With the dead period now over, a number of top 2016 prospects flocked to Columbus over the weekend. Even though Ohio State didn't walk away with verbal commitments, they did pick up ground on a few top notch recruits.
With Ohio State signees Austin Mack, Michael Jordan, Jonathon Cooper, Tyler Gerald, and Drue Chrisman already in Columbus and taking classes, the Buckeyes had another U.S. All-American receiver on campus over the last few days. Five-star standout Mecole Hardman Jr. of Elborton, Georgia headlined the Ohio State visitor list. While the Buckeyes didn't make his recent leader list, the top overall athlete in the senior class made the trek to Capital City, and from all signs, was blown away.
Still looked as a long shot to join Ohio State's 2016 class, the 5'10, 170-pound Hardman, who will check out what Alabama has to offer next, went to his Twitter page to share his thoughts on his OSU trip:
Loving the visit!! Coach Meyer may be the coolest coach out there #Buckeyes defiantly in my Top schools pic.twitter.com/xcPGCovKf5— Mecole Hardman Jr. (@iiAm_Mesho) January 15, 2016
It's been fun Columbus ⭕️ Really love it up here, don't think I've seen snow in like 2 years but yeah Go #Buckeyes— Mecole Hardman Jr. (@iiAm_Mesho) January 17, 2016
Playing host to a talented group, below is a list of prospects who joined Hardman on campus this weekend:
|Kareem Felder||Baltimore,MD/Franklin||DB||5'11/170||***||Ohio State commit|
|Keandre Jones||Olney,MD/Good Counsel||LB||6'3/200||****||Maryland commit coming into weekend|
|Damar Hamlin||Pittsburgh,PA/Central Catholic||DB||6'1/175||****||Visits PSU & Pittsburgh this month|
|Jordan Fuller||Westwood,NJ/N Valley Reg H Old Tappan||DB||6'1/195||****||Visiting Michigan this weekend|
|Malik Harrison||Columbus/Walnut Ridge||ATH||6'4/215||***||Will visit Michigan State & Syracuse before commitment|
|Jamar King||Ukiah,CA/Mendocino College||DT||6'5/285||***||Plans to visit Alabama soon|
Even though it wasn't confirmed with a boom from Mark Pantoni, all signs point towards OSU adding a key recruit to its 2016 class. After visiting Columbus over the weekend, the Buckeyes have reportedly flipped a top tier linebacker to OSU. Per Scott Greene of Rivals, Ohio State landed a verbal pledge from four-star prospect Keandre Jones on Sunday evening.
Coming into the weekend verbally committed to his home state Maryland Terrapins, Jones adds his name alongside many current and future Buckeyes who were once pegged to play their college ball elsewhere. If true, Jones will be the 19th Ohio State verbal commit, and joins early enrollee Tuf Borland as the second linebacker to give Urban Meyer and crew their word.
If rankings are your type of things, Jones is among some of the best in the country. Per the 247Sports Composite, Keandre is the ninth outside linebacker and 106th overall prospect in the class of 2016.
Want to know more about Jones' pledge? Land-Grant Holy Land has your back.
Buckeyes offer Eley
Just because the Buckeyes had a gang of seniors on campus over the weekend doesn't mean they weren't thinking about the junior class. On Saturday, one of the top 2017 athletes in the country, Ayinde Eley, reportedly received an offer from the Ohio State coaching staff.
"A (OSU) coach called my coach, and my coach told me (about the offer). It feels great to get an offer from a great program like Ohio State," Eley told Land-Grant Holy Land. Eley is a three-star prospect, and teammate of Keandre Jones at Good Counsel in Olney, Maryland.
Ohio State isn't the first program to offer the 6'5, 210-pound standout. Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, and Wisconsin are just a few of the other schools to dish out a scholarship to Eley, who finished with over 60 total tackles as a junior last season.
With the OSU offer now on the table, Eley, the 38th athlete and 449th overall prospect in the 2017 class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, states he will try to make a trip to Columbus in the very near future.
See why so many college programs are keeping a close eye on Ayinde Eley with these highlights, courtesy of Hudl:
- Five-star class of 2016 combo guard and one-time OSU target Kobi Simmons committed to Arizona on Saturday.
- Two of the top 2016 recruits left on the Buckeyes' big board visited SEC programs over the weekend. Senior wide out Binjimen Victor and defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence officially visited Tennessee and LSU respectively. Victor, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida native, will make his pledge on Monday, while Lawrence is scheduled to pick between his home state Tigers and the Buckeyes later this week.