This last week of recruiting is probably the biggest one we've seen in quite a while as the Buckeyes picked up two commitments in the 2014 class (Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon), a commit in the 2017 class (Danny Clark), and hosted a couple of top targets on official visits last weekend (Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith). Despite all of this, there's still plenty to cover in the world of Ohio State recruiting.
We'll start off with Coppell (TX) defensive end Soloman Thomas, who named a top five of Arkansas, Ohio State, Stanford, Texas, and UCLA yesterday. He doesn't claim a leader of the five schools, though I think Ohio State, Stanford, and Texas have the best shot of scoring his commitment.
The Buckeyes will get Thomas' last official visit as he's currently slated to come to Columbus on January 31st. He has already visited UCLA and is scheduled to visit Arkansas on January 18th and Stanford on January 25th. There is currently no scheduled official visit to Texas, but he has taken many unofficial visits to the in-state school.
College coaches.... Solomon Thomas has declared his top 5 in NO particular order Arkansas Texas Stanford UCLA Ohio St— joe mcbride (@coachjmcbride) December 19, 2013
Ohio State is also pushing for another elite defensive end in the likes of Southfield Michigan's Malik McDowell. There are multiple elite schools in this race including the likes of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.
Michigan is the perceived leader for McDowell, but I'm hearing the Buckeyes are currently right behind the Wolverines in second place. Other teams still firmly in this race include LSU and Michigan State, with Alabama, Florida, and Florida State trailing that pack.
McDowell has a busy January planned as he is scheduled to take an official visit to Florida State on January 17th, LSU on January 24th, and Ohio State on January 31st. He has already taken official visits to Alabama and Florida. Due to the fact that Michigan and Michigan State are so close to home, he will take unofficial visits to both of those schools.
I think there's a very good chance the Buckeyes end up with one of Thomas or McDowell, with the former being the most likely to be in this class. One thing Urban Meyer and his staff have going for them is they're slated to receive the last official visit from both of this standout prospects. A decision from both of these players is expected sometime close to or on National Signing Day 2014, which is on February 5th.
To close out the news on 2014 prospects, we have a little news on 2014 Cleveland (OH) athlete Marshon Lattimore and safety Erick Smith. I've heard their official visits last weekend went very well and essentially locked them into the class, if they weren't already locked in.
They're both slated to announce at the 2014 US Army All-American Bowl, which is set for January 4th. I think the biggest question that remains is the order in which the Glenville duo commits. You can take these two commitments to the bank.
Next we have news on 2015 Fort Lauderdale (FL) Heritage athlete Torrance Gibson. Gibson led his team to a 66-8 victory in the Florida 5A state title game. It's unclear which position he'll play in the collegiate ranks. He plays quarterback in high school, but some people think he'd be a better receiver at the next level. The 6-foot-4-inch, 200 pound super athlete could definitely fit in at either of these positions.
He's also very interested in Ohio State. I think the Buckeyes are in his top two schools along with Miami. I briefly chatted with him earlier this week and he told me that he talks to Urban Meyer on the phone every other week and wants to get up to Columbus for a visit as soon as possible. Meyer visited Gibson at his school in the week that led up to his state title game.
My 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction for Gibson is Ohio State as things currently stand, but Miami will provide some stiff competition in this race.
To wrap up today's recruiting news, offensive linemen Timothy Gardner, who was originally a member of Ohio State's 2013 class before being kicked off the team due to an arrest over the summer, committed to the Indiana Hoosiers yesterday.
It's encouraging to see the 6-foot-5-inch, 325 pound linemen get his life (and football career) back on track. I'm personally not very high on Gardner as a prospect, but he's definitely a player that could be worth the risk for a team that has consistently been one of the Big Ten's have nots.
Finally, as per usual, here are my latest picks to complete Ohio State's 2014 class (plus for good measure some key dates to keep an eye on):
1. ATH Marshon Lattimore (announces January 4th)
2. S Erick Smith (announces January 4th)
3. S Mike Rogers (Central Florida commit)
4. OT Brady Taylor (Virginia Tech commit)
5. DE Solomon Thomas (official visit January 31st)
- January 2nd, 2014: Under Armour All-American Game (4 PM ET on ESPN) - Ohio State commits/targets: Jamarco Jones and Raekwon McMillan.
- January 4th, 2014: US Army All-American Bowl (2 PM ET on NBC) - Ohio State commits/targets: Dante Booker Jr., Johnnie Dixon, Marcelys Jones, Demetrius Knox, Marshon Lattimore, Malik McDowell, Curtis Samuel, Erick Smith, Soloman Thomas, and Damon Webb.
- February 5th, 2014: National Signing Day (Land-Grant Holy Land will have coverage all day)