Ohio State's national championship hopes took a hit last Tuesday when the school announced senior quarterback Braxton Miller would miss the season with a shoulder injury. The Buckeyes will turn to former Elite 11 quarterback J.T. Barrett to step up for the injured Miller.
On the recruiting trail, OSU has dual-threat signal-caller Joe Burrow committed for 2015. So there isn't a reason to panic when looking toward the future of the program. The 3-star is an in-state prospect who put up PlayStation-type numbers to the tune of 3,732 yards passing and 47 touchdowns to go with 589 yards rushing and nine more scores as a junior.
Burrow is talented, but Ohio State will continue to actively recruit 4-star athlete Torrance Gibson. Gibson is one of the most athletically gifted prospects in the Class of 2015. He is dangerous when plays break down and he has to improvise. This summer he took part in the Elite 11 Finals in Beaverton, Oregon, and he seems to be serious about improving as a passer.
On Sunday afternoon, Gibson completed 7-of-11 pass attempts for 298 yards and five touchdowns in his team's 49-23 rout of Palm Beach Gardens (Florida) Dwyer in a nationally televised game on ESPN.
Head coach Urban Meyer and Gibson could be a lethal combo in the Big Ten for years to come. The 6'4", 200-pound lefty from Plantation (Florida) American Heritage School has similar ability to former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL first-round pick Tim Tebow. Gibson will be in Columbus for the Ohio State-Virginia Tech game on Sept. 6. Expect his visit to get the red-carpet treatment.
When asked what Gibson plans to take from the visit, he told me following his game: "I want to go up there and have a good time with all of the recruits. The last time I was there, I liked it. I'll get a chance to see Braxton. He is real cool and we have a good bond. We joked a lot when I was up there last time. I look up to him, and we have the same ability on the field, so there's a connection."
Gibson said Arizona and Oklahoma were in his top three. Both schools want him at quarterback, and that is the only position he wants to play at the next level. The 247Sports Crystal Ball has him as a 67 percent lock to Ohio State.
Gibson added, "Ohio State is my clear leader. I like the offense they run; I really like everything. I know it's cold, but it's cold in the NFL too. The most important thing is they want me at quarterback, not athlete."
The 4-star field general said Ohio State is his only planned official visit. Without trips set up to Norman or Tucson, it's safe to say the Crystal Ball could be changed to 100 percent before his announced commitment date of Oct. 20.
5-Star Cornerback Kendall Sheffield Schedules Unofficial Visit
Standout cornerback Kendall Sheffield out of Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Marshall is heading to Houston, Texas, this weekend for the top-15 matchup of Wisconsin-LSU. Sheffield will be on hand to watch the Bayou Bengals. Although he doesn't have a top five, he is considering the Tigers along with Alabama and Texas A&M.
Sheffield told me, "LSU offered me when I was in 10th grade. I have a good relationship with secondary coach Corey Raymond. I went to LSU's camp and their spring game. Plus, my favorite cornerback is Patrick Peterson. Coach Raymond reminds me of that too."
Earlier this month, Sheffield attended a scrimmage in College Station. He told 247Sports Recruiting Insider Brian Perroni (subscription required) he liked what he saw, putting the Aggies in good shape with Alabama firmly in the picture.
"I've been building a great relationship with Coach [Clarence] McKinney. I feel very comfortable with Texas A&M and their staff," explained Sheffield. "My family likes that it's close to home, but there isn't any pressure to stay close to home."
Sheffield affirmed that everyone is even at this time. Track is a big part of Sheffield's recruitment, similar to Marlon Humphrey and Tony Brown in the Class of 2014, who both signed with Alabama. Sheffield is a state champion in the 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. "Track is important to me, but at the end of the day I'm going to college as a football player," Sheffield told Bleacher Report.
The fleet-footed corner plans to announce at the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando.
Auburn Going After a Pair of 5-stars from Florida
The Tigers kick off SEC play Saturday against Arkansas. Auburn will be without starting quarterback Nick Marshall to start the game after he was caught with less than one once of marijuana before SEC Media Days. Currently, War Eagle sits comfortably at No. 9 in the 247Sports team rankings.
I spoke to Ivey's head coach, Rick Darlington of Apopka (Florida), over the weekend, and he feels Auburn and Florida are neck and neck. "Right now those are the top two. Someone will have to make a great run to get ahead of those two," stated Darlington.
"I'm not saying he couldn't go somewhere else either. I know LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes loves him. Alabama and Florida State are in his top five, and everyone wants to go to those places. He wears Nebraska shirts when he works out. With Auburn, they have done a great job building relationships with Tez. Florida has a new staff in there, but they are a good program too."
Ivey is the prototypical tackle prospect, but the thing that stands out is his ability to learn and grow on and off the field, according to Darlington.
"Tez is playing strong guard for us right now because that's where we need him to win," boasted Darlington. "He has grown as a player, but what I'm most proud of is the work he puts in. He doesn't miss a rep in practice and is first in sprints.
"This summer he was invited to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour in Baltimore. He missed it because he chose to go the Bahamas to play soccer with orphans. That's the kind of person he is."
Auburn is also looking to make a big impression on 5-star cornerback Kevin Toliver II this weekend. Toliver is taking an official visit to The Plains on Friday. The Tigers are hoping a strong showing could give the LSU recruit something to think about. Toliver's teammate Jeffery Holland is high on Auburn and Florida. If they can somehow flip Toliver, expect Holland to follow.
U.S. Army All-American Tarvarus McFadden Keeping It Close to Vest
Over the summer, Plantation (Florida) American Heritage cover man Tarvarus McFadden was busy with trips to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour and The Opening. His recruitment was put on the back burner a bit. Now that the season has kicked off, McFadden is having a tough time trimming his options down.
The 6'3", 198-pounder told Bleacher Report following his game Sunday, "I don't really have a top five. The schools that I'm considering are Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State and UCF. I may go up to Ohio State for an official visit on Sept. 6 with Torrance, but I haven't set up anything."
McFadden took an unofficial visit to Florida State over the summer, and he enjoyed his trip to Tallahassee. "It was a great visit. I really enjoyed it a lot," said McFadden. "I talk to Coach [Sal] Sunseri, Coach [Charles] Kelly and Coach [Bill] Miller. Really I talk to all of them."
So what if Gibson commits to Ohio State? Will that help the Buckeyes?
"We've joked about it from time to time. However, only will time tell," remarked McFadden. "Right now I don't have a decision date, but I want to do it soon. I can't keep waiting."
Speedy Flanker Christian Kirk Talks Top Six
Very blessed to be in this position! Top 6 no order!🙏 pic.twitter.com/qEVjknygFX— Christian Kirk (@ChristianDavon2) August 6, 2014
Earlier this month, Scottsdale (Arizona) Saguaro split end Christian Kirk took to Twitter to announce his top six of Arizona State, Auburn, Ohio State, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC. The 247Sports Crystal Ball has the Aggies trending, with a 75 percent chance he commits to A&M.
Kirk said he doesn't have a leader and everyone is even. When asked if he feels better about a certain staff or campus, he said, "Right now I feel comfortable with all the staff members at the schools in my top six. Same with the campuses. I'm deciding in late November or early December. The biggest factor in my decision is offensive scheme and how I fit in."
I like the fit for Kirk at A&M in its wide-open spread passing attack. He is the ideal slot receiver with superb lateral cutting ability and soft hands. If Kirk opts for College Station, he could team up with fellow Arizona natives Kyle Allen and defensive end Qualen Cunningham. Allen is the second-team quarterback, and a future Kirk-to-Allen pitch-and-catch battery could be the next Manziel-to-Mike Evans combo at Kyle Field.
Does the appeal of playing with a highly touted quarterback like Allen appeal to him, or is there family pressure to stay closer to home?
He told me emphatically, "My family hasn't pressured at all. With Allen being at A&M, it doesn't necessarily help them. However, he's a great QB, so it's just a bonus that he is a good friend of mine."
Clemson vs. Georgia Recruiting Impact
On Saturday, Clemson and Georgia will meet in Athens for a marquee SEC vs. ACC contest. The game will be a big one for college football fans, but the ramifications in recruiting may be bigger.
Clemson has always recruited Georgia well, and this year is no different. Suwanee (Georgia) North Gwinnett offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt is the headliner of the Tigers class. Clemson also has pledges from Peach State standouts Austin Bryant, Shadell Bell and Zach Giella.
Ryan Bartow of 247Sports says a Georgia win could help slow the Tigers, but not by much because of the value Clemson has placed on recruiting the state.
"A Georgia win could help with a guy like Albert Huggins. Huggins grew up a big fan of Georgia, but he has only been there once," noted Bartow to Bleacher Report. "He has been to Clemson several times, and it seems like everyone around him wants him to go to Clemson."
Head coach Dabo Swinney has made Georgia a priority for his staff. Swinney has given a strong effort to lay pipeline in the state's fertile ground.
"Clemson has always had success in Georgia. They always should too. Clemson is only 20 miles from the Georgia border. What they've done since Jeff Scott took over as the recruiting coordinator is put four coaches in the Atlanta era," added Bartow.
"[Brent] Venables has Cobb County. Mike Reed has Fulton County. Marion Hobby has DeKalb County, and Tony Elliott has Gwinnett County," Bartow continued. "They also have Robbie Caldwell covering Middle Georgia. Danny Pearman has Valdosta and southwest Georgia, and Scott has southeast Georgia. So in total, [they have] seven coaches dedicated to the area. They treat it like it's in-state, and they need to do that. Georgia is the fourth-biggest producer of Division I talent."
Huggins is down to Clemson and Georgia. The 247Sports Crystal Ball has him 92 percent leaning toward Clemson. Georgia is hoping to reverse the trend on Huggins and make a push with a win over Clemson to start the season.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand.