Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff have landed some very solid players thus far in their 2015 recruiting class. However, they have yet to land a big time, national recruit in the class. There's a very good chance this changes on Wednesday as both Cincinnati (OH) St. Xavier linebacker Justin Hilliard and St. Paul (MN) Cretin Derham Hall defensive end Jashon Cornell are set to announce their plans
As things stand, a little more than two days before their 10 a.m. ET college decisions on ESPN.com, here are my thoughts and predictions on where the two defensive standouts end up committing:
Jashon Cornell to announce Wednesday
Just about a month ago, I didn't think the Buckeyes had much of a chance of landing Cornell. He had scheduled several college visits to Ohio State over the past year, but didn't show up for any of them. Then, at the end of May/beginning of June ,he finally set foot in Columbus for his first visit, and the Buckeyes made a great impression on him. When we talked at the Columbus NFTC camp just a day after his Ohio State visit, he spoke very highly of head coach Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
Heading into the visit, he listed Michigan State as his leader, but afterwards he no longer had one and kept talking up the Scarlet and Gray. Based on this and other information I gathered after the visit, I changed my prediction to Ohio State from Notre Dame.
In the month between his trip to Columbus and now, Cornell hasn't made any additional college visits. In fact, he canceled two trips to Happy Valley that he had scheduled and also cancelled a trip to South Bend for the "Irish Invasion'" camp a couple of weeks ago. His next planned Ohio State trip was/is for Friday Night Lights, which is set to take place on July 25.
I really see no reason to chance my prediction for Cornell. The Buckeyes got the last visit from him, made a great impression, gained a ton of momentum in his recruitment, and now it's decision time. If the pick isn't Ohio State (and I would be surprised if it isn't), I think Notre Dame would be his pick. I'm supposed to talk with Cornell more in depth shortly and should know a little more then.
Justin Hilliard, too
We've know his decision would be sometime this summer for a little while now, and the Buckeyes have been in a very good spot here for a couple of months now. I will start off by saying Urban Meyer and the Ohio State staff have done an excellent job recruiting him. Yes, I know he's an in-state guy, but he spent a good portion of his life living in Michigan and is from a part of Ohio (Cincinnati) where the Buckeyes don't have a recruiting stronghold. At this time last year, the Buckeyes were barely in the picture to land his commitment.
This appears to be down to Ohio State and Notre Dame, with Iowa still kind of in the picture (contrary to one recruiting writer who pegs them the favorites). Alabama and Michigan are also going to have hats on the table, but I think both are out of the picture. Going into his last visit, I felt the Buckeyes were the team to beat and I don't think enough changed post-visit to give the Domers an edge here.
I'm continuing to hear very good things about Ohio State's chances at landing Hilliard, and barring a new development, they're going to be my pick heading into Wednesday's decision day. I wouldn't be completely shocked if he chose the Irish as the structure of their school is kind've like his high school (St. Xavier), but I'm pretty confident with my pick of Ohio State right now.
Jerome Baker announcing a week and a half later
Ohio State could very well net the state's top two players in the next two weeks, as Cleveland (OH) Benedictine linebacker/athlete Jerome Baker has set a July 11 decision date. Originally Baker planned on announcing his decision after taking official visits, but as recently as a week ago he told me he was thinking about moving up his decision timetable.
While Baker took visits to Florida and Tennessee in the spring and liked what he saw at both schools, I think the Buckeyes are the clear favorite in this race. Baker has visited Ohio State quite a few times and is very comfortable in Columbus.
Though there is still a little bit of time for schools to make their final pitches to the standout athlete, I'm very confident Ohio State is going to be his choice come July 11th. This is shaping up to be a pretty special month of July in the world of Ohio State recruiting.
One thing I intentionally left out above is that Hilliard and Cornell have talked about playing together at the college level on multiple occasions. It's no coincidence that Cornell's newly scheduled decision is set to take place at exactly the same time as Hilliard's.
I think both go to the same school, which would make the only two realistic options Notre Dame and Ohio State. In addition to wanting to go play together, Ohio State got the last visit from both and has had the most momentum for both over the past month or so. While I'm not ruling Notre Dame completely out, I'm pretty confident Ohio State will be the pick for both.
Things could change in between now and Wednesday certainly, but I think Buckeye fans will be very, very happy shortly after 10 a.m. ET July 2.
- New Lenox (IL) Providence Catholic wide receiver/tight end Miles Boykin is also planning to announce his college decision Wednesday. Ohio State might have a hat on the table, but I would be pretty surprised if he didn't commit to Notre Dame.
- Lakeland (FL) Christian School running back T.J. Simmons is announcing his college decision tomorrow between Florida, LSU, Ohio State, and UCLA. I would be absolutely shocked if he picked the Buckeyes and doubt he has a committable offer. Look for him to choose UCLA.