COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Central Ohio begins its thawing out process, it's no coincidence then that recruiting begins to heat up around the Ohio State football offices.
Mid-Week Recruiting Update — February 19th
By Tony Gerdeman
More offers have already gone out this week, with the most notable being "handed" to Trenton Thompson (6-3 289) out of Albany, Georgia. Scout ranks Thompson as the top defensive tackle in 2015 class, and he has offers from everywhere.
Georgia would appear to be the leader right now for Thompson, so it's going to be a stretch to get him to leave the state, let alone the region. A defensive tackle that the Buckeyes have a much better shot at landing is Adam McLean (6-1 282), out of Bethesda, Maryland.
McLean is the #6 defensive tackle in the nation per Rivals, and he's had Ohio State in his top five before they ever even offered. With a Buckeye offer extended on Monday, OSU has certainly gotten into the game for McLean. As an added bonus, he was also being recruited by Larry Johnson while Johnson was at Penn State, so there's familiarity for both parties already established.
The other side of the line of scrimmage also had an offer extended in the form of Jacksonville, Illinois offensive lineman Gabe Megginson (6-5 295). Megginson, a four-star prospect, is the #16 tackle in the nation per Scout.
He visited Ohio State last summer during the Friday Night Lights Camp, and the Buckeyes have kept an eye on him ever since. He has offers from much of the Big Ten, including Michigan State, Wisconsin and Nebraska.
Venturing outside of the trenches, Sandy Creek, Georgia running back Eric Swinney (5-10 188) has also been offered this week. He has been clocked at a 4.52, and Rivals ranks him their #5 running back in the 2015 class. He has offers from all of the major powerhouses. It will be difficult to get him to leave the south, but Ohio State will give it the ol' college try.
Best of the Midwest Combine
The annual Best of the Midwest Combine was held this week. It features top players in the midwest and beyond who want to participate and show their wares.
One player who does not need to participate, nor show his wares, was also named the top performer at the camp. A familiar name, five-star running back Damien Harris (Berea, KY) impressed routinely, and also recorded a 4.44 and 4.36 40-yard dash.
There were also some impressive performances by a few Ohioans, most notably Dublin Scioto linebacker Nick Conner (6-3 225), whom we've mentioned here before. Conner was named Co-MVP at the linebacker position with Glenville's Justice Hart (6-0 200).
Conner has not yet been offered by Ohio State, but he plans to camp at OSU this summer in an attempt to earn one. I spoke to John McCallister of the McCallister Scouting Report about Conner, and like Ohio State, McCallister still wants to see more from the young linebacker.
"Nick Conner I think will be good. He's training now. He's learning. He's big. He's learning to change direction. He runs well. I just need to see him in competition this summer and fall. I like him, I've met him. He's big, he's tall, but he's still developing. I think he's going to be a really, really good football player, but he's just starting to do the things that he needs to do to be really good training wise. He works really hard, I just need to see him in camp and see more of him. He came on last year. He's a long kid and he's just starting to get bigger and stronger."
Another Ohioan who had a strong showing was Westerville South offensive tackle Rob Dowdy (6-6 280). Dowdy is ranked the #29 offensive tackle in the nation per 247Sports and has offers from Arkansas, Louisville, Kentucky, and a few Big Ten schools. Like Conner, despite being in Ohio State's backyard, he has also not yet been offered by the Buckeyes.
According to McCallister, Dowdy is a prospect who is still developing, but he's also improving every stop along the way.
"I think he's got a chance to be really special. He's still just developing. People were writing him off that he was this or he was that, but he just got big so fast. He's working extra hard right now to be a really, really good football player. For me, he'll be a top offensive lineman. He's not there yet, but he's really working hard, and I think in camp, you'll see a different Rob Dowdy. He's young too, but because he's tall and big, everybody expected all of these things out of him right away, and it just didn't happen.
"Rob Dowdy will be a very good football player before it's all said and done. He's improved. He's a better bender now. He's gotten more aggressive, and he's gotten more self confidence. He's got to work, though. When I saw him early last year, he wasn't a very good football player. I saw him in a scrimmage and he was just getting better, and then I saw him at the end of the year and he wasn't the same kid. He had improved immensely. He's still got a ways to go, but he'll be a top offensive lineman. By the end of his career, he's going to be a very, very good high school player."
One Ohio football player who caught everybody by surprise was Nordonia athlete Denzel Ward (5-11 165). Ward entered the combine without any offers, but after running a hand-timed 4.31, Cincinnati could wait no longer.
Ward might be under most people's radar, but not McCallister's.
"Denzel Ward, I liked him last year. He's probably 5-10 or 5-11, and he's fast. But what he really does is he's explosive. He long-jumped just over 23' last year. He's a state qualifier. He's another guy that's just developing, but he's fast. I saw him play, I really liked him as a kickoff and punt returner. Is he “Big Ten good”, I don't know yet. But I think he's got a chance to be really good because he's just getting going now. He's just starting to take off and understand what this all is. He is fast. He might be 5-11 now. As far as being on offense or defense, I always think these guys need to try corner first. You can always find receivers. Corners are hard to find."
McCallister added that all three prospects were "great kids and extremely hard working."
One to Watch?
While talking to John McCallister, he also made mention of a 2015 receiver that he thought more people should know about.
"A kid that is a sleeper that's going to surprise you is Alex Stump. He's a wide receiver out of Lakewood St. Ed's. He's fast, he's 6-3 185 pounds, and he runs 4.5, and he can catch the football. He's another guy that you have to see in camp."
At Nike's SPARQ Combine in Massillon earlier in the month, Stump measured in at over 6-4 and ran a 4.54. He caught 57 passes for 987 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as a junior.
Since Stump's strong showing, he has received his first four offers. Cincinnati, Toledo, Western Michigan, and most interestingly, James Madison have now offered. James Madison, as you'll recall, is led by new head coach Everett Withers, who was an assistant at Ohio State just a few months ago. Stump has recently visited Michigan State.
On the Horizon
Later in the week we should have a conversation with the head coach of one of Ohio State's 2015 commits, so keep an eye out for that. This weekend on the Sunday Rundown we'll have further updates on new offers, and a closer look at the recruiting situation at a specific position or two, as well as anything else that pops up.
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