2021 Hot Board: Five Key Prospects Ryan Day, Ohio State Are Looking to Land for the Next Great Recruiting Class

By Andrew Ellis on September 11, 2019 at 8:35 am
Ryan Day has the 2021 class off to a roaring start.
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
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Things are coming together quite nicely.

Ryan Day is still over three months away from the early signing period for the 2020 recruiting class. And while we continue to keep a close eye on the running back pursuit as well as the other areas of need, we're also paying close attention to what Ohio State is doing for the Class of 2021. 

Yesterday's commitment from four-star linebacker Reid Carrico wasn't a total surprise even though the state's No. 5 prospect had talked about waiting a bit as he considered Ohio State, Clemson, and his other options. Still, the addition of the Ironton star is another big-time win for Day's next great recruiting class. 

The class is up to five commitments – all of the four- and five-star variety – and checks in at No. 3 in the country. To give you an idea as to just how talented the class is: Carrico is ranked as the nation's 126th-best prospect with a .95 rating—and is the lowest-rated member of the Buckeyes' class.

An argument can be made that Day and his staff now have secured four of the biggest needs for the 2021 class. Jack Sawyer is the best defensive end in the country and could be its top prospect regardless of position. Philadelphia's Kyle McCord will help replenish what will likely be a depleted quarterback room. Ben Christman is one of the top offensive tackles in the country and Carrico is one of the very best defenders. 

We're still a long way away from things being finalized for the 2021 class. The early signing period is over 15 months away and we're about a year and a half from February's traditional signing day. But things are coming together quite nicely for the Ohio State coaching staff.

It's a little too early to put together a full recruiting board, but with several key components already in place, we look at five more names that could help take the 2021 class to new heights.


Emeka Egbuka • Athlete • Steilacoom, WA • ★★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 9

Listed as an athlete, Brian Hartline is running the point for the Emeka Egbuka recruitment and that tells us all we need to know about his future position. The Buckeyes have Washington native Gee Scott Jr. in the fold for 2020 and he too is a five-star in Hartline's eyes.

The Huskies are the early crystal ball favorite as the five-star resides about an hour south of the campus. But Ohio State, Clemson, and Alabama are all heavily involved here. Egbuka visited Columbus as well as several other top programs last spring and came away impressed with Hartline's plans for the passing game. He's 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds and recorded a 4.42 laser-timed forty as a sophomore. 

  • Outlook: An Early Favorite 

Tony Grimes • Cornerback • Virginia Beach, VA •  ★★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 10

Jeff Hafley has a pair of corners in the fold for 2020 in Lejond Cavazos and Clark Phillips. Ohio State is still looking for a third and is trying to flip a number of prospects – including five-star Elias Ricks – that are committed to other programs. Whether or not that happens, the need for corners is still going to be very real for the 2021 class. 

Tony Grimes is the nation's No. 1 player at the position and likely Hafley's top target for the next cycle. On Monday, the Virginia Beach five-star released his top-13 schools which included just about all of America's heavy hitters; including Ohio State. He visited Columbus in June and spent time with fellow Virginia Beach native Teradja Mitchell. It's too soon for any one program to get excited about this one, but Grimes would be a phenomenal pull for Jeff Hafley and Ryan Day.

  • Outlook: Firmly in the Mix

Damon Payne • DT/OG • Belleville, MI • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 39

Ohio State has been paying plenty of attention to the state of Michigan dating back to Kerry Coombs' days in Columbus, and that hasn't really changed since his departure in January of 2018. Grant Toutant and Cameron Martinez are committed for the Class of 2020, and there are a few big ones out there for the next cycle as well. 

Belleville's Damon Payne is a versatile lineman who is extremely high on the Buckeyes. While he's capable of playing defensive tackle or guard, Larry Johnson is spearheading this recruitment at the moment and the best guess is he ends up on the defensive line. Belleville has produced plenty of talent with Julian Barnett and Devontae Dobbs both landing with the Spartans and former Buckeye pledge Dwan Mathis siding with Georgia. 

This recruitment is just getting underway and Payne doesn't seem to be the type of kid to talk about where things stand. Most of the national powers have already offered and we'll see if this ends up being a Buckeye vs. Wolverine battle.

  • Outlook: Up in the Air

Marvin Harrison Jr. • Wide Receiver • Philadelphia • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 54

It was a little tough to include multiple wide receivers on this list considering what Brian Hartline already has committed for the current class, but Marvin Harrison Jr. is worthy of just that. The son of an NFL Hall of Famer, Harrison Jr. is a teammate of Buckeye commit Kyle McCord and is rated as the country's No. 8 wideout. 

The Philadelphia (St. Joseph's) playmaker has already built a tremendous relationship with Brian Hartline and all of the experts have him siding with the Buckeyes over Clemson, Florida, and Penn State. Out of all the top remaining targets for the 2020 class, Harrison Jr. may be the safest bet to end up in Columbus. 

If you're looking for some entertainment this Friday, Harrison and McCord's St. Joseph's Prep squad will be facing off against Lejond Cavazos and IMG Academy. The game is set to air on ESPNU at 7 p.m. 

  • Outlook: Lookin' Great

Donovan Edwards • Running Back • West Bloomfield, MI • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 61

Ohio State and Tony Alford's need for running backs has been well-documented. Many of the staff's top 2020 targets are committed elsewhere and now the board has been reset with the season getting underway. Since several of the top guys are likely to end up elsewhere, it could become even more important that the staff gets their guy for the 2021 class. 

Switching back to our neighbors to the north, four-star tailback Donovan Edwards is the state's No. 3 prospect for the Class of 2021 and he too plays for one of Michigan's top football factories. Edwards suffered a broken leg last October, putting an end to his sophomore season. Now rated as the country's fourth-best tailback, he's got plenty of time to make his plans for the next phase of his career.

Tony Alford and the Buckeyes are targeting a number of 2021 backs already, but Edwards being a Midwest prospect may make him the one to watch most closely. The Wolverines are viewed as the favorite right now and a pair of his teammates (and best friends) are a part of Michigan's 2020 class. The Spartans are also in the mix and Edwards has expressed interest in checking out some SEC programs in the coming months.

  • Outlook: Likely a Big Ten Battle
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