There’s no such thing as a day off in recruiting. Things happen at all times in the high stakes world of college football recruiting, and there may not be any better example of that than a whopping three blue-chip 2020 recruits all announcing their commitments on Christmas Day.
Even more surprisingly, all three were pretty directly connected to Ohio State. For those out of the loop, linebacker Derek Wingo, cornerback Elias Ricks, and of course, wide receiver Gee Scott Jr all announced their pledges yesterday, to Penn State, LSU, and Ohio State, respectively.
All three of those moves are super important to Ohio State’s 2020 class, and because each would’ve individually been the biggest news of the day had it been the only news, I’m going to talk a bit about each one in this morning’s edition of State Secrets.
Gee Scott Jr.
We’ve written pretty extensively about Gee Scott Jr already, so I’ll take this opportunity to plug his commitment piece right here, and a scouting report for the Washington wideout right here, with a snippet below. To put it concisely: Gee Scott Jr. is a very good route runner with solid hands, and could be a lot like Michael Thomas in a couple years. That’s good news.
“That’s especially true for Scott. He plays in a system that’s actually pretty similar to what he’ll do at Ohio State, with a lot of quick hit underneath routes, and seems to be a perfect fit for it. He’s a very good route runner, making quick cuts and creating space with his hands without being obvious about it. He’s got the kind of technical ability you don’t really see very often from high school receivers.
He also has excellent hands, allowing him to secure just about every pass thrown to him. His big frame (6-foot-3), paired with those hands should be pretty frightening for the rest of the Big Ten, because once he learns how to use his size a little better (boxing defenders out), Scott will be both a great possession receiver, and a dangerous threat in the red zone.”
Wingo is an outside linebacker from St. Thomas Aquinas, the high school of the Bosa brothers and a slew of other OSU talent. It was pretty widely thought that Wingo would be the next Buckeye in that lineage, and the word at the time was that he nearly committed to Ohio State on his visit back in June.
Since then, however, contact slipped a bit, and Derek watched Ohio State’s linebackers in 2018. It’s pretty easy to understand why he didn’t love what he saw. Penn State took that opportunity, got him on campus in September, and landed his commitment yesterday after leading for a couple months.
Unless Ohio State does something bold, like firing their linebackers coach (which we’ve been vouching for since September, by the way), this one isn’t changing. That means Ohio State has to look elsewhere for linebackers in 2020. Cincinnati product Jaheim Thomas likely gets a look, as do Mekhail Sherman, DeaMonte Traynum, Kevin Swint, and a few more names we may not know yet.
Speaking of disappointing defensive coaches, in his time at Ohio State, Taver Johnson hasn’t landed a single cornerback, and almost every one of his players struggled on the field in 2018. Pretty good hire. This miss may not be entirely on him, because I’m not sure that Ohio State had a great chance at winning this battle anyway, but it’s Johnson’s job to win battles, and he certainly hasn’t yet.
The miss I’m talking about, of course, is California cornerback Elias Ricks’ commitment to LSU. Ricks had been a major Buckeye target for months, going back to his visit and offer back in July. He’s close with several Ohio State recruits in the 2020 class, and had mentioned playing in a defensive backfield with Lejond Cavazos, who decommitted from Ohio State following Urban Meyer’s retirement.
That defensive backfield certainly doesn’t seem likely anymore, because I don’t think Ricks has any plans of backing away from this commitment. He wasn’t going to commit until he was 100 percent sure of his decision, and this isn’t just a spur of the moment thing. LSU is the choice for Ricks, and just like with Wingo, it would take something significant to get him to Ohio State.
With Ricks out of the question, the 2020 cornerback spots for Ohio State are a bit foggier. Cavazos is still a major target, as are Kelee Ringo, RJ Mickens and Fred Davis II, but I don’t think any of them are likely right now. That puts Ohio State in a really tricky spot, and could mean that 2020 is the second straight year without a true cornerback pledge unless the Buckeyes land a corner for 2019 between now and February.
- Five-star 2020 receiver Julian Fleming included Ohio State in his top ten. I think the Buckeyes are one of his leaders at this point.