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 talks 2021 stars Yanni Karlaftis and Evan Pryor and introduces two new young names to watch.
Greg Mattison impacts Ohio State recruitment of Yanni Karlaftis
When he was hired away from Michigan to become Ryan Day’s co-defensive coordinator, there was an expected added benefit of Greg Mattison coming to Columbus: His reputation as a top-level recruiter.
Though the Buckeyes are still waiting for their first 2020 defensive commitment, Mattison’s relationships with 2021 star Yanni Karlaftis could pay dividends for Ohio State. The 4-star linebacker prospect, Indiana’s top-ranked sophomore and the third-ranked outside linebacker in the country for 2021, will make his first visit to see the Buckeyes this weekend.
“Recruiting is going great,” Karlaftis, who was offered by Ohio State in January, told Lettermen Row. “I’m actually going to Ohio State for the spring game this weekend. I have a great relationship with Greg Mattison and we keep in close contact. [He’s changed] a little, but mostly he’s the same because he is interested in me and how he can help me.
“I haven’t spoken with any other coaches yet but hope to soon. I want to get to know more of the coaches this weekend and get to see the team. I’ve seen how great of a program they are.”
The name Karlaftis should be familiar to recruiting fans, as Yanni’s big brother George was recruited by Ohio State before signing with Purdue in the Class of 2019. Though he will certainly be considering Purdue, the younger Karlaftis said he’s not feeling any obligation to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“There’s always pressure,” he said.”But I don’t let it get to me.”
Evan Pryor forced to reschedule Buckeyes visit
This weekend, Pryor had planned to make his first trip to Columbus to see the Buckeyes in person. But he will now be unable to make the visit.
“I can’t make it anymore,” he told Lettermen Row. “My people couldn’t get off of work.”
The country’s sixth-ranked 2021 running back, Pryor spent last weekend at Clemson and was looking forward to the visit at Ohio State. His primary recruiter and potential position coach Tony Alford was anticipating the trip as well.
“He was all right,” Pryor said, noting Alford’s disappointment in the canceled visit. “We were able to set up a date right away about when I can get down there and also when he will be down to see me. I’m going to their camp in June and he said he’d come to see me in early May.”
As a sophomore, the process for communicating with coaches isn’t always an easy one to navigate, so in-person visits are definitely where the biggest strides are made in recruiting. Still, Pryor sees things progressing well with the Ohio State running backs coach.
“We’ve just started really,” he said. “He seems like a great guy. He knows what he’s talking about and knows a lot about the game.”
Nathanial Bruce loves visit to Ohio State
Harrisburg is a Pennsylvania football town, and one of the next big-time prospects from the area grew up dreaming of playing at Ohio State.
“Ohio State has been my dream school since I was a kid,” 2021 two-way lineman Nathanian Bruce told Lettermen Row. “They always will be my favorite school. My dad is from Cleveland and I lived with him until he passed three years ago. When I was a kid we went to Ohio State games every year.”
Being a fan is certainly different than being a recruit. But the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Bruce was invited to the school of his dreams for a visit over the March 21 weekend and took in Student Appreciation Day with the Buckeyes.
“As I got older, I started seeing how many NFL players Ohio State produced, and now that I’m getting to experience more I’m seeing the academic part of it just tops it off,” he said. “I’ve been to Penn State, Virginia Tech and Temple. My opinion on Ohio State is still the same. All of their coaches show a lot of love. It’s great.”
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is recruiting Bruce, and though there’s been no real talk about a potential offer yet, there’s interest from Ohio State.
“The Buckeyes are recruiting me as an offensive lineman and defensive lineman,” he said. “They like how athletic I am and how flexible, plus my ability to play more than two positions.
“[Offensive line coach Greg] Studrawa told me he wants to see me finishing blocks, always moving around — not taking any plays off.”
Buckeyes monitoring defensive back Isaiah Hackett
Another under-the-radar recruit being watched closely by Ohio State is Warren East 2020 athlete Isaiah Hackett. Hackett, a 5-foot-11, 184-pound defensive back, recently visited Alabama and Florida as well as Ohio State. The Buckeyes are recruiting him hard, but there’s been no offer.
— Isaiah Hackett (@isaiah_hackett) March 24, 2019
“They’ve been recruiting me a lot,” he said. “That’s my top school right now. Coach Alford and I have a great relationship, and I’ve got a good relationship with Tim Hinton, too. They like me at cornerback.”
The Buckeyes have no commitments on defense, and Hackett believes he’ll be offered this summer when he camps for the Ohio State coaching staff.
“I will have an offer after I camp with them,” Ohio’s 77th-ranked player in 2020 said. “They have worries about my ball skills, but after camp I will have an offer for sure. They want to see how I play with bigger receivers because I’m not the tallest defensive back and I wasn’t able to show my ball skills on film a lot.
“I honestly don’t know why I’m not ranked higher. I’m very underrated, but that’s going to change soon.”
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