As the early signing period approaches and the doors begin closing with the 2020 class, it's time to take a look at some local players in the 2022 class. Ohio State has currently offered two in-state sophomores and is in contact with many others.
For the sake of organization, this early outlook on the 2022 class will have four categories: offered, top priority, sooner rather than later and keep an eye on.
Tegra Tshabola, 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, offensive tackle
Ohio State's first offer from the Buckeye State went to Tshabola, who started this past season at right tackle for Lakota West High School. He is a player that has the length and build to be a quality starting tackle at the collegiate level. Ohio State was the first team to offer Tshabola, giving the Buckeyes an early lead in his recruitment, especially after he visited for their win over Penn State in November.
Gabe Powers, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, outside linebacker
Powers is another sophomore who has tremendous length and athleticism at a very young age. Powers is also a local kid who hails from Marysville, just over 30 minutes from Ohio State. He also has a few offers from other Power-Five schools including Tennessee, Colorado, and Florida State.
At 6-foot-4, Powers has very good size at linebacker and has had conversations with Ohio State about potentially even playing defensive end. Powers received an early offer from Ohio State because of how hard it can be to find an athlete with his size. Linebackers coach Al Washington went to watch Powers live this past season and Powers has also visited Ohio State multiple times, so the Buckeyes are in a very good spot here.
CJ Hicks, 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, athlete
The fact that Hicks has not been offered is one of the biggest surprises so far when it comes to the 2022 class. When 247Sports released its initial rankings for the 2022 class, Hicks was the only ranked Ohioian in the top 100. While he is listed as an athlete, he plays all over the defense for Archbishop Alter High School. Through two high school seasons, Hicks has played cornerback, safety, and outside linebacker.
Hicks has very good coverage skills and is a willing tackler with elite size and speed. He needs more experience playing in the box and playing the run, but that will come. Hicks looks like the perfect player for the bullet position in Ohio State's defense, and a player that Ohio State should offer any day now.
Hicks has been to Columbus three times this fall and camped with the Buckeyes in June. Even though he doesn't yet have an offer, Ohio State remains in a very good spot with Ohio's top-rated sophomore.
Kaden Saunders, 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, athlete
Kaden Saunders is another local product who should receive an offer from Ohio State at some point soon. The Westerville native is also listed as an athlete but unlike Hicks, he prefers to play on the offensive side of the ball. Saunders was an offensive weapon all year long for Westerville South where he played wide receiver, slot back and even returned kicks. He also caught some time on defense at cornerback.
Saunders is an electric athlete that has the speed and quickness to take the ball to the house all the time. The key for Saunders over the next few years will be adding size. Nonetheless, Ohio State is keeping a close eye on Saunders, although right now the Buckeyes seem to be playing second fiddle to Penn State. Saunders has been to Happy Valley multiple times and has been sold on being their next KJ Hamler, but there is a long way to go in his recruitment.
Trey Bixby, 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, defensive end
Ohio State recruits top-notch defensive ends year in and year out, and they won't have to go far to do that in the 2022 class. St. Edward's Trey Bixby is already 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds as a high school sophomore, and he also has good hand usage and elite athleticism for such a young player. Bixby is a player that will only continue to get better as he grows and matures.
One question about Bixby will be how he fills out his large frame, which could eventually make him a defensive tackle instead of a defensive end. No matter where Bixby plays along the defensive line, he is a player who could see an Ohio State offer come his way. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day stopped by St. Edward during Ohio State's second bye week this season.
Sooner Rather Than Later
Chase Harrison, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, quarterback
Chase Harrison is one of the few 2022 prospects that many Buckeye fans may already know, and that’s because Ohio State is out in front with its quarterback recruiting. In his first full season as a varsity starter at Centerville High School, he threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns, and he's still just scratching the surface of his potential. With more development and maturity, it is entirely possible Harrison could be a quarterback Ohio State offers for the class of 2022.
Stephan Byrd, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, running back
Byrd, who plays for Canal Winchester, is a player that caught the eye of Ohio State this summer when he performed well in front of running backs coach Tony Alford at a camp. He is another player that had a super sophomore season, totaling roughly 1,700 all-purpose yards. Byrd is an upright, powerful runner that uses long strides to separate from opponents. Ohio State is going to take a running back in every class and if Byrd continues to improve, he just might receive a Buckeye offer.
Delian Bradley, 6-foot, 175 pounds, safety
After seeing Bradley play twice this season with Springfield, it became pretty clear that he is a 2022 player to know. Even at a young age, Bradley has all the tools to be a very good free safety at the college level. He is a player that is always around the ball, whether it is making tackles or getting his hands on the ball. It is going to be key for Bradley to continue to add strength, and if he does, he has a good chance at getting an offer from the Buckeyes.
Keep An Eye On
Ryan Miller, 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, tight end
Ryan Miller's film makes him look like a wide receiver, but he is also a very willing blocker. While Ohio State is still working to optimize its tight end usage, Miller is a player that would fit in great at Ohio State. The Kenston sophomore's blocking ability coupled with his pass-catching prowess makes him a player that Ohio State should keep tabs on.
Gi'Bran Payne, 6-foot, 190 pounds, athlete
Any Ohioans that caught the Division II state championship game between Massillon Washington and La Salle last week has already gotten an introduction to Payne. Against Massillon last Thursday, Payne had 129 rushing yards and five total tackles, making plays on both sides of the ball. The main question about Payne is whether he will be a running back or linebacker in college. Nonetheless, Payne is a player that the Buckeyes will keep an eye on at powerhouse La Salle High School.
Alex Afari, 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, cornerback
Afari may be the least well-known player in this article, seeing as he just picked up his first offer this past week from the University of Pittsburgh. Regardless, Afari is a physical freak on the football field who has good mobility for his size and especially his age. Based on his film and measurables alone, he is another player from Lakota West that Ohio State will be in contact with.