Wednesday will go down as one of the most bizarre (but joyful) days in Ohio State football history, so today’s State Secrets will be a little unusual as well. Not only will we have news of a basketball offer and a football top-10, but we will also have an update on NCAA recruiting restrictions, and updates on Ryan Day re-recruiting two potential All-Americans.
What’s a few months more between friends?
First for the traditional SS content. On Wednesday, the NCAA announced that they were extending the recruiting dead period through the end of 2020. That means that schools can have no in-person contact with recruits, either on campus, at their respective high schools, or in their homes.
Coupled with the announcement that Big Ten teams will play all of their games without fans — and therefore not even unofficial game day visits — recruiting during the pandemic continues to move further and further away from what we would have recognized a year ago.
The football Buckeyes are still in the mix for a number of prospects who had hoped to visit campus before making their decisions, and while they still might be able to do that eventually, it will not be before the Early Signing Period, and should the NCAA allow on-campus visits at some point after the first of the year, there will likely be precious little time to do so before National Signing Day.
Could that mean that OSU and other schools might be waiting on the decisions of top talents like J.T. Tuimoloau, Emeka Egbuka, and others later into the spring than they normally would? Perhaps. Honestly, it would be a somewhat fitting end to this wonky recruiting cycle all of the COVID-inspired restrictions ended up pushing the whole process back even longer.
Where there’s a Will, there’s a way
On Wednesday, 2022 five-star cornerback Will Johnson released his top-10, which included the Buckeyes, as well as Oklahoma, Penn State, Georgia, Stanford, Arizona State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Alabama, and USC.
The Grosse Pointe, Mich. native is currently rated as the No. 8 overall prospect in 2022 according to 247Sports Composite Rankings, as well as the No. 3 corner, and the top player in the state up north.
Ryan Day and Kerry Coombs made their offer to him in late April, on the same day that Brian Kelly and company did, in fact. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder told 247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong that the schools he is most familiar with at this point are “Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State, Arizona State and Ohio State.”
While his father Deon played for TTUN, Will wants to visit as many of the schools on his list as possible, but obviously that’s not going to be able to happen any time soon. However, he did say, “I’m trying to get to Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia, USC, Arizona State, honestly all of them, as many as possible at least.”
So hopefully once he has a chance to visit Columbus, Coombs can do his thing and land another stud from TTUN’s backyard.
OSU Basketball is moving forward
On the basketball side of recruiting, on Wednesday Chris Holtmann’s staff issued an official offer to four-star, 2022 small forward Julian Phillips. Hailing from Blythewood, SC, Phillips is currently the 37th-ranked player in his cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He also comes in as the ninth-best SF, and the top player out of the Palmetto State.
At 6-foot-7, 180 pounds, Phillips also holds offers from 20 other schools including Kansas, Xavier, South Carolina, Florida, and more.
“It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.”
With yesterday’s announcement that the Big Ten will in fact be playing football this fall, that means that there are two absolute difference-makers that Ryan Day will need to lock down if he wants to have the best chance to win a national title in this truly bonkers season. Those two studs, of course, are Wyatt Davis and Shaun Wade.
Over the past week, both players announced that they would be declaring themselves eligible for the NFL Draft, since it did not appear that they would be able to return to the field for the Buckeyes, but, now that they can, things have obviously changed for both.
On Wednesday evening, Davis — one of, if not, the best offensive linemen in the country — officially said that he wants to return to his team, but alluded to having to work some things out first.
On Friday when Davis declared for the draft, Lettermen Row reported that he had signed with an agent — although Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer contradicted that on Wednesday. However, even if that is the case, the NCAA does have a process in which thus such a player can return to his team.
If Davis took any money, or what might be considered a benefit, from an agent, he must return that in full, and then apply for reinstatement. Assuming that Davis is able to do that, I would have to hope that the NCAA would be fairly forgiving in this most unprecedented of circumstances... but, then again, it’s the NCAA so who the hell knows?
Then there is Wade, who likely could have been the latest first-round cornerback selected had he declared for the 2020 draft. Wednesday was a special day for him, not only because of the announcement of B1G football’s return, but also because it was his birthday.
Along with his father Randy, Shaun appeared on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” and said that he was planning on celebrating his birthday on Wednesday, before getting into whether he will return or not on Thursday.
Since Wade only declared for the draft on Monday, it is expected that he does not have as many hurdles to clear in order to return as Davis does. If the Buckeyes are able to get both Davis and Wade back, both will be huge additions to their ability to make the College Football Playoff.