Southern Swing 12

Southern Swing 2024: Travelog

Southern Swing 2024 is underway and the road only knows the path that we will take as we traverse through the Southern United States over the next two-plus weeks.

It is hard to believe that we have been doing this trip for more than a decade, only slowed by a worldwide pandemic one year.

It can be difficult to keep up with all of our travels over the course of this journey, so we are going to do something a little different this year and keep a travel log for you.

Where have we been? Who have we seen? How many miles have we gone? That will all be part of this list that should be updated daily once we get into the thick of the trip.

We probably won’t have weekend updates unless we actually see a player or two over the course of the weekend, but join us in this log of our journeys and ride shotgun as we check out many of Ohio State’s top targets throughout the region.

day 23 – friday may 24th

Miles Driven: 675 Miles (6,082 Total)

Start/Stop: Memphis (Tenn.) to Columbus (Ohio)

Summary: Okay, a lot to unpack here and we didn’t talk to any players as this was our final day of the trip. But that doesn’t mean there is not more content coming, we still have a few stories yet to write, and of course we have the annual “Five Questions” series that will come out in a week or so, plus a Hungry, Hungry Huddle or two to put together.

We got into Memphis so late, all of our (well my) ideas of leaving early to get home at a decent time disappeared as we left the hotel after 12pm. We had lunch in Memphis (you will be hearing more about that later in HHH) and then hit the road.

Storms had moved through the area and it appeared we would be chasing the storm all the way home, but the heavy rain never happened and while it was not exactly nice for the entire trip, it was not as bad as it could have been.

Over the course of this trip, I set my personal high speed records for driving, and mind you, we were in a Rav-4, not a sports car. I am not going to get into my speed and how often I hit it in case any police officers are reading and there is some sort of weird statute in play, but let’s just say I drove fast, a lot, and just about everywhere.

We get to Nashville and never go through downtown, we take the shortcut up north and still get hammered by traffic, like insane traffic. Atlanta still has the worst traffic but we managed to avoid much of that. Not so lucky here.

We break out of this and make it across the state line in Kentucky and I see something that I would have never expected to see. There is an accident (well, we saw many of those) but two guys, either Amish or Mennonite standing on the side of the road. Now, I know enough about the Amish (I watched all those shows on TLC) to know that the Amish can’t drive whereas the Mennonites can. So it was either an Amish Taxi (look it up, it is real) or they weren’t Amish. No horse-and-buggy jokes, please.

I am not going to get into the specifics of the why on this one (yet) but we ended up ditching I-65 and crossing the state to get to I-75 and go up through Lexington (Ky.) instead. I saw more police in the state of Kentucky than I did over the rest of the trip, combined. Remember, I am driving fast, and while Waze has gotten progressively worse through the years, it saved my butt a few times with speed traps and such.

We finally cross into Ohio just shortly after the Reds beat my Dodgers and I was afraid that I was going to run into traffic but thankfully fans were celebrating the win and the many and fantastic bars around Great American Ballpark, so the move through downtown Cincy was fine.

The journey finally got back to Pickerington a little after 12:30am (so I guess this went an extra day, but we are not counting that way) and it took me at least 10 minutes to unload my gear. What had started off as a somewhat orderly collection of gear was strewn all over the car and I just wanted to get it all out of the car so Marc could drive home before having to return the car on Saturday morning.

Well, that’s it. That is Southern Swing 12. We still have a couple stories to post and they will land here as well, but there are no more schools to visit, no more players to talk to, at least under the banner of this trip. Ohio State camps start June 5th, I hope I am ready to sit in a car by that point.


day 22 – thursday may 23rd

Miles Driven: 586 Miles (5,407 Total)

Start/Stop: McKinney (Texas) to Lewisville (Texas) to Memphis (Tenn.)

Schools Visited: McKinney HS, Lewisville HS*

Summary: This is the last day of interviews but not exactly the last day of the trip because we don’t live in Texas. We have to get home somehow.

But we also were able to shoot a pair of interviews on this trip and had the chance to talk with a couple of priority targets, one on defense and one on offense.

The day in North Texas took a little longer than we had anticipated as we had to wait for one player’s day of school to come to and end and we caught him out with his offseason trainer. That is why we ended up at Lewisville high school, the player does not play there but that is where practice was.

I know that I have said it on social media but I will say it here, I am wholly impressed with the character of all the players we talked to on this trip, just a great bunch of kids (and let’s remember, we are talking about teenagers here). Yes, a couple of old dudes walking into their school to interview has to have a lot of these guys unnerved but everyone did really well and I just would be doing a disservice not to mention that.

So once we finished up our last interview around 5pm (CT) it was time to hit the road. And there is no chance we are driving all the way back to Ohio in one shot (though, we have done that before, that is a story for another time and another place). We decided that Memphis was a good midway point (granted, this is the shorter of the two legs) to stop and call it a night before doing the rest of the drive on Friday.

Before leaving Texas, I had to get my fried pies. If you don’t know what they are, you need to look them up. They are fantastic, not on my diet, but dammit, I earned them.

The drive through Arkansas was long and while it was uneventful, I got angrier and angrier as my knee started to hurt from driving (I refuse to use cruise control, having to have my foot on the accelerator forces me to pay attention) and the game of trucks playing pattycake with one another, one going slightly faster than the other to make a pass. That cut down my average speed on the trip dramatically.

We made it to Memphis to be welcomed by four or five police cars going full speed with their blue lights on in the opposite direction. If I had blue lights of my own, I would have had them on to get to the hotel as we pulled in just slightly after midnight for a final night in the hotel.

Stories: Will the Buckeyes stand tall again with a Texas LB?

Buckeyes won’t have to wait long to get McCutcheon on campus

day 21 – wednesday may 22nd

There is no mileage update or schools update because we just were stuck in a holding pattern on Wednesday. It is the last week of school in the Metroplex and we ran into a bit of a brick wall.

Yes, we have been working hard to get Dakorien Moore, but that does not look like it is happening. He has made it clear that he really doesn’t want to do interviews and we decided not just to roll up to his school or even his spring game.

The weather in Dallas added to the spring game decision, it has been rainy with a good amount of thunder and lightning, and we are not even sure if the game went on as planned with the state of the weather.

We are set up for two interviews on Thursday and will update those by the end of the week.

On a high note, we did hit a popular BBQ place on Wednesday night with a former colleague who is now based in Dallas and it was great catching up, talking shop and just having some top-notch brisket.

day 20 – tuesday may 21st

Miles Driven: 368 Miles (4,821 total)

Start/Stop: Houston to North Crowley (Texas) to McKinney (Texas)

Schools Visited: North Crowley HS

Summary: 7am came way too early in the morning. We needed to be on the road by 8am and still had time to hit a donut shop and get a little sugar rush before the drive to Fort Worth.

The drive was a struggle, I just never really found a groove in the drive and seriously considered pulling over a couple of times and having Marc take the wheel, but I also knew that he was working on setting up the Dallas leg of the trip and that I-45 is a straight road and as long as I kept the car straight, we would be okay.

I didn’t realize how far west North Crowley was/is from everything. I had to remind myself that I lived in Dallas 20 years ago and never went out to Fort Worth, so my lack of knowledge of the Metroplex was understandable.

Very impressed with Henry Fenuku, he was another player that was not exactly into the whole video interview side of things, but he did a great job once the camera was turned on.

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but there is a 2026 lineman at this school that Ohio State has offered as well, but we did not talk to in a formal setting, John Turntine. He is going to be a top-10 national recruit and the Buckeyes will be hard-pressed on this one as everyone will be after him

We made our way to the hotel but made a stop at Torchy’s Tacos. Before anyone gets on me with the fact that there is one at Polaris, I remind them that I live in Pickerington, so it is almost a road trip in itself to go to Polaris, and it has probably been years since I have gone up there with the purpose of going to the mall or just to eat.

Stories: Are the Buckeyes trending for Fenuku?


Miles Driven: 154 Miles (4,453 total)

Start/Stop: Houston to Conroe (Texas) to Houston

Schools Visited: Conroe HS, North Shore HS (sort of)

Summary: We are into what is our final week of the trip (or so I hope so… lol).

When we were planning the trip, there was talk if we were going to hit Texas or not. There never was a question about the value in hitting the state, just the length of the trip.

Well, obviously we decided to go.

We stayed north of the city but you just don’t realize how far north Conroe is until you make the trip. It is up there, but that doesn’t stop the traffic, we watched the southbound lanes jammed up as we made our way up against the traffic flow of the morning.

Conroe is just kicking off a huge set of upgrades to what already looked like a pretty nice set-up to begin with. High school football in Texas is king, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Dorian Brew is not one for the cameras and the light, but kudos for Brew for doing the interview with us, he would just rather play football and announce his decision with just a plain tweet.

We had our big Mexican meal after the interview and I am content, though I am okay with two or three more Mexican meals while we are in Texas.

Obviously, we were going to see Devin Sanchez, but flooding and power outages in the greater Houston area made things a little more challenging as North Shore high school was closed and thanks to Sanchez’s parents, we were able to meet Devin in the evening and do an interview off school grounds with dad in attendance.

Devin is so much more comfortable with the camera on than he was the day in San Antonio where we talked with him prior to his commitment.

I feel that this was one of the best interviews of the whole trip and am looking forward to it getting posted.

We called it a night early as both Marc and myself are operating on just fumes at this point of the trip. No real antics that I can think of from this day, just focused on getting the stories and getting on to the next chapter.

Stories: Catching up with Devin Sanchez

Is Dorian Brew closing in on a decision?

day 18 – sunday may 19th

This is our last ‘break’ day of the trip with interviews scheduled for every remaining day of the trip.

I am going to take this right to the wire with laundry, never did hit a coin-op machine, though I really could stand to wash socks. It is going to be close, but I also don’t want to go buy a pack of socks, if I can avoid it.

Made it to a local brewery that I was given a recommendation for. If you are in Houston, check out Saint Arnold Brewing. The beer is good and the food is even better.

Prior to that, ran through a Whataburger to bring back to the room and it was solid as always. I am not going to play the Whataburger vs. In-N-Out game because I can love both of my children equally.

day 17 – saturday may 18th

Miles Driven: 382 Miles (4,299 total)

Start/Stop: Kenner (La.) to New Orleans to Houston

Schools Visited: St. Augustine

Summary: After a disappointing Friday, we knew that Saturday was a chance for redemption. Over the first two weekends of the trip, there were no updates on players but this one is difference since we had the chance to make it to Jahkeem Stewart’s spring game.

To say that Stewart looks the part would be an understatement and then to remind yourself that he is a class of 2026 (for now), it is even more scary.

It was kind of a wild scene at the spring game because there was tailgating. I have seen booster clubs put a couple of grills out in the parking lot before and maybe cook a few burgers, but this was different. And the home stands were just about full as this was really a community event, it was great to see.

Stewart was double and triple-teamed most of the spring game but still made plays. Quarterbacks were not live, so he probably would have done even more if he were able to really go all-out on getting the QB to the ground.

It was then time to head west and we made our way through Louisiana and its countless roadside gas station casinos. We had to stop for gas (we did see gas for less than three-dollars a gallon in both Louisiana and Texas) at a Love’s and there was a casino attached there as well.

Crossing into Texas we went right into a 75 miles per hour speed zone, so now I am only “sort of speeding” opposed to “totally speeding” as I drive.

We made it into Houston and of course hit a Taco Cabana immediately, because that is what we do. Sunday will be a day of rest and getting caught up before we turn things up in the Lone Star State.

Stories: Jahkeem Stewart looking at a return trip

day 16 – friday may 17th

Miles Driven: 168 Miles (3,917 total)

Start/Stop: Mobile (Ala.) to Kenner (La.)

Schools Visited: It’s complicated

Summary: Well, this one is a little bit of a story. In short, we were at the right school, at the right time, on the right day. But in actuality, the school we were set to hit moved up their spring game by one day and didn’t pass the message on to us.

Yeah, it was not great and we would have loved a heads up, but we also know that a pair of reporters from Ohio are probably the bottom of the priority list when it comes to making a call like that.

We wouldn’t have made it even if we tried with our previous stop the day before of getting Zion Grady at his spring game, but it would have been close.

So, we made it to our next stop, the outskirts of New Orleans and will have a rare Saturday entry coming up as we are set to shoot another spring game before heading to our next location.

Not sure I have anything else that I can say here, just getting to the point where the trip has been a long one and is really starting to wear me out. All previous Southern Swings would be done by this point but look for a couple more days of action from us.

day 15 – thursday may 16th

Miles Driven: 312 Miles (3,749 total)

Start/Stop: Tallahassee (Fla.) to Enterprise (Ala.) to Mobile (Ala.)

Schools Visited: Enterprise HS

Summary: Another hot day and another day of driving (I will have to update miles driven as I left the notepad in the car). There is not a whole lot in the Florida Panhandle off of I-10, so the speeds got to be quite high as we made our way to Enterprise (Ala.).

It was not all interstate driving as we needed to head north and there was even less to see on this part of the trip. We stopped as a turtle was trying to cross the highway and I know in my heart of hearts, things didn’t end well there. I would have stopped the car and physically moved the turtle across the road, if there were a place to stop, but there was not.

We made it to Enterprise and while it may not have been quite as hot as our stop at American Heritage earlier in the trip, we were on the field for an entire spring game, and the heat was something.

Zion Grady is impressive, you just build football players like that. Ohio State is going to have a good shot here, but once again, you don’t just snap your fingers and land a top-50 national player, there will be a lot of work here. Larry Johnson was at the game, and while he couldn’t really talk with Grady, there was an awareness that Ohio State came all the way down to check things out.

As soon as the game was over, we went right to a gas station and I crushed two Gatorades, because that seemed like the right thing to do.

The drive out of Enterprise was even more desolate than the drive in. Went through a couple of towns that had a gas station and a Dollar Tree and not much else.

Got into Mobile a little bit before the storms got to town and went to Walkons for dinner. I thought it was really good, especially for a chain. Not sure it would do well in Columbus as there are too many Cajun items on the menu, but the chicken and sausage gumbo was quite good.

Stories: Buckeyes making big push for Zion Grady

day 14 – wednesday may 15th

Miles Driven: 391 Miles (3,437 total)

Start/Stop: Tampa to Bradenton (Fla.) to Tallahassee (Fla.)

Schools Visited: IMG Academy

Summary: Okay, this was just an off day for myself. Not the case of not having to work, but things just never really clicked for me and maybe by karma extension, for anyone.

Had terrible insomnia the previous night, fell asleep at 5AM and it all kind of went downhill from there.

Just a rather melancholy day for myself, no reason why, just couldn’t get out of my own head.

We were supposed to hit two schools on this day but due to some signals getting crossed (and I am always going to back Marc in this) we made it to our first school, we sat there for almost 90 minutes. But we came away with no interview because of the athlete needing to take a test and messages just were not conveyed.

Not going to mention the school or the player, that is not important, I would rather skip the name and just say that it didn’t happen.

Just prior to that, we tried to find a taco truck (we raved about it last year) by the school, only not to find it. We ended up eating at Wawa, which is not a bad thing, but the giant spill on my shirt was a big thing. Fortunately, when you are traveling with your luggage, you have options.

Down (some more than others) but not defeated, we made our way to Bradenton and hit the standard Tampa/St. Pete traffic. People were especially stupid on the road on this trip, but we made it.

We got to the IMG Spring Game a little on the late side, but still saw several targets along with commit London Merritt go through the paces.

Now, I want to say to not read anything into where we are staying. There is not a target in Tallahassee, we just are trying to get closer to position for our next stop.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day (I am writing this at 12:45am, so it technically is tomorrow… but obviously I am not sleeping right now either. Big problem.

Stories: London Merritt comfortable as an Ohio State commit

Four star linebacker talks upcoming Ohio State visit

Do the Buckeyes have an inside track with Zech Fort?

day 13 – tuesday may 14th

Miles Driven: 280 Miles (3,046 total)

Start/Stop: Dania Beach (Fla.) to Hollywood (Fla.) to Plantation (Fla.) to Tampa

Schools Visited: Chaminade Madonna, American Heritage

Summary: It was hot today. Like really hot.

Suck the life out of you hot.

Thankfully, neither Marc nor myself were asked to run gassers or do bear crawls out on the field.

I was unaware that Einstein Bros. was still open but we found one and I think we are still waiting for our bagel sandwiches. The people there were nice, but it was so slow and I guess it closed at 2, with us rolling in there around 1:40pm.

We made it to Chaminade Madonna, the school that produced Jeremiah Smith to catch up with the next big thing in 2026 (apologies to Chris Henry Jr.). If you have never been to this school (and why would you?) there is a lot closer to the field that is gated, well, we got there and it was closed and we were set to find somewhere else (and further away) to park when I see a head poke out of the security shack, laughing at us, and then hitting the button to allow us in. A good lighthearted moment.

We were at the school for maybe 20 minutes, tops before being back on the road. We had time to kill, so we went to a Starbucks.

Did you know that there is a nationwide shortage of their little boba pearls for two of their drinks? I do now, after sitting near the register and hearing the baristas have to mention that no less than 20 times in the time that we sat there.

We got to American Heritage and I think it was hotter. This is South Florida but we are not near the water, there is no real breeze. It was just hot for the sake of being stupid.

American Heritage is always stacked and while we were there to see two players, there are more dudes on this team and while there were not a lot of coaches there, we saw a couple, including Northwestern.

We made our annual trip across Alligator Alley and up the gulf coast to Tampa. We stopped at a Buffalo Wild Wings, which of course breaks my policy of not eating at chain places that we can get at home, but it was late, we knew the hockey game would be on and it was close to the hotel.

We will do better with our meal choices.

Stories: Relationships key with Louis and Ohio State

Buckeyes after another 5-star Florida receiver

Dia Bell continues to have interest in Ohio State

day 12 – monday may 13th

Miles Driven: 311 Miles (2,766 total)

Start/Stop: Orlando to Vero Beach (Fla.) to Dania Beach (Fla.)

Schools Visited: Jones HS, Vero Beach HS

Summary: It is always a good day when we get a late start (by design) with no morning stops, and that was the case here. Coming out of the weekend, I should be about as well-rested as I can get and it is time to start the new week with a renewed energy.

The drive to Jones high school to see Vernell Brown was uneventful, which is only brought up for later in this entry. We got to the school rather early and sat around and waited for practice to start as we were set to get Brown prior to the start of practice.

As we were talking to Brown, who other than Brian Hartline shows up and starts waving and laughing in the background. This was our first chance to bump into any of the Ohio State coaches on the road, Brown knew that Hartline was coming to check out practice.

Now the day starts to get a little dicey, because we made the decision to get out of downtown Orlando (the high school is in the shadow of Camping World Stadium) and start working our way to the coast before getting gas.

That was not a great decision.

For those of you who have not been to Orlando in the last 20 years, it is a mess of toll roads and just because there is a highway doesn’t mean there is any sort of infrastructure around that highway to support you.

I don’t know if turning the A/C off does anything to save gas, but we tried it as I feathered the accelerator to try and make it to an offramp that had fuel.

We never found one, and decided to just chance it on one.

We drove seven miles and finally made it to a station, limping up to the pump. Only to find out that the pump was barely operational. After 10 minutes and getting two gallons into the tank, we knew that we had enough to get to I-95 and a station that was in the business of selling gas and not of breaking hearts.

The trip took us to Vero Beach where we ran into Jim Knowles, James Laurinaitis and Justin Frye, who were there to check out several players, including Ohio State commit TJ Alford.

The night ended with about a 90-minute drive to our next stop to get into position for Tuesday afternoon interviews. The drivers did not disappoint once we truly crossed into South Florida as we nearly saw half a dozen wrecks with people weaving in and out of traffic.

Stories: Ohio State checks the boxes for Vernell Brown

Buckeyes will be tough to beat for Champ Smith

Buckeyes send three to Alford spring game as he remains solid

day 10/11- Saturday/sunday may 11th/12th

Summary: I know that I will not do this entry the justice that it deserves, I fall a day or two behind and then it is difficult to remember all of the details, especially when it comes to non-interview days.

Firstly, I don’t ever need to stay on International Drive in Orlando ever again. Look, I love theme parks maybe more than the next guy, but the absolute chaos of it all… it looked like a bad night in Myrtle Beach out there, at all times.

The highlight of the time off was getting to go and hang out with a couple of board members, a father and son, and their families. We had brisket that was out of this world and sat out back and had a couple of cold pops watching nature and talking of all things, Ohio State football.

The lowlight may have been a visit to Cici’s Pizza. We don’t have steak dinners along the way on this trip, and it was about 9pm and neither of us wanted to really do anything in terms of a sit-down place. We nearly saw a family fight while we ate our ‘pizza’ and it was something. The funniest part to me is that everyone looked up to see what was going on and then went back to their meals.

Oh, and people around Orlando can’t drive. But I chalk that up to Orlando (in that area of town) is overrun by people from all four corners of the globe. This is different than my upcoming complaints about people in South Florida not being able to drive.

day nine – Friday may 10th

Miles Driven: 564 Miles (2,455 total)

Start/Stop: Macon (Ga.) to Jacksonville (Fla.) to Orlando (Fla.)

Schools Visited: Warner Robins HS, Mandarin HS, The Bolles School

Summary: We go into this day knowing that we will have a lot of driving to do, but sometimes that is just part of the Southern Swing. We make the short(ish) drive to Warner Robins to catch up with a very impressive defensive lineman (more on that later in the stories) before making our first long driving leg.

Major storms blew through the area overnight and we are chasing the back end of the storm system but fortunately (at the time) instead of being sent down through Savannah, we drive straight down Interstate 75 into Florida.

Once we get to Florida, it is pretty obvious that a major system has moved through as there are trees down (more than one or two) and debris all over the highway. We did not see any damage to roadside structures, but it must have been a hell of a (bad) ride through these parts.

We made our turn on to Interstate 10 towards Jacksonville and were running dangerously low on gas. We knew there were two more offramps before we hit the national forest and zero options. The first offramp had a Burger King, and little else, so you know we drove right past that.

The next offramp was chosen for us and there was a Wendy’s, set to open sometime in 2025. We stopped anyways and I just had to buy a bag of skittles to try and sugar shock myself into finishing up the drive.

Had an uneventful stop at each of the high schools and will have some great stories coming out of those two stops over the course of the weekend.

Met with a board member and had a fantastic dinner in Jacksonville before heading off to Orlando. My Buc-ees count is now up to six locations as we passed two along the way. Have not stopped at one yet, but it is coming.

We had take a surface route through Deland because of an accident on Interstate 4 shutting down all westbound lanes, so we saw some of the sites of the fringes of Daytona.

Our hotel shares a parking lot with a mini golf course, so that could be in our future. We have a lot of writing left to do this weekend to get caught up, but we have made it to weekend number two and hopefully a little rest.

Stories: Where do things really stand with Jaime Ffrench?

Ohio State will get its chance with top-50 star Isaiah Gibson

Relationships are key for Buckeyes and top-2026 Tight End

Caldwell has surprising ties to Ohio State

day eight – thursday may 9th

Miles Driven: 163 Miles (1,891 total)

Start/Stop: Duluth (Ga.) to Suwanee (Ga.) to Loganville (Ga.) to Buford (Ga.) to Macon (Ga.)

Schools Visited: Collins Hill HS, Grayson HS, Buford HS

Summary: This was not the most eventful day in terms of things happening on the trip, but it will end up being a strong content day as we hit three schools and talked to five players.

We were able to get a late start with the way the schedule worked out and caught up on much needed sleep, especially after watching late hockey playoff games.

All three of the schools were close to one another, at least as the crow flies but Atlanta traffic and all made it a little bit longer of a trek.

Deuce Geralds absolutely loves Ohio State. I am not ready to declare a destination for him but it is obvious that he is all about Larry Johnson and the Buckeyes. As you can see in his video, he wore Ohio State gear just for us. But he also really enjoys doing interviews (in person) and his bigger than life personality may not even come across as well on tape as it does in person.

We made it to go see Tyler Atkinson, who made news going into high school with an Ohio State offer and doing the camp circuit, He continues to develop into one of the top players in the state.

Before getting to Buford for their spring game, we found a little New York pizza place. It was pretty solid, the slices were huge, but the size of the slices hurt the structural integrity of the pizza. In retrospect, it would have been better to order a pie than do slices, which had toppings put on pre-reheat. But I would eat there again and talked to a few locals that said we stumbled into a good place.

Dylan Raiola, one-time Ohio State commit, was at the Buford game to watch his brother, Dayton. He was rewarded as Dayton threw a second half touchdown as Buford won its spring game against Norcross.

We then drove to Macon to get in position for the first stop of Friday morning. The hotel was a really good deal but its proximity to the train tracks was not known in advance. That didn’t matter as the storms that rolled into town were much louder than the train.

Stories: Atkinson building strong relationship with Buckeyes

Buckeyes a top contender for Deuce Geralds

Top 2026 Defensive Lineman sees opportunties at Ohio State

Ohio State standing out for Anthony Davis

A dream offer for Nassir McCoy

day seven – Wednesday May 8th

Miles Driven: 306 Miles (1,728 total)

Start/Stop: Duluth (Ga.) to Carrollton (Ga.) to White (Ga.) to Douglasville (Ga.) to Duluth (Ga.)

Schools Visited: Carrollton HS, Cass HS, Douglas County HS

Summary: This was an interesting day because it had a little bit of everything and I may have to come in here and change notes up as I remember more details.

I have to write these a day after things happened just because of travel times and keeping focus on the real reason that I am here, the actual interview content. So there is always a chance that I can forget an item or two.

Or, it could also be the fact that I had to be up at 5:40 am on this day because the order of our stops had us having to fight Atlanta rush hour traffic to head back close to Alabama to get to Carrollton high school.

I think that Juju Lewis was thrilled that we had no interest in interviewing him and instead were focused on a pair of his younger teammates.

Let me tell you, Carrollton high school has amazing facilities, and we are not talking about a near Atlanta suburb, this school has to be less than 20 miles from the Alabama state line. But everything is ultra modern at the school and the vast majority of Ohio high schools would trade facilities with Carrollton in a second.

After a little bit of rest back at the hotel, we made our way to White (Ga.) and for those who don’t know where that is, it is okay, we were not sure either. It neighbors Cartersville (Ga.) and is more of a known name.

But the school was off of an exit that had two choices for a “fast” meal… either Subway or Burger King.

I don’t like Burger King. I am okay with Subway. But we had to get to our next stop and the idea of trying to eat a sub sandwich while driving was not appealing.

So we get this.

Marc needs to hold the camera higher, doesn’t he know anything about taking TikTok videos?

On our way to Douglas County high school, the nav system takes us mostly on smaller roads to avoid the glut of Atlanta traffic, yet we still manage to see a fender-bender as a car and pick-up rear end one another.

We did not stop, no harm and no foul and we couldn’t get slowed down over 13 cents of damage.

At our final stop, we watched a young news photographer shooting video off of a tripod ‘way too close’ to the action and she ended up getting trucked. She was sent flying, the camera went to the ground, obviously damaged and an audible gasp (and some Oh S***s! were heard as well). We later found out that she suffered a concussion, so thoughts and prayers go out to her.

Aaron Gregory is going to be special. Aaron Gregory IS special. That’s all I have to say on that.

We ended the evening going out and meeting up with a current board member and a future board member (I am going to kick his butt if he doesn’t sign up soon) and had a great time.

Our waitress, well… smile, it’s not all that bad. She was just having a bad night.

Stories: Ryan Mosley speechless after picking up Ohio State offer

2026 Georgia QB grew up focused on Ohio State

Zelus Hicks is next great Georgia safety

Aaron Gregory a priority for Brian Hartline & Buckeyes

day six – Tuesday may 7th

Miles Driven: 367 Miles (1,422 total)

Start/Stop: Columbus (Ga.) to Opelika (Ala.) to Birmingham (Ala.) to Duluth (Ga.)

Schools Visited: Opelika HS, Parker HS

Summary: Why start in Columbus (Ga.)? Well, we had hopes of getting a player out that way but even with the best of Southern Swings, sometimes plans fall through, but we were in position to check out two players from the state of Alabama with Malik Autry and Na’eem Offord.

Almost as important, we saw a pair of Buc-ees along the way but did not stop, there will be time for that later, but we had a schedule to keep.

This is the first day where driving with “bad drivers” around me started to catch up as I was pretty free with the middle finger and the F-bombs, but that also is another tradition of the Southern Swing.

The facilities at Opelika high school were amazing, they had a small indoor field house with about 20 yards of field turf that was brand new (installed just that week according to the head coach, along with new turf at the stadium.

I really like where Ohio State stands with Autry right now as they are still early in this process. That doesn’t mean I am calling for the flip to happen, but I think there is a real chance it happens.

We then made our way to Birmingham but stopped in Hoover (Ala.) for dinner and we will talk about that at a later point.

Na’eem Offord is in the Christen Miller camp of all-time great interviews, you will have a chance shortly to see that one. He was working with younger players, coaching them up and looked good in drill work as his team went through practice. The offense did not test him often, so we don’t have as many clips as we would like, but that sign of respect is more than enough for us.

Stories: Eye opening visit for top-100 defensive tackle

Na’eem Offord focused on the big picture

day five – monday may 6th

Miles Driven: 385 Miles (1,055 total)

Start/Stop: Matthews (NC) to Columbus (Ga.)

Schools Visited: Myers Park HS, Providence Day School

Summary: This is the day where the trip felt real, even if a couple of day head start. We were fortunate in a lot of ways not to have an early morning shoot, so we got off to a nice start getting over to Myers Park and catching Brody Keefe before his workout.

Keefe has a quiet confidence about him and feels like someone who would fit well in Ohio State’s crowded wide receiver room. Remember that he is a class of 2026, so this one should take some time, but I like Ohio State’s chances.

We then made the short drive to Providence Day to see David Sanders. We got out of Myers Park so quickly, we had a lot of time to sit and wait and wait and wait. It is just part of the job, no complaints, but in retrospect, it may have been better to take our time and detour on the way there.

Had a chance to meet the Sanders family and you can tell that David Jr. comes from a strong family unit and it just is all part of the package that you are going to land with Sanders, whatever that lucky school is.

We made the decision to get aggressive and bypass Atlanta, only with plans to come back later in the week and head south, into Columbus (Ga.) to get into position for the 7th.

There was a torrential downpour on the way, people were acting stupid on the road, going way too slow. We were not trying to rush the system, but there were a lot of unsafe drivers along the way. We also encountered a couple of minor fender benders as well and got stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere.

We made it to the hotel after 1am (ET) but made it nonetheless.

Stories: Is Ohio State trending up for David Sanders Jr.?

Brody Keefe continues to build relationship with Brian Hartline

day three/four – Saturday/sunday may 4th/5th

Summary: Not much happened in terms of the Swing on these two days as we enjoyed the opportunity to not have to change hotels on a nightly basis.

We spent the two days writing stories and planning later stops for the trip as well as watching both the NBA and NHL playoffs.

If we manage to get even 80-percent of the players that we are trying to set up to talk to, this is going to go down as the most ambitious Southern Swing of the entire series. Stay tuned.

Day Two – Friday May 3rd

Miles Driven: 232 Miles (670 total)

Start/Stop: Matthews (N.C.) to Greensboro (N.C.) to Matthews

Schools Visited: Weddington HS, Grimsley HS

Summary: This marked the first full day of the swing and we hit a pair of schools. We started off locally at Weddington which is a school that turns out a lot of talent and wins a lot of games. Among its famous alums is Will Shipley.

It was a family affair as the Harris twins and Thomas Davis Jr. are cousins and of course the question comes up about a package deal with the three and there are varying opinions among the three about the likelihood of that, but you have to figure that the twins (Aiden and Andrew) will go to the same school.

We then hopped into the car and headed to Greensboro to check out Faizon Brandon, one of the nation’s top players in the class of 2026. The school is very close to UNC-Greensboro and it is another school that wins a ton of games. There is also a tight end at this school that Ohio State is keeping an eye on but has not moved on, at least not yet.

We then made our way through Lexington (N.C.) for a little Carolina BBQ on our way back to Matthews.

The night wrapped up with a member of the Huddle community reaching out and offering us tickets to go to the Carolina Knights game, an offer that we gladly said yes to. After several beers there and some bourbon afterwards, we called it a night and prepared for the weekend, a last chance to rest for at least the next seven days.

Stories: Top-100 linebacker talks Ohio State interest

Buckeyes make big impression on Aiden Harris

Top 2026 QB has definite interest in what Buckeyes offer

Andrew Harris talks what a Buckeyes offer meant

Day One – Thursday May 2nd

Miles Driven: 438 Miles

Start/Stop: Columbus (Ohio) to Matthews (N.C.)

Schools Visited: Hurricane HS

Summary: We finally hit the road and the conditions were nice and sunny for travel. While we have certainly driven through West Virginia in the past, this is the first player (Da’Ron Parks) in the history of the series that we have stopped to see, even with Ohio State throwing offers out in the state from time-to-time.

Da'Ron Parks and Marc Givler speaking with microphones in their hands overlooking the football stadium at Hurricane high school in West Virginia.

Rolled into Hurricane a little early, but I have been told that I drive with a lead foot and need to watch my speed. They have a great facility at this school and should as one of the most dominant programs in the state.

After finishing up at the school, we headed south towards Charlotte and made it with no incidents and when in North Carolina, you have to grab some Cookout. So much food for a reasonable amount of money.

It is the welcome to North Carolina sign on Interstate 77 South entering Surry County.

Tomorrow will be a big day as we hit a pair of schools and really get things rolling.

Stories: Parks sees a lot to like about Ohio State

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