Last Weekend before National Signing Day
By Michael Chung
The soap opera we all call College Football looks to have some season ending resolutions. It looks like Manti Te’o indeed was catfished by Reniah Tuiasosopo, hopefully putting an end to this romantic debacle.
Recruiting has also had its share of debacles and this coming Wednesday marks National Signing Day (NSD) when hopefully all this recruiting drama will end (Please, no Terrelle Pryors this year).
Ezekiel Elliott pulled off the recruiting story of the week by taking an official visit to Missouri, the Alma Mater of both mom and dad. Trey Johnson ended up taking a stealth visit to Tennessee and Dan Skipper pledged to Brett Bielema over Urban Meyer, something that was written in last week’s rundown as something that could legitimately happen. Though not surprised by Skipper’s Arkansas commitment, the timing was a little surprising as it looked like Skipper would wait to decide.
Urban Meyer offered and was quickly rebuffed by Nebraska commit and OT Matt Finnin out of IL. Cameron Hunt also eliminated Ohio State so it looks like OSU will only have 2 true offensive linemen in this class but do not be surprised if Billy Price and/or Donovan Munger move over to the other side of the ball. Look for OSU to take 4-5 OL in 2014. They already have Marcelys Jones in the mix and have offered Kyle Trout.
Corey Smith was long thought of as a Buckeye commit and made it official this week by flipping from former Urban Meyer protégé Dan Mullen and Mississippi State to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. This created a domino effect causing Darren Carrington Jr. to cancel his visit and likely taking Ryan Timmons off the table. With very limited space left and more offers than space, these last few days will be interesting. Here is the last recruiting rundown for the 2013 class (hopefully). I will try to predict where the remaining targets for OSU will pledge.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (6-0, 198, St. Louis, MO)
Elliott casued a stir when he decided to take an official visit to Missiouri, his mom and dad’s alma mater. Things became dicey when he told the media he would not do interviews until National Signing Day, causing Buckeye nation to doubt. It also appeared that the recruitment of Dontre Wilson caused a stir in Elliott. The stir was so bad, Ohio State coaches visited him this week.
He and I texted during the week and he told me his visit with the Ohio State coaches went really well and that they discussed how he would be used in the offense. But he refused to give interviews to anyone and said he would announce on National Signing Day at 3pm (CT). I would be super shocked if Ezekiel did not announce Buckeye. The only scenario I could see Ezekiel flipping is if Dontre Wilson announces Ohio State but OSU wants Dontre in the slot so Ezekiel’s position at RB would not be affected. It would be the oddest of oddities if Elliott went anywhere else other than OSU. Sources have indicated to me that Ezekiel Elliott is solid Buckeye so Buckeye nation should not worry but we will all know for sure on NSD. Prediction: Ohio State
ATH Dontre Wilson (5-10, 175, DeSoto, TX)
He made an official visit to Texas this weekend, which was odd given that he had Oregon, Ohio State and Oklahoma State as his primary targets. He has stated that he is 50/50 OSU to Oregon but in the end, I think he quacks and keeps his verbal commitment to the Ducks. Wilson was miffed when Chip Kelly visited him then took the Eagles job the next day but the offense will stay the same and Wilson is an ideal fit for the Ducks fast pace attack. Ozone staff wrote: “He has always been extremely concerned with finding an offense that fits his style, and Texas doesn’t seem to run the kind of attack he’s looking for. Never rule anything out when a school can get a kid on campus, especially if new play caller Major Applewhite can convince him things are changing in Austin. He also picked up offers this week from Alabama and Florida State. The ‘Bama offer is intriguing because they are “the” program in college football right now, but we still believe this one comes down to OSU and Oregon in the end. His dad told ESPN he would have a decision made on Sunday, but there is no telling exactly when he will announce that decision to the public.” Prediction: Oregon
WR Ryan Timmons (5-10, 186, Frankfurt, Ky.)
This long time Ohio State lean has strong OSU interest. It is likely that the staff is waiting to see what happens with Dontre Wilson, and James Clark, first. If there is a spot, Timmons is in but if there is no room at the Urban Meyer Inn, Timmons will join Coach Stoops at the University of Kentucky. With Corey Smith being the 23rd verbal pledge, it appears that there may not be room. Ozone staff write, “Timmons was recently at Kentucky for a visit and the Wildcats are the leader in the club house. He was considering an OSU visit before NSD, but now it sounds like he will make a trip to Florida this weekend instead. It will either blow him away or solidify his feelings about UK, but either way Ohio State doesn’t seem like much of a player here.” Prediction: Kentucky
WR James Clark (5-11, 170, New Smyrna Beach, FL)
Is visiting the Florida Gators again for the 6th time and if Will Muschamp has room in the Gator class, Clark will likely be part of it. Ozone staff write, “Clark is probably more of a true speed guy than Wilson, who played mostly running back in high school. Clark recently visited Columbus and seemed to enjoy his time. He’s taking an unofficial visit to Florida this weekend and it looks like a two-horse race between OSU and the Gators.”
It all depends on numbers. Clark maybe turned off by the 5 Gator WR commits for 2013 or Will Muschamp just might not have space for him, which would send him to OSU. If Dontre Wilson commits to OSU, then that could also leave Clark out. In the end, I see Clark staying close to home. Prediction: Florida
ATH Cornelius Elder (5-11, 170, Nashville, TN)
Auburn has been making a push for this Nashville, Tenn speedster and it would not be a shock if he ended up in the SEC. He was also offered a Basketball scholarship by Purdue so he could be in the B1G after all. UCLA is still not out of it but it looks like the Buckeyes are. Not much info since his official visit. Ozone staff write, “According to 247 Sports, Elder is not likely to sign a letter of intent next week for football. He wants to take more time to decide whether he will play football, basketball or both at the next level. He was originally considering UCLA for both football and basketball.” Prediction: Auburn football, UCLA football and basketball or Purdue basketball.
DB Vonn Bell (6-1, 190, Rossville, GA)
And this soap opera saga will finally end on Feb 6. No prospect has done a better job at keeping the media off his scent than Vonn Bell. At once, it was reported he was an Alabama lock, then Ohio State moved to the top, now people say he will go UT (Tennessee). The truth is, no one really knows except Vonn and his family. At one-time, rumors had Bell as a soft commit to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Then rumors swirled that Alabama could not offer him immediate playing time as well as wanted him at corner. Then the Volunteers entered the picture and people were reporting that he would go with his heart and play for Butch Jones and the Vols. At this rate, I would not be surprised if any of the three a fore mentioned teams secure Bell’s commitment. Alabama took DB Eddie Jackson early this week, which could communicate that it is a two horse race for Bell. At this point I will predict Bell goes to Tennessee but this is no more than just the best guess I can make given the Intel I have and I would not be surprised at all if Bell became Buckeye. Everett Withers visited him this week and Withers is known for his ability to close on a recruit (see Armani Reeves last year). Bell wants to play early and Ohio State has two safeties that are seniors, so Bell will definitely see the field and not redshirt but UT maybe able to promise him more field time which could sway him to the orange. Prediction: Tennessee (but OSU and Alabama have just as good of a shot)
Unless a Terrelle Pryor happens and a recruit decides to hold out until after National Signing Day, the 2013 class will finish between 23-25 players on scholarship with five preferred walk-ons and the 2014 recruiting season will be in full swing. I will offer my 2014 predictions later this week. Urban Meyer has already made over 100 offers to 2014 targets so the drama will not end and will only begin again. But it is about time that Meyer schedules a vacation.