Ohio State secured signatures from 21 prospects during college football's first Early Signing Period, but also missed out on one of its top targets in five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman and saw quarterback commit Emory Jones flip to Florida and safety pledge Jaiden Woodbey sign with Florida State.
Now while most of the country's top-rated prospects have signed on the dotted line, there are several uncommitted prospects who opted to hold off until the traditional National Signing Day. And with that said, their respective pledges would certainly help the Buckeyes address the glaring needs along the offensive and defensive lines.
Who are they? I'll introduce you.
Carman's somewhat surprising commitment to Clemson on Wednesday leaves Ohio State with only one offensive tackle in the class in four-star Max Wray, which is certainly disappointing because starting left tackle Jamarco Jones has exhuasted his eligibility and there's not a whole lot of depth behind him.
In fact, the Buckeyes replaced Jones with Joshua Alabi — a converted defensive tackle — when he briefly went down with an injury against Iowa. That means Carman, who is an early enrollee, could have pushed for playing time as a true freshman.
The staff hoped to take as many three offensive tackles this cycle, but recently told three-star Walker Culver — a Virginia Tech signee — they didn't have room for him. Simply put, they expected Carman to be in the class and hoped to chase one of the following names through Signing Day. Now there's even more pressure to land one, if not two.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pound Maryland native has long been down to Ohio State and Penn State, with the Nittany Lions considered the favorite to land his pledge. He's expected to take an official visit to Columbus next month, and instantly becomes the Buckeyes' top target at the position.
Walker and defensive line coach and area recruiter Larry Johnson have a long-standing relationship and he's been to campus several times, but the talented lineman has voiced concerns in the past about the distance from home.
A 6-foot-6, 272-pound tackle from Tampa, Petit-Frere visited Ohio State over the summer, but Florida has long been considered the favorite in his recruitment thanks to proximity. Defensive coordinator and area recruiter Greg Schiano has strong ties to his high school, though.
If the Buckeyes can get him on campus for an official visit, there's a chance they could make a push in his recruitment.
The same could be said of the 6-foot-4, 312-pound Barnes, who included Ohio State in his Top 7 this summer. The Buckeyes will be hard-pressed to pull him away from Florida, but he has been to Columbus before and told Eleven Warriors he has no reservations about playing far from home or in colder weather.
Again, an official visit will be critical, but the staff has certainly positioned itself well with Barnes over the last year or so.
With Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes having exhausted their eligibility and Sam Hubbard likely off to the National Football League following the Cotton Bowl against USC, defensive end is without a doubt a position of great need for Ohio State. That became even more apparent when five-star Brenton Cox reopened his recruitment earlier this month.
Now, the Buckeyes are left with Nick Bosa, Jonathon Cooper, Chase Young and new signee Alex Williams as the only defensive ends on the Buckeyes' roster.
Much like offensive tackle, Ohio State planned to take at least three defensive ends this cycle. Luckily for the Buckeyes, there are still several talented uncommitted and unsigned prospects out there for the taking.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Smith — who is from Cleveland Heights and is considered the highest-rated Ohioan still on the board — had been trending toward Penn State in recent months. His recruitment shifted dramatically following an official visit to State College last week, and now Ohio State finds itself as the favorite as we head toward a Jan. 4 announcement.
It appears the lack of depth at the defensive end position and the opportunity to play for a coach of the aforementioned Johnson's stature helped the Buckeyes jump into the lead late in the process.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Oweh is also set to announce his college decision between Ohio State and Penn State during the Under Armour All-America Game next month. And while things have been trending toward the Nittany Lions, sources close to the program told Eleven Warriors the Buckeyes feel as confident as ever about their chance following an in-home visit from Meyer, Johnson and Schiano last week.
All that said, I'll have more on Oweh in tonight's edition of The Hurry Up.
Though he's long been considered a Michigan lean, the 6-foot-3, 263-pound Friday has recently emerged as a legitimate option for Ohio State late in the process. The Buckeyes made a strong impression during his official visit in November, and their lack of depth at the defensive end position is intriguing.
Schiano was in New Jersey earlier this month meet with Friday and his coach, Mike Teel, who played for the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator at Rutgers. That connection could surely pay dividends, but Oweh and Smith remain a higher priority at this time.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Missouri native isn't someone who's garnered much attention in recent months, but landed an offer from Ohio State in February and has been to campus since. He has a strong relationship with Johnson, and though most have him pegged to Nebraska, he would jump at the opportunity to become a Buckeye.
The linebacker position isn't one of great need, especially after Ohio State just landed signatures from four-stars Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell and K'Vaughan Pope. However, there are two prospects who could find themselves in the class late — though undoubtedly under different circumstances.
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Tuliaupupu is one of the nation's premier linebackers and simply too good of a prospect to not chase through Signing Day.
A California native, most recruiting analysts believe he'll end up at USC. However, he's set to take an official visit to Columbus next month, and the Buckeyes will likely have the last chance to impress before a decision.
Tuliaupupu and his family were blown away by their only visit for the Spring Game in April, but distance may prove to be too difficult to overcome.
If there's room left when Feb. 7 rolls around, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Oats will likely be a member of Ohio State's recruiting class. He's an in-state prospect from Cincinnati Winton Woods who grew up rooting for the Buckeyes and held off on making a decision for that very reason.
Most schools view him as a linebacker, but there's a chance he could develop into a rush end if he adds more muscle to his long frame — and that would cover another need for Ohio State.
Of course, more names will emerge and new offers will go out in the coming weeks as we head toward the traditional National Signing Day on Feb. 7 — especially if the Buckeyes opt to chase another safety, though it's unlikely given they signed four-star Josh Proctor and three-star Marcus Hooker and four-star Tyreke Johnson brings versatility to play anywhere in the defensive backfield.
Stay tuned to our scholarship offer page for those names, as well as a list of prospects who currently hold offers but did not sign or remain uncommitted.