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 today’s talk about Marcus Crowley, Zach Harrison, Julian Fleming and others.
Is Ohio State close to landing Marcus Crowley?
Ohio State may have found its running game again at the same time it may have found its next running back.
Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian Academy 3-star running back Marcus Crowley arrived for his official visit on Friday afternoon and by the time the Buckeyes were putting the finishing touches on Saturday’s 36-31 win over Nebraska, rumors began to swirl the same thing was happening in the recruitment of the 6-foot-1, 200-pound running back.
There’s been no official word from Crowley, who has not yet responded to a request from Lettermen Row for an update on his weekend, but there is a lot of confidence from the Ohio State side of his recruitment that a flip from the Miami Hurricanes, where he’s been committed since last December, could be coming.
What happens from here is up to Crowley and his family and coaches. Certainly, if he’s going to change his commitment, Ohio State would like it to happen publicly and quickly in an effort to solidify their recruiting plans moving forward at the running back position. Crowley has been considered one of the more solidly committed kids in Miami’s 2019 class, so the longer he goes without making an announcement, the harder it becomes for Ohio State to feel secure in any sort of discussion had this weekend. The belief though is that good news could be coming for the Buckeyes here.
Tony Alford has done a pretty remarkable job getting the Buckeyes to this point in such a quick period of time. Can the Buckeyes finish the job?
Zach Harrison does visit Ohio State after all
Hours after the end of his high school career, Olentangy Orange (Lewis Center, Ohio) 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison was making the short trip to Ohio State to visit the Buckeyes, a trip that — in all likelihood — will be his final college visit before he buckles down and makes a decision on his future.
Harrison arrived at Ohio State around 10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and left the school an hour-and-a-half or so after the game. He spent most of his time during the game with Buckeyes 5-star commitments Paris Johnson and Garrett Wilson but also found time to meet with defensive line coach Larry Johnson and of course spent time watching Johnson’s linemen work pregame.
As you’d expect from the intensely private 6-foot-5, 245-pound defensive end, Harrison wasn’t talking much post-game about his visit. Lettermen Row has spoken to a few different people that provided some insight into his visit, but again, this isn’t a young man that’s going to tip his hand at this point.
“I don’t think he’s made up his mind yet,” one source said. “He’s not settled on a decision.”
Another pair of sources added that they felt things were positive for Ohio State on Saturday, but there’s no sudden swing of optimism overall in his recruitment.
“It seemed somewhat positive,” one said, with the other adding Harrison seemed to “have a great time.”
With a person like Harrison, since he’s not saying much, a lot of the scuttlebutt around his recruitment is based in part on what he’s not saying, which is “I am going to Ohio State.” The belief, for a player that is local for the Buckeyes, is that since he’s not committed to Ohio State that he doesn’t want to be, and maybe that’s the case, but he’s also a young man that if he knew exactly what he wanted to do, would have have committed elsewhere by this point.
It’s been reported throughout his recruitment that Harrison is closer to Urban Meyer than he has been with any other head coach, so it’s fair to wonder if the uncertainty around Meyer’s future is making it harder and harder for Harrison to feel confident about Ohio State. That’s just one more big piece of the puzzle that appears to be swinging in the favor of Michigan. The Wolverines have had a lot of ground to make up on the Buckeyes a few months ago, but it seems that they’ve done that.
I imagine Harrison, now that Orange is out of the playoffs and he’s visited Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State, will go even further into decision mode. There’s no date planned for an announcement and the Buckeyes would certainly love to have him back on campus for the game against the Wolverines at the end of the month.
Will he wait that long to decide?
Cavon Butler talks Ohio State, recruitment after big win
On the other side of the field from Harrison on Friday night was Toledo Whitmer’s Cavon Butler.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Butler helped lead his team to a 20-17 win over Orange, a game that Butler played solid, consistent football. He doesn’t look like the same type of athlete as Zach Harrison — few do — but he sure looks the part of a Big Ten defensive lineman.
Butler committed to Kentucky over the summer and remains pledged to the Wildcats. He visited Ohio State in early October and was offered by the Buckeyes at that time, but says right now he’s trying to maintain his focus on his Panthers’ teammates and his academics.
“I am not really worried about that right now,” Butler said Friday night when asked if it’s been hard to stay committed while the Buckeyes are pushing for him. “I’m trying to finish out the season with my brothers and finish this semester out strong because that’s key.”
That is key for Butler as it pertains to his offer from Ohio State. His academic struggles earlier in his prep career put him behind the eight ball a little bit and he’s working hard to correct the course. The effort to improve there has played a major part in the renewed interest from the Buckeyes. He says that Ohio State’s push, along with Michigan State, does have him wondering what to do right now.
“The strength [of relationships] with Kentucky is really high,” he said. “But there are some schools really trying to make me flip. It’s getting really tight. I’m kind of going to just sit back and wait.
“[Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson] has been bringing me in really tight. We talk every day. I talk to Urban Meyer, Mark Pantoni, Greg Schiano, every day. They treat me like family there.”
There’s no hurry for Butler, Ohio’s 40th-ranked 2019 prospect, to make a final decision and he says he’ll likely do that in February. He plans to visit Ohio State officially the weekend of Nov. 24 and wants to still see Michigan State and Alabama. The Crimson Tide has remained in the mix…kind of.
“I’m still interested in Bama, too,” Butler said when pressed on what schools he’s still considering other than Kentucky. “I’m planning on taking (an official visit) to Bama in the winter time.
“I hear from them here and there, I’ve been trying to get to talk to Saban, but you’ve got to be special to talk to him.”
5-star receiver Julian Fleming has Ohio State near top of his list
The Buckeyes hosted the country’s No. 1-ranked 2020 receiver on Saturday and made a big-time impression Catawissa (Pa.) Southern Columbia star Julian Fleming.
Fleming visited with a handful of teammates and found the overall vibe of Ohio Stadium to be warm and welcoming.
“It was such a friendly environment,” Fleming told Lettermen Row following his visit. “People would walk up and ask where you were from, what position you play, etc. It was just a great first game experience at Ohio State.
It was crazy. I loved the atmosphere and game experience.”
Fleming watched the Buckeyes talented and deep wide receivers knowing that the majority of them will be out of the program by the time he’d arrive on campus if he chose Ohio State. Still, that’s not what matters the most on a visit. It’s always — always — comfort and relationships.
“I mean, yeah, you always have to look at the depth chart and players coming in and out,” he said. “Ultimately it’s just where I can see myself fit the best. Ohio State is definitely in good shape. They treat me like part of the brotherhood.”
The aforementioned Garrett Wilson and Paris Johnson made sure to include Fleming in their recruiting efforts, and he also spent time with Brian Hartline and Urban Meyer, as you’d expect for a player of his caliber.
“I spent a pretty good amount of time with Hartline and Meyer,” Fleming said. “I saw them pregame and post-game and took a little tour after. It was great to get to see them again since the last visit. I’ll be back for the game against Michigan.”
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.
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.