Mark Pantoni and Ohio State's coaches have been diving into the film of 2022 recruits over the last couple of months, which has led to initial discussions and relationship building with those recruits, their coaches and those in their inner circles.
For five players in the sophomore class, that led to offers from the Buckeyes as their Ohio State recruitments officially began this week. In chronological order, the following players were offered over a three-day span between Tuesday and Thursday:
A hell of a successful month in April for four-star prospect Jaydon Blue, the No. 7-ranked running back in the nation and No. 80-ranked overall player, was followed up by a two-day run this week that’s just as noteworthy.
After he was offered by Oregon, Oklahoma, Penn State and Baylor last month, Blue was offered by LSU and Ohio State (Tuesday) and Georgia (Wednesday) this week, and the 5-foot-9, 190-pounder’s offer sheet now stands at 20 programs (also including Alabama, Texas and USC).
Blue is a young star at Klein Cain High School in Houston who has clocked official times of 4.68 seconds in the 40 and 4.31 seconds in the shuttle, in addition to 10.97 seconds in the 100 meters as a freshman.
In 10 games last season, Blue led Klein Cain with 1,612 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns on the ground on 205 carries for 7.9 yards per carry. He also added 108 yards rushing on 15 receptions.
Hailed as one of the state of Texas’ top running backs, Blue is ranked No. 11 in the state’s 2022 class, and 247Sports analyst Gabe Brooks analyzed that Blue has “adequate size with an above average build. Flashes great initial burst and acceleration. Hits the hole hard and gets downhill in a hurry.”
Brooks also wrote that Blue “produced strong numbers as a sophomore against Texas 6A competition. More slasher than juker but shows above average foot quickness in the hole. Agile enough to make defenders miss at the second level.”
Bryan Allen Jr.
The Buckeyes are also hoping to do some damage to the Bayou Bengals by zeroing in on LSU commits and trying to pry them away from the reigning national champions.
Kerry Coombs and Matt Barnes have not been shy about making a concerted effort to recruit current Tiger commits, as they offered Texas safety Bryce Anderson, who was the first commit in LSU’s 2022 class, in late April.
Anderson told Eleven Warriors that “I'm 100 percent open in my recruitment, and I'm interested in Ohio State” and that his plan is to go “to a school that's putting DBs in the league and (putting a lot in the) first round, and I'm going to whichever fits me.”
On Wednesday, fellow Texas star and LSU safety commit Bryan Allen Jr. announced that he has also been offered by the Buckeyes, who have now offered two of LSU’s four commits in its 2022 class after they had already committed to the Tigers.
“The conversation with me and Coach Barnes and Coombs went very good,” Allen told Eleven Warriors. “The best part of the conversation was that they have 23 student players that graduated and all have their degrees. Before then, a month ago, I was talking to Coach Barnes, starting to build that relationship up.”
Barnes has done a phenomenal job of recruiting under the radar, so his relationship with Allen could wind up being a determining factor in Allen’s continued interest in the program.
Allen is a 6-foot, 185-pound four-star safety ranked No. 2 at the position, No. 52 overall and No. 5 in the state of Texas in the 2022 class out of Aledo High School.
Like fellow Texan star Blue, Allen has been scouted by Brooks, who wrote that Allen “owns the requisite build and frame for a Power 5 safety prospect. Lean and athletic with space to eclipse 200-pound plateau. Strong production as a sophomore for perennial Texas power and 5A D-II state championship team. Shows impressive anticipatory traits. Diagnoses quickly vs. run or pass. Closes fast downhill and is willing participant vs. the run. Flashes impressive pursuit ability to the perimeter. Solid tackler who takes good angles. Arrives with purpose and provides the occasional big hit. Displays promising recovery speed. Natural center fielder in coverage.”
It’s early in his career, but Allen is likely to play safety at the next level. Allen has flashed some good corner skills, though, on the camp circuit, showing physicality and aggressiveness at the line, in addition to good instincts on when to turn his head and stick his nose in to break up passes.
Allen, who committed to LSU on April 9, has nearly 20 offers, including from Baylor, Florida, Penn State, Oklahoma, Texas and USC.
The runaway favorite to take home “Best Name in the 2022 Class” award was offered by Ohio State on Thursday, as Bishop Alemany (Calif.) High School four-star safety Ephesians Prysock gave us some late-night news in the Eastern time zone with a midnight offer announcement.
“It’s very impactful, and I’m grateful to be receiving an offer from such a respected school,” Prysock told Eleven Warriors. “It’s nice to see my hard work paying off. I’m thankful for the opportunities I’m getting.”
Prysock is a 6-foot-3, 170-pound defensive back ranked No. 195 overall, No. 17 in the state of California and No. 13 at safety, but Prysock told us that Ohio State “sees me as a cornerback. They like the fact that I’m tall with speed and quick feet.”
Prysock’s offer sheet is relatively thin, but it’s a list that features quality over quantity. In addition to Ohio State, the other six programs that have offered the young star thus far are Florida, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC and Oregon (which offered him shortly after Ohio State offered him).
For Prysock, the relationship-building process with the Buckeye coaches has not been going on very long, but he’s excited to get it fired up.
“At first, my coach let me know that I should give them a call. I didn’t really communicate with them until (Wednesday), when they offered me,” Prysock said. “I was very excited to talk to the coaches. They were really welcoming, and we were able to talk about a lot of different things.
“We got to talk about different topics. After speaking with them, I know a little more about the school and the coaching staff. I always had a good opinion about Ohio State and being able to talk to the coaching staff made it even better. … They didn’t really compare me to past (Ohio State) cornerbacks.”
Linebacker is going to be one of Ohio State’s highest-priority positional targets in the 2022 class, and we have already seen Al Washington and the Buckeyes be aggressive on that front with offers to Justin Medlock and Dasan McCullough, who’s listed as an athlete but is being recruited by Ohio State as a Sam linebacker.
That aggressiveness continued this week, as Washington and Co. dished out an offer to Jalon Walker on Wednesday afternoon, becoming the 15th program to offer the 6-foot-1, 205-pound sophomore out of Salisbury (N.C.) High School.
Walker, a four-star prospect ranked No. 176 overall, No. 15 at outside linebacker and No. 7 in North Carolina, also holds offers from Auburn, North Carolina and Texas A&M, as the bluebloods and powerhouse programs have not yet made a move on him.
Saving the best for last – or, at least, the highest-ranked for last – Enai White is going to be one of the most sought-after and coveted players in the 2022 class throughout the entirety of his recruitment, and the Buckeyes are hoping to make White the third player out of Philadelphia to join the program, following in the footsteps of 2021 quarterback Kyle McCord and receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
White stands at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds as the No. 8-ranked overall player in the country. He is ranked No. 1 at both weakside defensive end and in the state of Pennsylvania, and he has an offer sheet that rivals any recruit in the nation, regardless of class.
Despite not having played a snap as a junior and not having gotten to any camp circuits because of the COVID-19 shutdown, White already has nearly 40 offers to his name. That includes Alabama, Baylor, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State and Tennessee.
White has been well-known in recruiting circles for a long time, dating back to his freshman season when he played at The Pennington School in New Jersey.
Before he played a snap there, 247Sports analyst Brian Dohn compared White to Jason Pierre-Paul, saying that White has a “long, wiry frame (that) needs to fill out. Can easily add 20 pounds. Strong basketball player. Outside linebacker potential in 3-4 scheme. Athletic and uses length. Gets off quickly at snap. Runs well and chases backside. Can disengage and find ball carrier. Plays controlled and understands assignments. Ability to drop into coverage. Has to develop ability to play in three-point stance. Needs to work on exploding off change of direction. Strength at point of attack must improve. Multi-year starter at top 20 program. Early-round NFL Draft potential.”