With "The Opening" just in the rear view mirror and "Friday Night Lights" a couple of weeks away, the recruiting trail has been the source of a lot of news lately. Interestingly enough it has been some of the already committed players in the 2013 class that have been stealing the headlines more than the top uncommitted targets still on the board.
Six of those committed players did find themselves in "The Opening", a 7-on-7 tournament and training event that has quickly become the premiere event in football recruiting. In attendance for the Buckeyes were Marcus Baugh, Cameron Burrows, Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Eli Woodard, and Jayme Thompson. It was a good showing for the group too. Alex from 11W has already done a tremendous job breaking down the performances of each guy here.
While Baugh, Burrows and Woodward turned in very solid performances and continued to help themselves, it was Elliott, Thompson and Marshall that grabbed the headlines.
Elliott and Thompson both picked up right where they left of at the NFTC event in Champaign back in June. Both turned in eye opening performances that brought rave reviews and increased stars. They backed up those performances at "The Opening" and both will see their stocks rise even more as ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247 continue to review their rankings.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Jalin Marshall, who turned in an underwhelming performance. Not only did he run a 4.66 40-yard dash, but he was very quiet in the 7-on-7 portion of the event. He's made news in the last day because 247Sports has dropped him to a four star prospect while also moving him all the way down to the 80th best player in the country. He started the year ranked in their top ten.
On the other end of the spectrum, are Elliott and Thompson any better players now that they are being ranked higher? No. So, remember it works both ways. While I have a hard time believing there are 79 better players in the country than Marshall, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.
Off my soapbox. Let's get on way the rundown...
Mike Mitchell Watch
One of the other major story lines from "The Opening" was linebacker Mike Mitchell. The 6-4 215 pound prospect out of Plano, Texas stole the show posting a 154.47 SPARQ rating. That score not only won him the SPARQ competition, but also gave him bragging rights as it was the best score ever. To post that score he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash, a 4.00 shuttle, had a 47.0" powerball toss and 40.6" vertical leap.
While Mitchell was putting up these gaudy numbers, Buckeye fans got word that he was very high on OSU. In fact, he wasn't shy in saying that he is leaning towards the Buckeyes. While his top three, as he made public, are Ohio State, Florida State and Texas A&M, there is no reason to believe at this point that he will not be Columbus bound. He should be on campus soon, and is set to announce at the Gridiron Kings event in Florida at the end of this month.
This is big news for sure, not only because of Mitchell's upside, but because of the departures of Alex Anzalone and Lewis Neal. While the staff has been trying to recruit athletes that could land at linebacker, like Darron Lee, getting a guy like Mitchell would really help solidify this class. It's also important to mention the Buckeyes growing influence in the state of Texas, something that can be credited to Tom Herman. Fans were excited about what he would be bringing to the offensive game plan, but I think it's fair to say that most underestimated his influence as a recruiter.
Raekwon at Friday Night Lights
FNL (7/27) is going to be a huge recruiting weekend for the Buckeyes, especially with many of the top 2014 prospects. One of those '14 guys is linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, GA), who is arguably the best linebacker in the country, made big news last night when he confirmed that he would be attendance.
While it's only July and these young men have over a year and half until signing day, you wonder what momentum could start that weekend. If Meyer is able to make an impression and get one of these guys to jump on board early, it could be the beginning of a very ridiculous class.
I'll have more on FNL and the visitors in the next rundown in the coming weeks.
OL Rodgers Picks USC
Back in April, I think almost everyone in Buckeye Nation thought offensive guard Khaliel Rodgers would commit to OSU. He was planning on visiting Columbus in May and even talked about committing if the visit went as well as he hoped. Things cooled between the two parties over the last month and a half, and Rodgers picked USC yesterday, a choice that was expected.
Rodgers joins what is becoming an incredible haul by Lane Kiffin's staff. Michigan fans can boast as much as they want, but their class does not measure up to USC's at all. What's going on is Southern Cal is very sick.
Keep An Eye on Florida
While the Buckeyes have definitely shown their national pull in the 2013 class, they've yet to make a huge splash in the state of Florida. There is only player in the class committed from Florida, that being defensive end Joey Bosa. That's a bit surprising when you think about Urban Meyer's connections to the Sunshine State.
There are a handful of Florida prospects that are keeping the Buckeyes on their lists, and it's important for Ohio State fans to keep their eye on them. A couple of the newest names are safety Jamal Carter and wide receiver Levonte Whitfield.
Carter is a name that few have had on their radars, but as Bill Kurelic discovered, he does have interest in visiting Columbus. While Vonn Bell is definitely top priority at safety, it's clear they are looking at all of their options. Whitfield on the other hand is a bit more intriguing. The 5-9 175 pound speedster put up a 4.37 40-yard dash at "The Opening" and has the Buckeyes in his top six schools. He visited Ohio State back in June and came away impressed. While he's in no hurry to make a decision, that's a good thing. The longer he waits around the more likely the staff has a chance to pluck him away from the likes of Florida, Florida State and Miami.