June has been pretty rough to Ohio State so far, as three consecutive decisions did not go the Buckeyes’ way for priority targets in the 2021 class:
- Four-star receiver Troy Stellato committed to Clemson over Ohio State on June 5.
- Five-star offensive tackle JC Latham committed to Alabama over Ohio State and LSU on June 12.
- Four-star tight end Hudson Wolfe committed to Tennessee over Ohio State and Alabama on June 15.
(As said in Friday's Hurry-Up, the commitment of cornerback Jaylin Davies to Oregon does not qualify as a recruiting loss.)
Stellato had been trending toward the Tigers since he was able to visit Clemson just before the shutdown and was unable to get back to Ohio State as he had planned. Latham and Wolfe, however, were considered Buckeye leans right up until the calendar flipped to June, and now they will play their college ball elsewhere.
The Buckeyes will still recruit Latham and Wolfe. But in the best-case scenario, they would be described as “well behind” in those recruitments.
Losing Stellato and Wolfe are not crushing, especially with Stellato because of who's still left on the board, but losing Latham really hurt, despite the Buckeyes being very deep at offensive tackle over the next few years. That's because any time you’re leading considerably for a five-star, potential top-10 overall talent and potential first-round NFL draft pick, it’s going to hurt even if you’re deep at the position – and especially when throwing in Latham's Midwest connections and the family he has in Ohio.
All is far from lost for the Buckeyes, however, and even though that Greatest of All-Time Class is probably gone – Colin Hass-Hill detailed everything that would need to go right in order for them to still surpass Urban Meyer’s 2010 class at Florida – the No. 1 class is still there for the taking. And the Buckeyes could stop recruiting right now and probably end up with a top-three class or, at worst, a top-five class.
But there are still some big fish out there, and today we wanted to quickly reset, in order, who the Buckeyes’ top five remaining targets are in the 2021 class:
- J.T. Tuimoloau
- Tywone Malone – When looking at Ohio State’s lack of future depth along the defensive line, specifically defensive tackle and nose tackle, there could be an argument made for pushing Malone into the No. 1 spot here if not for the otherworldly talent of Tuimoloau. When you’re leading for arguably the No. 1 player in America, regardless of position, he is going to be the top remaining target. As an added bonus, Tuimoloau was listed as a defensive tackle in his recruiting profile for a long time, so he has the versatility to kick inside if needed.
- Emeka Egbuka
- Jager Burton – Bringing in six offensive linemen to the 2020 class helps Ohio State’s depth at offensive line, but only bringing in two blue-chippers (Donovan Jackson, Ben Christman) would be a major disappointment in this class after missing on Latham. Burton appears to be trending away, so it will be imperative for Ohio State to get Burton back on campus. As of Sunday, there is some optimism floating around regarding Burton, as the nation's No. 7-ranked offensive guard announced he is pushing back his planned commitment date of Aug. 24, saying in a tweet, “I want to weigh all my options and take all five of my official visits to make the best possible decision for me and my family.” If he sticks with that plan, it only figures to help Ohio State as it has some more time to get him back to campus for his first visit since November.
- Derrick Davis Jr. – Really, both Egbuka and Davis are more of luxuries than they are needs because of the depth the Buckeyes have at receiver and defensive back. But these two are probably the best players at their respective positions (receiver, safety) in the 2021 class, with Egbuka a five-star talent and Davis a possible five-star down the road. Egbuka is an immediate offense-changing weapon who could compete for starting playing time from day one, and Davis has multi-year starter and all-conference potential.
Linebacker: Raesjon Davis (LSU commit)
These players are under essentially an “honorable mention” category because, while they would each be fantastic additions to the class, it may be a little too late to regain traction with them this late in the process – they still have a shot with those players, but there is a long way to go in each of their recruitments at this stage – or they are players we have heard the Buckeyes are not very high on.
Dellinger will be coming off the board soon, likely to LSU, while Spindler announced two weeks ago that, like fellow offensive guard Burton, he is planning on delaying a commitment until after he is able to take his five official visits – one of which will almost certainly be a visit to Ohio State in addition to Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and LSU. Leigh and Rucci appear to be long shots at this point in the process and Josey is likely to go elsewhere, while Benny appears to be one of the likeliest options behind Burton.
Just wanted to let everyone know that I will NOT be committing Anytime soon. Not until I take all 5 officials. Which will be... Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn state, LSU.— Rocco Spindler (@RoccoSpindler92) June 11, 2020
(No interviews thank you) pic.twitter.com/plvJF4q5WX
Robinson is another whom Ohio State will continue going after, though when Eleven Warriors recently reached out to the Maryland star and versatile defensive end/outside linebacker, he was pretty straightforward that nothing is going to change in his commitment to the Terps.
There seems to be a bit of mystery centered on Payne and how hard the Buckeyes are pushing for him, but he remains a possibility. Grimes looks to be trending toward either Georgia or North Carolina.
As for Davis and Hancock, it's not looking great as a pull from their respective commitments to southern programs looks very difficult, though Davis recently told Eleven Warriors that he plans on taking official visits to Ohio State and Oregon with his parents once things open back up.