Recruiting has slowed a bit in the last week or so as we're currently in the "dead period", meaning coaches cannot have face-to-face contact with players, which is why we won't see any visits for a few more weeks. However, there has been some notable Buckeye recruiting news over the past couple of days.
We're going to start with Florissant (MO) Hazelwood Central offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, who is one of the two or three offensive linemen the Bucks are still targeting in the 2014 class.
Florida State is the current leader for the 6'6, 315-pound tackle, but the Buckeyes are running second for the standout lineman's commitment. I briefly chatted with Johnson a couple of days ago and he told me he keeps in contact with Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner and will "probably" take an official visit to Columbus next month. He was previously in Columbus for the 2012 Ohio State-Michigan game.
I think the Seminoles are still pretty heavy favorites for Johnson services until the Buckeyes can get him on campus for a visit. However, if Urban Meyer and his staff are able to convince Johnson to take an official to OSU, this race could get interesting as the Bucks are still looking to add one more offensive lineman to this class.
ESPN 300 OT Roderick Johnson says Ohio State is No. 2 behind FSU http://t.co/6hQ2Sy9HdX Some doubt as to how much of a serious player OSU is— Jared Shanker (@JShankerESPN) December 18, 2013
Other offensive linemen Ohio State is still targeting include the likes of Chanhassen (MN) OT Frank Ragnow and Virginia Tech commit, Columbus (OH) Bishop Ready OT Brady Taylor. As things currently stand, I feel the Buckeyes have the best shot at flipping Taylor, who grew up rooting on the Scarlet and Gray.
Staying on the topic of the offensive line, there is also some news regarding offensive line commit Marcelys Jones and Kentucky. Several Kentucky recruiting experts have made Crystal Ball picks pegging the 6'5 offensive lineman to the Wildcats in the past couple of days.
While I know for a fact Jones has been in pretty close contact with Kentucky head coach Mike Stoops and his staff ever since he committed to the Buckeyes, I'm hearing he's still likely to end up a part of Ohio State's class. He might enroll in school early, but I wouldn't count on that happening. Anyway, unless something else changes, I'm expecting him to be a part of this class.
Jones was the first member of "The Dream 14" recruiting class as he gave Urban Meyer his commitment a year and two days ago. If he does ultimately flip to Kentucky, it's extremely doubtful his Glenville teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith would follow him south. I'm still VERY confident the aforementioned Tarblooder duo will commit to the Buckeyes at the Army All-American game on January 4th.
Some people have wondered why the Ohio State staff hasn't pulled Jones' offer due to his highly publicized communicating with other schools. The answer to that is pretty easy: Jones has a lot of upside and could develop into a good player and the Ohio State staff wouldn't pull an offer from a recruit from a major pipeline school like Cleveland Glenville.
We also have a couple of updates on players Urban Meyer and his staff have offered in the 2015 recruiting class in the likes of quarterback Brandon Wimbush (highlights) and offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez.
Wimbush, who is one of the quarterbacks on Ohio State's shortlist for 2015, talks to Urban Meyer and offensive line coach Ed Warinner about once a week and has built pretty strong relationships with both coaches. He said he doesn't have a set timetable for his decision, but could announce at any time, which I think could be a soon as January or February.
I'm pretty sure at least one of Wimbush or Lorenzo Nunez will be in this class and the staff will also look to add a player like Torrance Gibson (highlights below) who could play either quarterback or wide receiver at the college level, but definitely isn't a sure thing to be in the class. Wimbush plans on visiting Ohio State sometime in the spring.
Gonzalez is another player the Bucks are in a good position with early in the recruiting process. He talks to Ohio State's director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and offensive line coach Ed Warinner pretty frequently. He told me Ohio State is his early leader, followed by Rutgers, Wisconsin, and South Carolina. He added that list will probably change once more offers comes his way.
The 6'5, 300-pound offensive lineman plans on visiting Ohio State sometime this spring. I think OSU has a good chance at landing Gonzalez, but it will be a lengthy battle as he doesn't plan on announcing his college decision until National Signing Day 2015.
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. CB Jermaine Roberts (Texas commit/official visit January 24th)
4. OT Brady Taylor (Virginia Tech commit)
5. DE Solomon Thomas (official visit January 31st)
Dropped S Mike Rogers (Central Florida commit) due to departure of Everett Withers and no word of an official visit.
- 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)