by getting 2016 wide receiver D.J. Turner.

OHIO STATE:

The Buckeyes had an excellent weekend for big visitors, as the visit weekend coincided with the national championship celebration. It gave the recruits a chance to see all the trophies Ohio State won this season while seeing what else the Buckeyes have to offer.

Danny Clark, a 2017 quarterback commit for Ohio State, was on campus doing some recruiting for his future team.


The coaches were doing a ton of recruiting themselves, especially with the 2015 official visitors. Wide receiver K.J. Hill showed off the cookie cake he received on his visit.


Since the 2015 class only has a few pieces left to fill, Ohio State also had a junior day of sorts with some of the top 2016 targets on campus. ESPN Junior 300 receiver Austin Mack stopped to take a selfie with the head man himself on the trip.

INDIANA:

If you haven’t noticed that cookie cakes and desserts are a common theme of recruiting, then here's another reminder. Hoosiers quarterback commit Austin King tweeted a picture of his cookie cake on his visit to Indiana.

WISCONSIN:

The Badgers had a successful weekend of their own by landing two big commitments. The first was defensive tackle Kraig Howe from Ohio, who tweeted his announcement.


The second was 2015 running back Bradrick Shaw, who also took to Twitter to announce his decision.



Howe fills a need for the Badgers and Shaw gives Wisconsin three running back commits ranked as four-star prospects between the 2015 and 2016 classes. The Wisconsin staff is reloading at running back to continue the excellent tradition at the position.

MICHIGAN STATE:

The Spartans didn’t have a ton of big-name visitors on campus this weekend, but the coaches were hosting a very important target for the 2015 class. ESPN 300 linebacker Quart’e Sapp took his visit to Michigan State and took to Twitter to show off his time on the trip.


Sapp would be a huge get for the Spartans, who find themselves in his top four along with Miami, Missouri and Tennessee.

NEBRASKA:

Nebraska’s new staff has hit a groove in recruiting and hosted a big visitor list this weekend, including plenty of the Cornhuskers’ commitments. Offensive lineman Christian Gaylord shared a picture of some of the offensive linemen on the visit in uniform.


Linebacker Tyrin Ferguson also took to Twitter to show his time in Lincoln.


The staff did also have a few targets on campus who were not committed to Nebraska, including Kansas State commit Mohammed Barry.

Nebraska was also hosting a few commitments it is trying to hang onto and convince to stay on board come signing day. That included defensive lineman Daishon Neal, who became that much more important with the decommitment of Reuben Jones.

One of the biggest success stories in the 2015 recruiting class has been Arkansas with its in-state recruits. The Razorbacks were 10-for-10 on players they had offered in Arkansas, but that changed Sunday when ESPN 300 receiver K.J. Hill backed off his pledge.


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Ohio State is coming off a national championship and has a three-headed quarterback dilemma that most schools would love to have. The Buckeyes are not complaining about their unusual predicament but it has caused their five-star quarterback commit Torrance Gibson to consider some of his other offers.

The 16th-ranked player in the nation took an official visit to Auburn this weekend and though he remains committed to Ohio State, the Tigers gave him a lot to think about.

"I sat in Coach [Gus] Malzahn's office and he told me that I'm their guy,” Gibson said. "He said he wants me to come in and I would get a fair opportunity to play quarterback and I believe him.

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Top early enrollees: Big Ten 

January, 14, 2015
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The Big Ten has quite a few prospects enrolling in January, which means there is potential for those prospects to get a head start on their college careers. With every team looking to fill holes and add depth, here is a look at the five most important early enrollees within the conference.


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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Even it looks like there is momentum for an early signing period in mid-December, college coaches still are torn on whether that’s a good thing. Plus, what does an early signing period do to the financial aid agreements players are already signing?


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The first College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T went off with a bang. Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 and captured the attention of recruits across the country.

Recruiting targets for both Oregon and Ohio State took to social media to express their feelings. Here’s a look at recruit reactions from both sides of the championship game.

OREGON


While Oregon took its lumps on the field against Ohio State, a terrific season and simply earning a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship earned the Ducks plenty of respect from their commitments and recruits.

Offensive line commitments Calvin Throckmorton and Brady Aiello both took to Twitter to state their excitement in joining the Oregon program later this year.

Fellow offensive line commit Shane Lemieux took a moment to comment on quarterback Marcus Mariota. Lemieux likely won't be able to suit up with Mariota next year in Eugene, as he is likely to make himself available for the upcoming NFL draft. Speaking of quarterbacks, Oregon's 2015 commitment at the position, Travis Waller, was feeling upbeat before the game. Afterward, Ohio State commit Justin Hilliard made sure Waller remembered the bet they made last week, where the loser must wear the school colors of the winner. Not surprisingly, Waller took the bet in stride and fell in line with much of the other Oregon commitments, looking forward to getting to work on next season. Waller could eventually be joined by Oregon's 2016 quarterback commitment, Seth Green, who also was looking forward following the game. Oregon safety commit P.J. Locke is already looking forward to the second College Football Playoff. One of Oregon's top targets on the board for the 2015 class is No. 7 overall prospect Iman Marshall, who apparently was a fan of the uniforms the Ducks sported for the game. Marshall hasn't given many hints as to where he's headed next year, but the Ducks are one of his finalists and their ability to pitch him the fact that they just played in the final game of the season could resonate through signing day. Oregon has done very well with skill-position prospects in the past few years and would appear to be the favorites for several standouts down the road. ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver Dylan Crawford and 2017 star receiver Tyjon Lindsey both let it be known who they were pulling for during the game.

There might be some disappointment from Oregon fans and within the Oregon program in the immediate aftermath of the loss. And while there's no denying that Ohio State will receive a much deserved recruiting boost from the big win, the Ducks will still be able to generate their share of positive momentum during the march toward signing day.


OHIO STATE


The Buckeyes rolled in the championship game in what is sure to bring more positive momentum to recruiting for Ohio State. In fact, the coaching staff even picked up a few commitments before and after the game.

The biggest commitment came from ESPN Junior 300 running back Kareem Walker, ranked No. 5 overall in the 2016 class. Walker committed to Ohio State before the game, and tweeted at halftime that he was committed to the Buckeyes.

If that weren't enough, Ohio State also picked up a commitment from 2017 Florida prospects Shaun Wade and Bruce Judson. Walker hails from New Jersey and is part of a big crop of elite prospects in the area. His commitment to Ohio State could have an impact a few other East Coast prospects, including ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Reaction to the game as coming in via social media at an astounding rate. Commits and recruits were all watching Ohio State's impressive performance. The current commitments took the opportunity to show the pride in their decisions, as Branden Bowen tweeted a picture of himself throwing up the Block O. Some of the commitments, including five-star Torrance Gibson, took some time to congratulate Oregon on its effort in the game. Gibson is headed to Ohio State to play quarterback, so it was only natural he recognized Oregon's Mariota after the game. Buckeyes quarterback Cardale Jones and his crazy journey to his place in the history books didn't go unnoticed, either. ESPN Junior 300 defensive back Robbie Robinson tweeted how impressive Jones has been. By the end of the night, recruits from across the country had seen a spectacular performance with a third-string quarterback, new starters on offense and a youthful team. There is a lot to be excited about for the future on the field and on the recruiting trail. ESPN Junior 300 prospect Brad Hawkins capped the night with a tip of the cap, and like most other recruits, will now be thinking of Ohio State as national champions again.
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Safe to say Ohio State had a great day. The Buckeyes won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T, picked up one of 2017’s top prospects in Shaun Wade in the early afternoon and received a halftime verbal from the No. 1-ranked running back in the 2016 class in Kareem Walker.


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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Most coaches at AFCA agree an early signing period is a good thing, but when to have it will be a hot topic at Tuesday’s NCAA recruiting seminar.


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LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- At the American Football Coaches Association convention, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer's ability on the recruiting trail was the talk of high school coaches from all over the country.


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No. 2 running back Damien Harris announces at 1:15 p.m. ET Friday between Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State, but this has always been a Crimson Tide-Wildcat recruiting battle.


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Damien Harris to announce Friday 

January, 8, 2015
Jan 8
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Running back Damien Harris announces his commitment on Friday at 1:15 p.m. eastern time, and has his list narrowed to Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio State. The No. 2 ranked running back has kept his decision close to the vest, which has everyone guessing where he will end up.

He has weighed the options and looked at the pros and cons of each school, but he has to pick just one.

"There is playing time, number of players at your position on the roster, distance from home, education levels," he said. "Those are some of the basic principles, and obviously great football tradition."

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Ohio State and Oregon have different recruiting philosophies, but both have made it work on the way to an appearance in Monday’s College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T.


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OU coach Bob Stoops fired co-offensive coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell on Tuesday, and the moves might help the Sooners get new life on the recruiting trial.


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GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- News and notes from Day 4 of practices for Sunday's Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, including recruiting updates for a committed four-star and two high three-star prospects.

Bruins have big lead for Benning

Three-star defensive lineman Benning Potoa'e has taken official visits to Oregon State and UCLA. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound versatile athlete will take an official visit to Washington on Jan. 16, and the Huskies staff has its work cut out as they look to land the in-state star.


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