Huge Weekend Facing OSU as Search for Playmakers Continues
By Tony Gerdeman
Nearly three weeks ago when receiver James Quick committed to his hometown Louisville Cardinals instead of the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and his coaching staff had to turn to Plan B in their quest for a dynamic playmaker.
Ever in search of players who can score touchdowns, the Ohio State coaches began casting a much wider net in hopes of landing a player or two who fit that description.
That search took on a little bit more importance with the news this week that running back commit Ezekiel Elliott would be taking an official visit to Missouri. It's unlikely that Elliott decommits from Ohio State, but that doesn't mean the coaches aren't watching the situation closely.
A little over a week ago, and well before the Elliott news broke, OSU's net reached down to Florida and New Smyrna Beach four-star receiver James Clark (5-10 170). Ohio State offered Clark a scholarship, joining the likes of Clemson, Florida, Nebraska, Miami (FL), Auburn and Notre Dame who had done the same.
Having already taken official visits to Northwestern, Purdue, Nebraska and Clemson, Clark is now down to his last official visit, and he was trying to decide between Ohio State and Florida for that fifth and final visit.
In order to make that decision an easier one, Urban Meyer visited with Clark this past Wednesday and things went pretty well.
"(The visit) went well," Clark told the Dayton Beach News-Journal.
"(Meyer) came in, delivered his message and was straightforward with me. He kind of just said that he believed that Ohio State was the best as far as having both the best educational opportunities and best football. He had a strong case for Ohio State."
The end result of Meyer's visit was that Clark has scheduled his final official visit to Ohio State, and it's happening this weekend. Clark, who caught 49 passes for 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns this past season, possesses a very special trait, and one that Meyer is definitely looking for.
"(Meyer) said they are looking for a guy that can come in and make an impact right away," Clark said. "He said speed is the aspect they are looking to add to the team."
Clark will not be alone on his official visit this weekend, as Texas running back Dontre Wilson (5-10 165) will also be on his official visit. Wilson, who is an Oregon commit, was thought to be back in play when the the Chip Kelly NFL rumors began the first time around. The Buckeyes had always been working on him because they like his speed and versatility, but once Kelly decided to stay, it looked like their chances at flipping him had been lost. That was until Kelly finally did leave for the NFL and Wilson decided to take one more look around.
Oregon hasn't given up on Wilson yet, however, as they sent seven coaches (which is the NCAA limit) to his home on Wednesday. OSU offensive coordinator Tom Herman visited Wilson last week, and Urban Meyer visited his high school this week.
The seventh-ranked all-purpose back in the nation per 247 Sports, Wilson rushed for 1,895 yards and 37 touchdowns, and also caught 37 passes for 750 yards and nine touchdowns this past season. With numbers like that, it is no wonder that Meyer thinks he could be very effective in his offense. Texas is also trying to get into the picture, but it looks like this is an Oregon - Ohio State battle until the end.
Right now, the Buckeyes have room for both Wilson and Clarke, and it would be hard to imagine them saying no to either. There is also the not-so-small matter of athlete Ryan Timmons out of Frankfort, Kentucky, as well as junior college receiver Corey Smith.
Timmons (5-11 180), ranked the #24 running back in the nation per 247 Sports, finally received an Ohio State offer this week, which came just a few days after Florida offered. He has scheduled his final official visit for Florida next weekend, and without an official visit to OSU, you would have to think the Buckeyes would have some ground to make up. Even if he doesn't make an official visit to Ohio State, however, he would still likely make an unofficial visit.
Timmons definitely fits the playmaker label that OSU is looking for. He rushed for 1,306 yards on 83 carries and caught 33 passes for 1,004 yards, and scored 42 touchdowns this past season. He was also the fastest man at Ohio State's 'Friday Night Lights' camp last summer.
"I probably get asked 10 times a day where I am going to school. I get asked at school or at the store or mostly (basketball) games," Timmons told the Danville Advocate-Messenger.
"But I really don’t know yet. It will come down to how I get along with the coach, the type of offense the school runs and how comfortable I am with everything. Right now I can’t even tell you all the offers I have. I just have to find time to sit down and rethink everything and then make my decision."
Smith (5-11 185) is rated the #3 receiver in the JUCO ranks by 247 Sports, and he took his official visit to Ohio State on January 11th. He had 51 receptions this past season for 733 yards and nine touchdowns. He is currently committed to Mississippi State, and is originally from Akron.
A final name to keep in mind is Oregon commit Darren Carrington (6-3 180), out of San Diego. He is rated the #15 wide receiver in the nation per 247 Sports and has scheduled an official visit to Ohio State for February 1. However, he does not yet have an offer and whether or not he gets one probably depends on how the the two official visits this weekend go.
There are just under two weeks until Signing Day on February 6, and even though that doesn't sound like much time, there is still a ton that will happen between now and then.
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