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Breaking down Ohio State odds after critical official-visit weekend

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Ohio State is hoping it did enough to land Arizona defensive back Lathan Ransom during his official visit. (Lathan Ransom/Courtesy)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Breaking down Ohio State odds after critical official-visit weekend

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. Tonight’s update updates the status of the 15 Buckeyes official visitors from the monster June 21 recruiting weekend at Ohio State.

Ohio State commitments react to Buckeye Bash

Ohio State hosted 15 official visitors last weekend, and though a handful of them are already committed to the program, that doesn’t mean it was a waste to have those players back on campus. Ryan Day and his coaching staff used every opportunity to build up the 2020 recruiting class by solidifying relationships between families and peers as much as they were trying to build it out by adding new players.

Simply put, official visit weekends are just as important for committed players as they are uncommitted players. These are the weekends where the future is forged and bonds are created that last throughout the next four-to-five years. That is easy to see in the reaction from Ohio State commitments who made the trip.

Here are the things I’m hearing and being told from this weekend.

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made,” recent Penn State flip Grant Toutant told Lettermen Row. “It was amazing. When I was with the guys, it just felt like we were all friends who’d known each other forever.”

Aside from Toutant, the Buckeyes also welcomed in Paris Johnson and his family. It was a very important two-day visit that each side hoped would put to rest any of the doubt and unease from the last six-plus months of Johnson essentially reopening his recruitment. After doing a little digging on this trip, I think the Buckeyes should be breathing easy moving forward when it comes to the country’s top-ranked tackle prospect.

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Four Buckeyes commitments, Ryan Day and Darrion Henry (far left) during a big Ohio State weekend. (Paris Johnson/Courtesy)

For the Johnson clan, the decision to make other visits was not an easy one. Despite how much fun they’ve had on the road visiting LSU, Georgia, Alabama and others, it was done out of necessity. A backup plan was needed in the event things never felt right again in Columbus or if the feeling they had about the Buckeyes when Johnson committed didn’t return in the wake of Urban Meyer’s departure.

Ohio State had nothing to gain by trying to put restrictions on Johnson’s commitment and his travel plans. Instead it focused on what it could control: Showing why things with the Buckeyes are still on the right track.

I’m hearing that’s paid off and things should be effectively settled from here and moving forward.

Breaking down Ohio State targets, buzz around each

All 13 other official visitors from last weekend are not committed to Ohio State or anywhere else, and because of that it was a chance for the coaching staff to make a serious move in a number of key recruitments.

Let’s run them down individually based on what I’m hearing and what could come next.

  • RB • Jaylan Knighton • Deerfield Beach, Fla.
    • The Buckeyes absolutely nailed this visit, and Knighton appears down to two schools: Ohio State and Florida State. Sources in Columbus suggested that there was confidence coming out of the visit but are worried that the draw to stay close to home could win out when he returns to normal life in Florida. Knighton has been described to me as a “gotta-have-him” guy by one program source.
  • RB • Sam Adams • Sammamish, Wash.
    • Ohio State is keeping a close eye on Adams, who is a teammate of commit Gee Scott at Eastside Catholic outside of Seattle. He would not be making a mid-June official visit if Ohio State wasn’t interested in him, and sources believe the Buckeyes are in the game. He’s a versatile enough athlete to be a second running back who can play out of the backfield. Heck, he’s got the frame and skills to even play defensive back if necessary.
  • TE • Jalin Conyers • Gruver, Texas
    • People in Columbus weren’t bullish on their chances with the country’s third-ranked tight end coming into the weekend, but things went very well with Conyers and his family. The mood has changed from “not likely” to “we’ll see,” so take that for what it’s worth. Still, this one likely ends up with Conyers picking Oklahoma over Ohio State and Georgia. The Bulldogs have a number of tight end targets ahead of Conyers on their board, so this is more likely a two-team race right now.
  • TE • Cam Large • Dedham, Mass.
    • The tight ends are playing it close to the vest, but Large spent a lot of time over the weekend with Buckeyes commitments. The general mood was that the fit was good. The Buckeyes want two tight ends, and Large has been at the top of the list longer than Conyers and Joe Royer. Will that matter when Alabama, Georgia and Wisconsin remain in the mix? I think Large stays in the Big Ten, so don’t write off Wisconsin yet either.
  • TE • Joe Royer • Cincinnati, Ohio
    • The Buckeyes offered Royer three weeks ahead of his official visit, and the expectation for most was that he’d commit quickly to Ohio State. That thinking seemed to be supported by his quick decision to take an official in Columbus. I don’t think this one is a done deal by a long-shot, and believe Arizona State is a real threat to the Buckeyes here. Did Ohio State offer too late?
  • OL • Josh Fryar • Beech Grove, Ind.
    • Ohio State wants another offensive lineman in the Class of 2020. Fryar has visited half-a-dozen times in the last year, but the buzz coming out of his official visit isn’t lending itself to any surge of optimism that he’ll pick the Buckeyes at this point. Indiana is the home school with a clear path to early playing time, and the vibe out of Columbus was that he was leaning toward the Hoosiers.
  • DL • Darrion Henry • Cincinnati, Ohio
    • Henry made his long-awaited Ohio State official visit. Despite a late push by Tennessee and others, it’ll be a surprise if he picks anyone other than the Buckeyes when he makes his scheduled announcement on Saturday.
  • DL • Kedrick Bingley-Jones • Charlotte, N.C.
    • For the second straight week, the Buckeyes hosted a Providence Day School defensive lineman. And for the second weekend in a row, there’s not a lot of immediate reaction from the player himself. Bingley-Jones has been on the board for Larry Johnson for a while now, and the former Florida commitment is very serious about Ohio State. He doesn’t appear close to a decision as the Buckeyes continue to evaluate defensive line options into the summer.
  • LB • Cody Simon • Jersey City, N.J.
    • There is a lot of confidence in Columbus that the Buckeyes did everything they needed to this weekend to land 4-star linebacker Cody Simon. The country’s 10th-ranked outside linebacker was very impressed by the comprehensive package being offered by Ohio State. A decision is expected in the next few weeks.
  • LB • Kourt Williams • Bellflower, Calif.
    • Similar to Simon, things went as well as they could’ve gone with top target Kourt Williams. There’s no timeline for a choice, but there’s a feeling that Ohio State has clearly separated itself as the team to beat.
  • DB • Lathan Ransom • Tucson, Ariz.
    • Ohio State sources weren’t sure where they stood with the country’s fourth-ranked safety coming into his official visit weekend, but there’s no doubt that people close to the program have changed the tune a bit now that Ransom’s return to Columbus is complete. The Buckeyes are battling Texas, LSU, Notre Dame and Oklahoma here. But what felt like a longshot last week suddenly feels like it has very good, real chance to end with an Ohio State win.
  • DB • Makari Paige • West Bloomfield, Mich.
    • The Buckeyes have held Paige in high regard for more than a year and were glad to get him and his family on campus for his official visit. The 19th-ranked safety in the nation, Paige was very impressed by the weight-training and development piece of the Buckeyes presentation, but there have been mixed reviews from sources about what he’s considering from here. Some suggest he’s a player that wants in the class and others are telling me that he’s been clear that he’s still unsure of where he feels most at home.
  • ATH • Cameron Martinez • Muskegon, Mich.
    • There’s no doubt that the Buckeyes want Cameron Martinez on their roster. A 3-star prospect who should be ranked much higher than he is, Martinez appears close to making a decision about his future. I’ve expected Martinez to pick Ohio State for a while now, but Minnesota and Northwestern are giving him plenty to think about. Neither of those programs will give up easily.

Other housekeeping notes from Ohio State, Big Ten weekend 

After cancelling official visits to Ohio State and Notre Dame because both schools were now done recruiting interior linemen, Colorado 3-star lineman Reece Atteberry committed to Michigan as part of a big weekend for the Wolverines.

So far, Jim Harbaugh’s program has added five commitments, including Jordan Morant and William Mohan, two players who were considering Ohio State as well. The Buckeyes have other priorities at linebacker and weren’t recruiting Mohan nearly as hard as Michigan, but they did host him for a visit the previous weekend and would’ve liked for him to delay a decision into the fall. He saw no reason to do so.

Luke Lachey made official visits to Michigan State and Iowa over the weekend. If the Buckeyes don’t offer soon, it’s very likely that this Ohio State legacy will be playing for a Big Ten foe in the next few years instead. The decisions from Joe Royer, Cam Large and Jalin Conyers need to happen sooner rather than later for the Buckeyes to gain some much-needed clarity here.

Bijan Robinson made his official visit to Texas over the weekend, days after a trip to USC and a week after his lone visit to Columbus. Those three universities now comprise his final choices. Ohio State sources have been cautiously optimistic in their position since he left Ohio, but the Texas visit definitely has remained a concern as the Buckeyes wait for the final word from the 5-star running back. Ohio State still feels good following his visit with the Longhorns, but so does Texas and USC.

We mentioned it here last week, but don’t be surprised if Akron Archbishop Hoban 4-star running back DeaMonte Traynum picks Arizona State over Ohio State whenever he makes his final decision. The primary sticking point remains Trayanum’s desire to be a running back in college. For whatever reason, there’s doubt he’d be in that spot at Ohio State.

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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Andy
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Andy

Birm – fantastic recap. Thx for your work!

David
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David

I have to echo what others have said, I think this is the best recruiting recap I have read in a long time. Super job Birm! Really looking forward to this season. Should be a very interesting one

Brunstar
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Brunstar

The state of every Buckeye fan who follows recruiting right now…
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John Bochenek
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John Bochenek

Included on my Christmas list:
Darrion Henry
Cam Martinez
Bijan Robinson

AZ Buckeye
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AZ Buckeye

I thought that Sam Adams was a RB, not a WR?

allinosu
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allinosu

Looking for another Olineman, TE, 2RBs, WR and two athletes as well as a portal QB doesn’t leave a lot for defense.

Lawclub
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Lawclub

Not as optimistic as I hoped after hearing buzz from others. But no hype.

I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed, anyway.

yourbuck
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yourbuck

Offered Royer to late? Early June, wow.

Brian
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Brian

Agree with the first comment. Great recap. Much appreciated

PaulFinebaumisBiased
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PaulFinebaumisBiased

Birm, thanks for the great content as always. Do you think Bijan Robinson will commit to OSU?

Chargerbuck
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Chargerbuck

Birm- what happened with Melton? Did we like Simon better? Thanks!

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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