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, including thoughts on the Buckeyes biggest weekend visitors.
Ohio State takes final shot at Wandale Robinson
After landing St. Louis 4-star wide receiver Jameson Williams last week, the recruiting focus for Ohio State in 2019 on the offense side of the ball has been narrowed to just a few big-time players. Perhaps the biggest target of them all was in Columbus this weekend for his official visit with the Buckeyes.
Wandale Robinson, a 4-star slot receiver from Frankfort (Ky.) Western Hills High School, showed up at Ohio State hours after another huge game on Friday night when he scored five touchdowns and amassed more than 400 total yards against Lexington Catholic. He was in town three weeks ago for the Sept. 8 matchup with Rutgers, but this visit was obviously much more detailed.
“It was just more in depth with everything,” Robinson told Lettermen Row. “All the meetings and talks with coaches were much more in-depth.”
It was pretty clear from the moment that Robinson walked onto the field at Ohio Stadium on Saturday that he was the priority for the Buckeyes this weekend. He was escorted everywhere he went by Mark Pantoni, the program’s director of player personnel, then spent one-on-one time with receivers coach Brian Hartline and his assistant, Keenan Bailey. Robinson was shown around by 2020 commit Paris Johnson, who acted at times more like an active player at Ohio State rather than a high school junior.
Right now, it appears that both Ohio State and Kentucky are pretty confident they’ll land Robinson. Kentucky is home for the 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete, and there’s no doubt that pull is powerful. The Wildcats have done a great job convincing Robinson that he’d be a difference maker in their offense and that their program is a playmaker or two like him away from being a national contender. For most rational people, that’s easy to dispel — but recruiting is a sales game and the Kentucky staff is among the country’s best at pitching the right things.
For Ohio State, the sell should be pretty simple. The Buckeyes are expected to lose their top four receivers after the season, and because of the 2017 decommitment from Tyjon Lindsey, they don’t have any player on the roster that fits the role Robinson would play in their offense. Ohio State’s issue here could be that former receivers coach Zach Smith didn’t make Robinson a priority, but that has absolutely not been the case since Brian Hartline was named in the interim role he’s currently holding.
‘I really feel like I’m a need for them with how they have been on me,” Robinson said. “Coach Hartline has made me feel like a priority from the moment he got the job. That whole staff has done a great job with recruiting me.”
Freshman wide receiver Blue Smith was Robinson’s host and he left campus around 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The visit to Ohio State was the fifth official visit for Robinson, and though I know you can never truly count Alabama out, to me, this recruitment appears to be boiling down to Ohio State and Kentucky. A decision date has been set for Nov. 1.
My 247Sports.com crystal ball remains on Ohio State until I’m told otherwise.
Thoughts on Trevor Keegan and Ohio State
Another official visitor this weekend in Columbus was Crystal Lake (Ill.) South offensive tackle Trevor Keegan.
The top-ranked 2019 prospect from the state of Illinois, Keegan has kept pretty quiet about his recruitment. The Buckeyes remain on the list and continue to have interest in him, but it’s been hard to tell exactly how much of a priority he is. He also spent a lot of time with Paris Johnson and appeared comfortable with the Ohio State staff on Saturday.
Michigan will host Keegan for an official visit during their primetime game against Wisconsin next weekend, and the Wolverines are one of the programs that appear to be in the best shape with him at the present time. Georgia is also heavily involved, according to sources in that part of the country, and he’s expected to take an official visit to Athens on Nov. 10.
This is a recruitment that seems to just really be getting started. But some family ties to Michigan and the atmosphere in Ann Arbor next weekend, combined with a little push from the Wolverines staff and a reminder that they already have five offensive linemen committed, could make this interesting.
Penn State and Clemson are also expected to receive official visits. I don’t believe Ohio State is the landing spot for Keegan right now, but we’ll see what happens from here.
Kentucky commit Cavon Butler adds Ohio State offer
Things are going to start getting interesting on the recruiting trail.
Earlier on Sunday, the Buckeyes were dealt an unexpected blow when longtime commitment Sampson James decommitted just hours after returning from his visit to Columbus this weekend. Just hours before that, Ohio State extended a scholarship offer to Toledo Whitmer 2019 defensive lineman Cavon Butler, who is currently committed to Kentucky.
— Cavon Butler (@CVon01) October 7, 2018
We’ve talked about Butler here a few times. He’s a really talented kid who had some academic issues early in his high school career that kept him from upgrading his recruiting profile. Still, he’s a 3-star prospect and Ohio’s 40th-ranked player, and now he’s holding an Ohio State offer.
“They said straight up they are offering me,” Butler told Lettermen Row. “But I have to stay on track in the classroom.”
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Butler was in Columbus on Saturday. That visit was the result of some early-week conversations with Mark Pantoni.
“Last week Pantoni told me I should really come for a visit,” Butler said. “So I planned to [come] then. What stood out the most to me on this visit was just the coaches showing love and talking to them, they told me they loved my film and that it was the tape of a future Buckeye.
“And the fans, man, they are great.”
So what happens now for the Kentucky commit? He’ll need to evaluate his options following the surprising offer from the Buckeyes.
“I was surprised they offered,” he said. “But I felt like I gave everything I could to get the offer, so I was kind of expecting it to come sooner or later. The next step is to reevaluate my decision.”
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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.