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Buckeyes prep for big weekend, in-state tailbacks shine at camp

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Canal Winchester 2022 running back Stephan Byrd opened eyes at Ohio State on Thursday. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Buckeyes prep for big weekend, in-state tailbacks shine at camp

Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. Thursday’s update talks the latest from the Ohio State camp circuit and focuses on a big weekend ahead for the Buckeyes.

Bijan Robinson, Vernon Broughton lead official visitors group

One of the most important two-week recruiting stretches in the early Ohio State career of Ryan Day is upon us. The Buckeyes will host a number of talented prospects this weekend on official visits as they look to turn up the heat on the Class of 2020.

The visit weekend includes a pair of show-stoppers that are on the top of their respective position b0ards for Ohio State: Arizona 5-star running back Bijan Robinson and Texas 4-star defensive lineman Vernon Broughton,

Robinson is a young man who doesn’t really speak on his recruitment. Like Broughton, he has never been to campus in Columbus. But the Tucson 5-star talent has, according to sources within the program, maintained his interest for months and remains in regular and productive conversation with Ohio State. Texas and UCLA are reportedly among his favorites, but this weekend gives the Buckeyes a fighting chance — despite some belief that he’s not likely to travel too far away from Arizona for college.

With Broughton, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound freak of defensive lineman, things appear a bit more cut-and-dry. The overwhelming sentiment is he’s heading to Texas for college, but Ohio State isn’t going to concede the recruitment without Larry Johnson and the Rushmen taking a mighty swing this weekend. For a look at the physical representation of what Johnson’s ideal defensive lineman of the future would look like, look no further than Broughton.

Who else is making an official visit to Ohio State this weekend?

Are there any players on commit watch?

Sure, I think decisions could come relatively quickly for Hamilton and Trayanum. Hamilton visited Penn State last weekend officially, and Trayanum will be at Penn State this weekend before he heads to Ohio State for an official visit starting on Monday.

Young athletes open eyes at Ohio State this week

The Buckeyes continued their midweek camp experience, and though it’s primarily a fundamentals camp for young players around the state, the setting allowed for the coaching staff to see a few young prospects up-close. Two of them stood out head and shoulders above the others and have suddenly become key names to know in the future.

C.J. Hicks is a 2022 athlete from Dayton’s Archbishop Alter High School, and he’s already popped up on the radar of some colleges, earning offers from Cincinnati, Iowa, Georgia Tech and N.C. State to this point. He’s a big, long-armed defensive back prospect now, but at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, he could be an intriguing prospect at linebacker in a year or two.

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Hicks may be known already, but Canal Winchester 2022 running back Stephan Byrd is not. He has no recruiting profiles on the network sites yet. But he’s a young player that is going to be nationally known in a year or two.

Byrd is 5-foot-11 and solidly put together, and he was one of just three players pulled aside by running backs coach Tony Alford for individual work on Thursday morning. He did not disappoint, drawing rave reviews from Alford during the drills and firmly establishing himself as a name to know in the future. Byrd will need to continue refining his talents, but he has a tremendous future ahead of him with the right coaching, weaving in and out of running back specific drills with ease and looking extremely capable out of the backfield catching the ball as well.

He’s a potential big-time prospect.

Also in attendance on Thursday was Perry High School running back Jaylen Anderson. Anderson is Ohio’s seventh-ranked prospect in the Class of 2021 and the country’s 11th-ranked tailback. He looked at home with the ball in his hands. He’s coming off of a broken leg that slowed him down in his sophomore year but was back to full speed — and said it felt good to be back to work.

“I think it went pretty good,” Anderson said. “It felt awesome to be back working. Coach Alford said he thought I looked really good.”

Anderson, 5-foot-11 and 212 pounds, appears to be heading for a big junior season. Once his conditioning gets to everyday football levels, I think he’ll grow into one of the country’s best 2021 tailbacks. Iowa State, West Virginia, Nebraska and Duke are among his early offers.

Michael Gonzalez camped at Ohio State, earns offer

Sun Valley (Monroe, N.C.) 2021 offensive lineman Michael Gonzalez got some good news from Ohio State on Thursday, one week after he camped in Columbus.

The country’s 11th-ranked 2021 guard was very impressed by what the Buckeyes do and how they do it.

“It was a very nice,” he told Lettermen Row. “It was probably up at the top of all the facilities I’ve seen. The best part was being able to be around the coaches and work with them, then go out there and compete to show them what I could do. I would say the coaching staff was very cool and all the coaches were very approachable and easy to talk to.

“It was a great experience.”

The offer from Ohio State is No. 11 for the 6-foot-4, 280-pound rising-junior — and his biggest offer by a considerable margin. His previous opportunities have come from N.C. State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Illinois and a few others.

Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Check out the Lettermen Row forums and let us know what’s on your mind. Don’t forget to sign up for the tri-weekly recruiting newsletter, just in case there’s anything you’ve missed during the week.

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Birm, how many commitments do you think Ohio State will get between now and the end of June?

Birm

Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.

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