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Ohio State hits tailback recruiting hard, Cameron Martinez gets key visit

Cameron Martinez-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Cameron Martinez is the last remaining Ohio State target in the Class of 2020. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Ohio State hits tailback recruiting hard, Cameron Martinez gets key visit

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. Sunday’s notebook talks Cameron Martinez and his in-home visit from Ryan Day and the Buckeyes efforts in recruiting the 2021 running back position.

Ryan Day makes final in-person pitch to Cameron Martinez

With only one real week to recruit following the Big Ten championship game, Ohio State coach Ryan Day made a conscious decision in December to not make any in-home visits with 2020 commitments who were planning to enroll in June, even if that commitment was planning to sign during the early period. With a plan to welcome in 15 early enrollees, Day and his staff opted instead to take trips to see the early enrollees, to make sure they were all on the same page with enrollment coming just three weeks later.

Day and the Buckeyes squeezed in as many visits as they could, operating under the belief that the non-early enrollees would all sign in December and would subsequently get drama-free visits in January, sometime between Jan. 17 and Feb. 1, the final contact period of the recruiting calendar for the 2020 class.

So when Cameron Martinez decided a night before the beginning of the early signing period to delay signing until February, he gave Day a pretty clear task to accomplish in January: Make sure the 4-star athlete and two-time Michigan High School Player of the Year doesn’t end up anywhere else.

When the sun came up on Friday and Ohio State coaches were able to get back on the recruiting trail, it was no surprise that Day wasted no time getting himself back in front of the Muskegon (Mich.) star. Day made a number of visits around the state of Michigan on Friday, but he ended his day on its western shore making his in-home visit with his unsigned commitment.

Cameron Martinez-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football-Muskegon

Ohio State paid a visit to commit Cameron Martinez. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“It went really good,” Martinez told Lettermen Row. “It does help that Coach Day came to visit last night.”

Day was in Muskegon until roughly 10 p.m. and hung out at the young prospects home, beating him in Connect 4 and then watching him play basketball, sharing the stands with coaches from Notre Dame and Northwestern, who were also in town recruiting Martinez.

There were no ultimatums or promises made by either side on Friday, but the message from Ohio State is the same as it’s always been. Martinez is a priority for the Buckeyes, and the staff in Columbus values him in a way that no other staff has for much of the last year. Yes, Ohio State believes Martinez is a special offensive player. But the belief remains that he can be a difference-maker on defense, and Day understands his reluctance to entirely shut down his recruitment again until a new defensive backs coach is named.

But, as it was with Paris Johnson last year, backing Martinez into a corner is not and has not been a part of the plan for Ohio State. Day has been consistent, reliable and understanding about why Martinez is reluctant to completely close things down until he knows who his future position could be and actually gets to meet him. That will happen as soon as possible, and that’s the message from Day to Martinez.

“He said he’s got my back and told me just how much he wants me to be a part of the program,” Martinez said. “And he’s hoping to be back with the next hire soon.”

Ohio State sees top 2021 running backs on Friday

Whether or not Martinez signs with Ohio State in February, there are not likely to be any new prospects emerging in the Class of 2020.

The Buckeyes are on to the next cycle, and that means the focus will go from finding 2020 running backs to finding 2021 running backs. Knowing that, it’s not a surprise that Day made a stop at West Bloomfield (Mich.) on Friday before heading to Muskegon to see Martinez.

Donovan Edwards, the country’s No. 2-ranked running back, plays at West Bloomfield. He’s one of the primary reasons that Day, Nick Saban and Brian Kelly were all in town on Friday. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back has been a top priority for Ohio State in the Class of 2021 for much of the last year, and there’s no reason to expect that will change.

Tony Alford is expected to make his own visit to West Bloomfield in the coming days. But on Friday he was in Texas, according to Lettermen Row sources, making a stop in Garland (Texas) at Lakeview Centennial High School, the home of 5-star running back Camar Wheaton, the country’s No. 1-ranked tailback.

Ohio State has a long list of candidates in 2021 at running back. And Day and Alford will see a number of those players in the coming days and weeks.

Lovasea Carroll includes Ohio State in top-5 list

Another of those 2021 running backs who will be in the view of Ohio State coaches for the next few months? Lovasea Carroll, a 4-star prospect from the IMG Academy.

The Warrenton (Ga.) native, a former South Carolina commitment, included the Buckeyes in his updated top-five schools, which released on Friday afternoon.

Carroll has not visited Ohio State to this point, but he has remained in contact with Alford about a potential trip this spring.

Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Join the conversation below in the comments and sign up for Scarlet Sunrise, Lettermen Row’s morning newsletter that will get your day started with all the important Ohio State news you need to know. Prefer video? Follow Buckeyes football on YouTube with Lettermen Row. You can also get your recruiting fix by subscribing to Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.

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.