Observations From Ohio State’s 1st Summer Camp

By June 7, 2019 (9:23 am)Football, Garrett Stepien
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After members of Ohio State’s coaching staff spent last Friday at Rutgers for the Scarlet Knights’ East Coast Elite camp, the Buckeyes hosted their own event Thursday when they started the June slate in Columbus with the skills/big man camp on the Woody Hayes Athletic Center’s outdoor practice fields.

The camp featured skill players in the morning and linemen in the afternoon, an even split for OSU and more than 30 schools — including Boston College, Iowa State and RU — to coach and evaluate the high school football prospects on display.

From top performances on the field to notable spectators and other observations, BSB looks back at an eventful first camp of the summer for head coach Ryan Day.

The Offers

Ohio State extended offers to two offers — one who has long been on the Buckeyes’ radar and another who broke out with an impressive performance in front of OSU’s staff — in the 2021 class.

The first went to Dublin (Ohio) Coffman four-star safety A.J. Kirk, the younger brother of former Ohio State safety Mike Doss (1999-2002). The 6-0, 200-pounder is from the same high school as four-star all-purpose back Michael Drennen (5-10 1/2, 187), one of the Buckeyes’ top targets in the 2020 class. The 15th offer for Kirk, whom OSU sees as a fit for its new hybrid linebacker/safety “bullet” position, meant a bit more when he told his older brother about the news.

“His reaction — he got a little teary eyed, but he just said, ‘A.J., that just means you got to go out here and work a little harder, each and every day,'” Kirk said, “‘because he said, ‘You’re going to have a target on your back and everyone’s going to be wanting to come after you.'”

The second went to Bowling Green, Ky., tight end Jordan Dingle. The 6-4, 230-pounder caught the eyes of Kevin Wilson and landed an offer from the Buckeyes after a conversation with the offensive coordinator/tight ends coach and Day inside the team facility. Rutgers, Kent State and Toledo also offered Dingle at the camp.

“They were just impressed with my ability that I have, being able to move and just catch the ball,” said Dingle, who previously picked up offers from Kentucky and Louisville. “I was running around, being physical, just giving it my all and they saw that, saw my effort and everything.”

The Prospects

Still without a tight end for the 2020 class, Ohio State worked out three local stars at the position, but none came away with an offer — yet.

The three-star trio of Mansfield’s Clay Caudill (6-5, 230), Columbus Grandview Heights’ Luke Lachey (6-6, 220) and Cincinnati Elder’s Joe Royer (6-5, 225) received extra work from Day and Wilson after the morning session ended.

Lachey and Royer appeared to stand out more from 1-on-1 reps of the camp, flashing some athleticism, but the Buckeyes’ search for a tight end continues with the Ohioans as potential options down the road.

“We thought we got pushed a lot by Coach Wilson and I feel like we came up for it, and I think we did well,” said Lachey, who is the son of former OSU offensive guard Jim Lachey (1981-84).

The Targets

In both classes, Ohio State’s first camp offered an opportunity for the coaching staff to get around some of its top targets from 2020 and ’21.

The morning session featured Massillon (Ohio) Washington four-star wide receiver Jayden Ballard, who continues to build his bond with wide receivers coach Brian Hartline. The 6-2, 175-pounder is over 20 offers with the Buckeyes heavily involved in a recruitment led by Hartline — a fellow Stark County native by way of North Canton and GlenOak High School. In possession of an OSU offer since last June, Ballard showed burst, physicality and straight-line speed in his latest camp performance as he remains atop the board for 2021.

In the afternoon, a pair of in-state defensive linemen for 2020 — Cincinnati Princeton four-star tackle Darrion Henry and Pickerington Central three-star end Ty Hamilton — headlined the targets on hand. Henry (6-4 1/2, 279), who included Ohio State in his top six April 29, embraced individual work with defensive line coach Larry Johnson while Day watched.

Hamilton (6-3, 250), who is the younger brother of Buckeyes senior defensive tackle Davon Hamilton (6-4, 310), received an offer May 28. He has nearby OSU (June 14-16 official visit) high among his top three options, nearing a decision with Michigan (June 21-23 official visit) and Penn State (June 8-10 official visit) as the two competitors.

“The big takeaway is just learning from (Johnson) as a coach,” Hamilton said. “Being a possibility of going to Ohio State, just learning how he coaches — how he coaches me, personally — it’s a big decision for me to have that experience with the coaches.”

The Commitments

Plenty of future Buckeyes returned to Columbus for camp, an opportunity to learn directly from Ohio State’s position coaches and get back around Day.

The list was headlined by an OSU pledge who did not compete, though, when Paris Johnson pulled up with Henry and Cincinnati Princeton head coach Mike Daniels. Now at Princeton after he transferred May 3 from Cincinnati St. Xavier to fulfill his early enrollment for January 2020, Johnson was decked out in scarlet and gray while he watched his new high school teammate and hung around Ohio State players all afternoon. Johnson (6-7 1/2, 295) has been committed to the Buckeyes since June 28, 2018, despite visits elsewhere after former head coach Urban Meyer (2012-18) retired, but the camp setting offered a relaxed environment for the 247Sports composite’s No. 1 offensive tackle to be back around OSU and other commitments.

The remaining pledges on hand for 2020 included Ohio State’s two other in-state offensive tackles. Cincinnati Elder’s Jakob James (6-5, 275) and Norwalk’s Trey Leroux (6-8, 355) spent the afternoon under the guidance of offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, who at times put the pair together for drills.

Just outside Columbus, Pickerington (Ohio) North five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer was back on campus for his latest trip to compete at camp under Larry Johnson’s direction. One of two commitments in the Buckeyes’ 2021 class with Philadelphia St. Joseph’s four-star quarterback Kyle McCord (6-3, 204) as the other, Sawyer looked the part at 6-5 and 230 pounds.

The Players

Ohio State players from the offensive and defensive lines, among other positions, were out in full force for the camp.

Out of the offensive linemen, junior left tackle Thayer Munford was rather active while leading groups through drills. The 6-6, 310-pounder missed all of spring camp with a lower-back injury — a recovery Day said Wednesday was “really looking good now” — and looked healthy. He moved sharply through his drill demonstrations, including one where Munford went side to side before shooting upfield.

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