While the Class of 2020 still has a few key pieces to add between now and next February, Ohio State's next crop of talent is already looking exceptional. Ryan Day has secured four commitments for the 2021 class and they're all of the four- and five-star variety.
Pennsylvania quarterback Kyle McCord is the only non-Ohioan in what is currently the country's No. 4 class; a class that has fewer pledges than each team ranked in the top-three. Outside of McCord, Day has already landed Ohio's three top-rated prospects in Jack Sawyer, Ben Christman, and Jayden Ballard.
The Ohio State staff is looking to make a clean sweep of the state's top talent, but securing pledges from its No. 4 and No. 5 prospects may prove to be a bit of a battle.
When Ohio State extended an offer to legacy target Lorenzo Styles Jr., some may have been quick to assume that it'd only be a matter of time for him to be a part of the class. After all, his father is a Pennsylvania native who relocated to Columbus and suited up for the Buckeyes before being selected by the Falcons in the third round of the 1995 NFL Draft.
The folks in South Bend are making this one interesting for the Pickerington Central star, and the Buckeyes appear to be locked in a real battle for the state's fourth-best prospect. Styles is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound speedster who has been clocked in the 4.4 range. Though he's listed as a wideout, his ultimate position seems a bit up in the air, and that may be where things get interesting.
Brian Hartline has the country's best wide receiver class already for 2020 and Massillon's Jayden Ballard is a heck of a start for 2021. The Buckeyes are the heavy favorite for Philadelphia's Marvin Harrison Jr. and touted West Coast products Emeka Egbuka and Beaux Collins also have Ohio State high on their lists.
Day and his staff are going to have to figure out how the country's No. 102 overall prospect best fits into their plans. Styles also excels at cornerback and there's more than a handful of people who think his highest upside may be on the defensive side of the ball.
The Fighting Irish have him as a top-of-the-board target and Brian Kelly has made this one very interesting. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of doubt as to where Notre Dame prefers him as they continue to have a big need for playmakers.
One of the biggest factors is likely to be how each staff elects to pursue and how they see him fitting in. A decision could come this fall, and it's far from a slam dunk for the Buckeyes.
Ironton linebacker Reid Carrico has been one of the hottest 2021 prospect dating back to the spring. The Buckeyes offered in April and powerhouse programs like Alabama, Oklahoma, and Clemson all followed suit. Ohio State has been viewed as the favorite ever since the offer was extended, but Dabo Swinney is making this one interesting.
Carrico has taken a number of visits already as he recently made trips to both Clemson and Tennessee. The Volunteers remain in the mix, but it's the Buckeyes and Tigers at the top. A decision was expected before the start of his junior season, but it seems as though Clemson may have prevented that from happening.
Clemson has been recruiting better than anyone in America of late. Dabo has an absurd six five-stars committed for the 2020 class and they're likely to add one ore two more before all is said and done. Five-star tackle Fairfield tackle Jackson Carman signed with the Tigers back in 2018. The Buckeyes got a big win over Clemson when wide receiver Julian Fleming – the country's top player at the position – committed back in May.
Al Washington is the point man in this recruitment and Ohio State remains the overwhelming crystal ball favorite. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, Carrico is being recruited as an inside linebacker. He's looking to get back to Columbus and Clemson this fall, and it wouldn't be a surprise if a decision came during his junior season.
This goes without saying, but we are still a long way away from the Class of 2021 really taking off. Heck, we're four months away from the early signing period for the 2020 class and there's going to be plenty of chaos between now and December.
Still, Notre Dame has been a bit of a thorn in Ohio State's side from time to time, though it's mostly involved offensive linemen and Cincinnati's Greater Catholic League. Clemson can be a legitimate threat to any program in America right now; whether it's Alabama, Ohio State, or any other powerhouse.
The 2021 recruiting rankings aren't even close to being finalized, but the Buckeyes have a great shot at signing all five of the state's best prospects. Three of them are already in the fold, but there's still plenty of work to be done if Ryan Day and his staff want to keep Styles and Carrico at home.