Counter Intel is the smart Ohio State fan's look at recruiting action taking place within the Big Ten and top national programs.
A wild month of June is nearly in the books and we're now in the midst of yet another dead period. It was a month that saw Ohio State add a pair of four-star 2022 commitments in wide receiver Kaleb Brown and Tennessee running back Dallan Hayden. And now it's just a waiting game to see when some of the other official visitors may decide to join the nation's top-ranked recruiting class.
But the biggest wait isn't even related to the 2022 class. Instead, Buckeye fans are on pins and needles waiting for an announcement from five-star 2021 defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau. Rated as the country's top prospect according to 247 Sports, the Washington native canceled his trip to Tuscaloosa and a decision could come at any moment. Most believe Ohio State or Oregon will be getting some good news.
Elsewhere across the country, there's been a seemingly endless amount of action.
Pair of Buckeye Targets Off the Board
Clemson and Wisconsin both got some good news this week with the additions of a few familiar names. It was just 48 hours ago when the Tigers landed four-star IMG Academy edge rusher Jihaad Campbell. An athletic outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid type, Al Washington had been recruiting him, and the Buckeyes did get an official visit back on June 11. Campbell became commitment No. 8 for Dabo Swinney's 20th-ranked recruiting class.
Three-star defensive tackle Curtis Neal was a different kind of Buckeye target. The North Carolina native suffered a knee injury and isn't expected to play as a senior in 2021, but he's still a guy that Ohio State was keeping warm. Neal also made his official visit on June 11, and I think most felt that Madison would be the ultimate landing spot. He's now the top-rated pledge in a Wisconsin class that ranks No. 12 in the conference and No. 43 nationally. Nice pickup for Paul Chryst and Co.
Harbaugh Adds Quarterback, Multiple Three-Stars
After losing a top quarterback target to Utah, Michigan rebounded and added a guy who actually has four stars next to his name. California's Jayden Denegal was high on both the Spartans and Wolverines before he announced his commitment last week. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he the country's No. 265 overall prospect. After landing five-star J.J. McCarthy in the 2021 class, this is another solid addition to the quarterback room.
Harbaugh also added a pair of three-stars in California linebacker Kevonte Henry and Connecticut offensive tackle Alessandro Lorenzetti. Henry holds offers from Pac 12 programs like Arizona and Colorado State. Lorenzetti is originally from Quebec and was also considering the Spartans and Nittany Lions.
Norvell & the Noles Heating Up
It's kind of sad how far Florida State has fallen from grace. The short-lived Willie Taggart era was a total disaster and Mike Norvell is coming off a 3-6 first season in Tallahassee. It seems like the Seminoles always have one of the country's worst offensive lines. Remember how good of a back Cam Akers was in high school and is going to be in the NFL? I almost felt bad watching him try to run behind those horrendous FSU lines.
Norvell had a busy week and got plenty of good news in the trenches. The Noles added five new commitments this week; three of those coming along the offensive line and the other pair being defensive linemen. The new additions include four-star Alabama guard Antavious Woody, four-star Georgia tackle Qae'Shon Sapp, and another Peach State native in guard Kanaya Charlton. On the other side of the ball, the Noles picked up a big pledge from four-star Mississippi lineman Trevion Williams and three-star Orlando tackle Bishop Thomas.
Mike Norvell's class is coming together nicely with 14 commitments. It's at the top of the ACC and is now sitting at No. 3 in the nation.
Irish Land Local Lineman, First 2023 Commit
Ohio State is battling Notre Dame for a pair of 2022 linemen in Dayton-area tackle Aamil Wagner and Wisconsin tight end Billy Schrauth. The Buckeyes have just one commitment at the position in Tegra Tshabola while the Irish are now up to three. The latest pledge came on Saturday from three-star Ashton Craig from Lawrenceburg, Indiana. It's been reported that Notre Dame is looking at Craig as a center prospect.
Looking ahead to 2023, there are several battles brewing between the Buckeyes and Marcus Freeman. On the defensive side of the ball, players like Brenan Vernon, Sonny Styles, and A.J. Harris are among the names to know, and each of the three recruitments could end up being Buckeye vs. Irish battles. Brian Kelly is now on the board for 2023 with a commitment from four-star Florida defender Keon Keeley. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound lineman hails from the same Tampa Berekely Prep program that produced Nicholas Petit-Frere.
Three-Star Safety Releases Top Five, Decision Coming
Ohio State's top safety targets are still uncommitted. Kerry Coombs is battling Notre Dame and Texas A&M for Xavier Nwankpa while USC is the top competition for Zion Branch. Meanwhile, three-star Buford, Georiga native Jake Pope is another prospect the Buckeyes have shown some interest in. The three-star announced his top five just yesterday and indicated that a decision is coming soon.
Pope made an official visit to Columbus this month, but with Nwankpa and Branch still out there, it's tough to imagine him ending up in the Buckeyes' class. At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, he's a solid prospect and seems likely to end up at Notre Dame or North Carolina.
Hoosiers Add Olentangy Tackle
Olentangy Liberty tackle Carter Smith is a name that's been on the Ohio State radar. The 6-foot-6, 275-pound Powell product put together a nice performance at a June one-day camp and was invited to return to campus for an official visit. A solid senior showing and a return trip were the perfect recipe for a Buckeye offer. But Smith didn't feel like waiting around that long.
Smith announced his commitment to Indiana last week as Tom Allen continues to add some nice pieces. The Hoosiers now have seven commitments – including a pair of four-stars – and are sitting at No. 10 in the conference. Meanwhile, Ohio State's offensive line focus remains on players like Kam Dewberry, Earnest Greene, Addison Nichols, and Aamil Wagner. The Buckeyes are expected to sign right around four linemen in the class.
Hafley's Hot Streak Has Eagles in Top 10
Our old friend Jeff Hafley is also doing some big things on the trail. Boston College added five new commitments over the last week and is now all the way up to No. 8 in the team rankings and second in the ACC behind only Florida State. The Eagles have a whopping 19 commitments, including a pair of four-stars.
The biggest recent addition came in the form of top-500 tight end prospect R.J. Maryland. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, he holds offers from Miami, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Maryland suits up for the powerhouse Southlake Carrol program down in Texas, and I hear he's got a pretty decent quarterback throwing the ball in his direction. Hafley went 6-5 in his first season and put up a fight against both Clemson and North Carolina. Boston College will kick things off on Sept. 4 against Colgate.