Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. Monday’s edition has Jack Miller back on the field and Ohio State making the cut for 5-star linebacker Sav’ell Smalls.
Jack Miller heading to Elite 11 Finals
After losing almost half of his junior year at Chaparral High School in Arizona due to a torn MCL, Ohio State 2020 commitment Jack Miller is back to 100 percent — and back on the field.
Miller took part in two competitive events. First, a 7-on-7 tournament on Saturday — then on Sunday he was getting in work at the Elite 11/The Opening Regional at Long Beach City College, the first regional event this year for college football’s premier recruiting combine.
“I threw it good,” Miller said. “Even though it was raining and super windy.”
He threw it better than good: Miller was named the quarterback MVP at The Opening and locked in his spot at the Elite 11 Finals, which will happen in June in Los Angeles.
— Elite11 (@Elite11) February 11, 2019
The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Miller was having a spectacular junior year for the Firebirds, throwing for almost 2,500 yards in seven games. His development has caught the eye of people in Columbus, and that’s one of the reasons why I think Ohio State is content right now with just Miller at quarterback in 2020.
“Who would we take with him?” one voice inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center said last week when asked about a second quarterback. “I think [Miller] is the best passer in the country in his class.”
Miller is working to get better and he’s also been working to make his recruiting class better.
Sav’ell Smalls lists Ohio State in Top 12
The Buckeyes have one commitment from the Seattle area in the Class of 2020, and now they’re hoping Gee Scott can help clear the runway as they continue to pursue 5-star linebacker Sav’ell Smalls.
Smalls, the country’s top-ranked outside linebacker, released a top-12 list on Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes have made the cut.
— Sav’ell Smalls 🧬 (@SavvySmalls_9) February 10, 2019
“Ohio State has been a school Iâ€™ve watched for years, ever since I was young,” Smalls toldÂ Lettermen Row. “Iâ€™ve seen them produce a lot of good defensive linemen and they continue to do it, so Iâ€™d be dumb not to have DLU in there.”
There’s a long way to go for Ohio State here. Smalls, 6-f0ot-3, 230-pounds, has not yet visited Columbus, but he has been to Alabama, Florida, Florida State and other destinations that are a long way from Seattle. What those schools don’t have working in their favor is Scott. He’s been regularly in the ear of Smalls and a host of other Pacific Northwest standouts in an attempt to bring them with him to Ohio State.
“Recently I’ve been talking to Gee,” he said. “Heâ€™s just thrown the idea around on what we could both do there and how fun itâ€™d be.”
Kaden Saunders is young name to watch
Westerville South High School has been very good to Ohio State athletics over the years, and another potential star is budding for the Wildcats. His name is Kaden Saunders, a 2022 two-sport athlete who thrives on the baseball diamond and started every game as a freshman football player.
Saunders is a 5-foot-11, 155-pound receiver prospect who put up a 4.43-second time in the 40-yard dash on Sunday at the Best of the Midwest combine in Indianapolis. He’s young and raw on the football field, but Saunders has already begun to draw attention from around the region.
“Michigan State has come in multiple times, I actually have a visit there next weekend,” Saunders told Lettermen Row. “Penn State came in and told me they want me there for a junior day to see theirÂ campus. Michigan came in when they were recruiting our long snapper and they just said hello to me. They would stay in touch, and Ohio State sent me mail earlier this week. I took an unofficial visit to Texas last month.”
The visit to Texas is interesting, as it ties into some already existing relationships Saunders had around the Buckeyes program, specifically with former Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton, now in the same role with the Longhorns.
“Drayton is a good family friend,” Saunders said. “I was going down for a baseball camp and I visited for their junior day.Â I used to go into the facilities all the time when he was a coach at Ohio State because my dad was deployed in Cuba, so he took me in as kind of a son to him, I guess.Â His daughter and my little sister did gymnastics together my whole life. Heâ€™s like an uncle to me.”
Saunders appears to be an athlete capable of following in the footsteps of former Wildcat and current Buckeyes receiver Jaelen Gill, who many thought could be a big-time baseball prospect if he chose that sport. Gill, like Saunders, grew up rooting for Ohio State but watching schools that could provide a path to professional sports in either football or baseball.
“Iâ€™ve always been a Buckeyes fan, but now that recruiting is starting for both baseball and football, Iâ€™m starting to watch a lot more schools,” he said. “Hearing from Ohio State more would mean the world to me. I grew up in Columbus and have always been a huge fan of them. It would mean a lot.”
The young athlete camped at Ohio State last summer and expects to do the same this year.
“Iâ€™m gonna try to get to the Friday Night Lights,” Saunders said. “And I’ll do the one-day position camp again like I did last summer.”
As a freshman, Saunders ran the ball 27 times for 203 yards and caught 12 passes for 229 through the air. He also returned kicks and punts for the Wildcats, averaging 20-yards per touch on special teams.