Ohio State recruiting: The latest on tight end search; Top247 rankings unveiled

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Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us Sunday through Thursday night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.


Buckeyes make the top group for a recently offered prospect

Ohio State’s tight end recruiting seemed to be very quiet throughout the early parts of the 2019 recruiting cycle, but has picked up in recent weeks. One of the most notable recent developments was a March 7 offer to Chicago Phillips Academy tight end Jahleel Billingsley, a 4-star prospect and the No. 9 tight end nationally on the 247Sports composite rankings.

Billingsley recently named Ohio State to his top 7, where they were joined by Michigan, Penn State, Florida, Illinois, TCU and Ole Miss. Billingsley also holds Power-5 offers from programs such as Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland, Purdue, West Virginia, Iowa State and Syracuse, as well as gathering several lower-level offers. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound standout holds 20 offers in total.

Billingsley’s offer from Ohio State perked up the ears of the Illinois tight end, a source close to the recruitment shared. The same source indicated he felt Ohio State’s offer made the Buckeyes the program to beat for Billingsley, although Penn State, Florida and Purdue seem to be seriously involved, as well.

An interesting wrinkle here is Ohio State has not yet hosted Billingsley for a visit as a recruit. He may be quickly becoming the most realistic tight end option to join the Buckeyes’ 2019 recruiting class, but Ohio State will likely want to have Billingsley on campus to meet him in person and make sure the fit is right before making any decision on whether or not they’d accept a commitment. Billingsley will make a spring unofficial visit, but has not yet settled in on a date.

The other big names to watch at tight end for the Buckeyes are Arizona’s Brayden Liebrock, South Carolina’s Luke Deal and California’s Jude Wolfe. I would expect Liebrock and Deal to make unofficial visits to Ohio State this spring, but I have yet to confirm a trip from Wolfe. Billingsley seems to be the most likely option at the position, but Deal and Liebrock bear close watching, as well.

Ohio State makes the cut for 4-star defensive end

With a 5-star defensive end in their backyard (Columbus area native Zach Harrison) and an offered in-state 4-star prospect at the same position in the Cleveland area (Mentor’s Noah Potter), much of Ohio State’s recruiting attention at defensive end has understandably focused on the state of Ohio. However, that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes are slacking off in their pursuits around the country.

Wichita (Kan.) Northwest 4-star defensive end Marcus Hicks, a 6-5, 236-pound prospect in the Class of 2019, is a name to watch at the position for Ohio State. Hicks recently named Ohio State to his top-12 list alongside some of the other top programs in the country. With more than 20 offers on hand, it was important for Hicks to be able to narrow his focus to realistic options.

Ohio State made the cut alongside Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Washington, Oregon and N.C. State.

Hicks is ranked as the No. 255 prospect overall and No. 16 weakside defensive end on the 247Sports composite rankings. He is the No. 37 defensive end overall in the class and the No. 1 player in the state of Kansas. Hicks previously attended Ohio State’s prospect camp in the summer of 2017 and was offered by the Buckeyes in late November. He has not been back to Ohio State’s campus since.

247Sports unveils its first full player 2020 rankings

The first full Top247 for the class of 2020 was unveiled by 247Sports. Ohio State has offered too many names to do a comprehensive breakdown of every Buckeyes target on the new list, but I’ve highlighted some of the top prospects for Ohio State fans to watch on the list below.

Keep in mind, these are not the 247Sports composite rankings — which are generated with input from the Rivals and ESPN rankings, as well — but simply 247Sports’ own rankings as a network.

No. 1 – Bryan Breese – Damascus (Md.) – Defensive end — Ohio State leads the Crystal Ball projections for Breese, the country’s No. 1 prospect. He’s drawn comparisons to Joey Bosa from some.

No. 7 – Paris Johnson – Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier – Tackle — The No. 1 tackle in the country, Ohio native Paris Johnson Jr., already holds a Buckeyes offer and is tight with the Ohio State staff.

No. 24 – MarShawn Lloyd – Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic – Running back — Ohio State has close relationships at DeMatha and Lloyd could be their next big target at the school.

No. 54 – Justin Rogers – Oak Park (Mich.) – Guard – Rogers has been to Columbus for seemingly a million unofficial visits and the Buckeyes are the overwhelming favorites.

No. 57 – Devon Betty – Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas – Linebacker — Ohio State is one of the first  programs to offer Betty, one of four Aquinas players to make the list.

No. 59 – Tre Williams – Oakdale (Conn.) St. Thomas More – Defensive tackle — Ohio State leads the Crystal Ball projections.

No. 77 – Jack Miller – Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral – Quarterback — Only three 2020 quarterbacks hold Ohio State offers, and Miller is the most likely of the bunch to end up at Ohio State.

No. 81 – Darvon Hubbard – Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral – Running back – Miller’s high school teammate, Hubbard, moved to Arizona from Akron (Ohio) Buchtel after his freshman year of high school and remains in frequent contact with the Buckeyes.

No. 83 – Darrion Henry – Cincinnati (Ohio) Princeton – Defensive end — Henry is a physical specimen at 6-6 and 260 pounds and he’s one of just three Ohio prospects to hold a Buckeyes offer.

No. 90 – Jake Wray – Marietta (Ga.) – Tackle — Wray is the younger brother of 2018 Ohio State signee Max Wray, and Ohio State will be a heavy favorite here.

No. 170 – DeaMonte Trayanum – Akron (Ohio) Archbishop Hoban – Linebacker — Trayanum is the latest in a long line of talent to come from Hoban in recent years and already holds offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan.

No. 181 – Michael Drennen II – Dublin (Ohio) Coffman – Running back – Drennen is the lone Ohio prospect to make the Top247 without an Ohio State offer, but that could change soon for the big-time running back and slot prospect.

Miss a day of the Ohio State recruiting notebook? Don’t fret! You can get all of the previous versions of Dotting the Eyes here.

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