OSU solidifies top contender status

Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier linebacker Justin Hilliard made his latest in what has been a series of recruiting visits to Ohio State this weekend, and the trip further raised the Buckeye's status with the Rivals100 prospect.
"That was my first spring practice and I got to see the atmosphere. It was a high energy practice, which I liked," Hilliard said. "I have seen the academic stuff, I have talked to the coaches and seen the facilities, so probably the practice was mainly the new thing with them.
"Last time I talked with all the coaches, but this time I got a lot more time with them. I talked to Coach [Urban] Meyer for about 30 minutes, Coach [Luke] Fickell for about 20 minutes and Coach [Kerry] Coombs for about 10."
Fickell is the co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for the Buckeyes. He is also the coach Hilliard has known the longest at Ohio State.
"He is definitely a business guy, but for the most part we have a very good relationship," Hilliard said. "He is the one who offered me last year. We talked a good amount today about the defense, and talk at least once every week or once every two weeks."
Ohio State was one of 15 schools that made the cut when Hilliard trimmed his list of 40-plus scholarship offers last month, and they continue to solidify their position as a top contender for his signature.
"I am kind of starting to get a clear view of the schools I am really looking at," Hilliard said. "I am going to keep narrowing it down, and [Ohio State] is definitely going to be one of those teams that are going to be in it for the long run."
Michigan also looks like a team that will survive Hilliard's next cut. He made a visit to Ann Arbor last weekend.
"I have been up there so many times that I know the coaches really well," he said of Michigan. "I just wanted to go up there and hang out with the players this time. I went out with Blake Countess and some of the linebackers."
No additional trips have been scheduled for this spring, but Hilliard expects to sit down with his father in the next week and plan out their next visits.
"We'll probably go down south and see Alabama, Florida, Florida State or some other schools," Hilliard said. "That could be this spring, but me and my dad will have to plan that."
The 15 schools that are still in the hunt for Hilliard are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ohio State, South Carolina, Texas A&M and USC.