Recruiting is all about comfort and relationships. Sometimes you're gaining momentum on the trail, sometimes you're losing it. How are some of Ohio State's key prospects trending? Let's take a look.
Ryan Day's 2021 recruiting class is nearly complete. Ohio State is sitting at No. 2 in the country and locked in a battle with Alabama for the top spot. With 20 commitments in the fold, the Buckeyes are looking to add another two or three before February's National Signing Day.
Names like Emeka Egbuka, J.T. Tuimoloau, and Pennsylvania safety Derrick Davis Jr. remain at the top of the board as Day and Co. look for a strong finish amid some strange and unprecedented times. I'm not in the business of giving you a gigantic block of text to list out all 20 names, but the star-studded group is easy to locate (HERE).
Moving onto the Class of 2022, the internet has been abuzz about some major news that could be on the horizon. Six commitments are already in the fold for a class that ranks No. 3 nationally behind only LSU and Penn State (both of whom have seven commits). With the current class almost at capacity and some big news on the way, what better time to unveil the very first board for the Class of 2022?
Our annual reminder on the process:
- This isn't based on any one particular factor. We consider it a combination of positional needs, reciprocated interest, player caliber, and how hard the staff may be pushing. It's absolutely not an exact science.
- It's only November, and this is going to change a lot over the coming months. Prospects are going to commit to various schools and we've seen before how a single pledge can impact numerous programs across the country.
- Keep in mind that as we go deeper into the season, we'll get a much better feel of the personnel – including players who could be leaving the program for one reason or another – and what to expect beyond just 2020; certainly another variable to consider when looking at recruiting needs.
- Again, it's the very first edition, and we only include 11 spots. Some familiar names we've frequently discussed may not be making an appearance now, but as signing day draws near, it gets a bit easier to narrow things down.
Without further ado, the very first 11W board for the Class of 2022:
|PROSPECT||POSITION||RANK||RATING||HOMETOWN||OTHERS IN THE MIX|
|KIYAUNTA GOODWIN||OT||1||★★★★||Charlestown, Ind.||Bama•Georgia•Auburn•LSU|
|QUINN EWERS||QB||2||★★★★★||Southlake, Texas||Texas•Oklahoma•Bama•Clemson|
|DOMANI JACKSON||CB||3||★★★★★||Santa Ana, Calif.||Michigan•USC•Clemson•Texas|
|CADEN CURRY||DL||4||★★★★||Greenwood, Ind.||Clemson•Bama•Oregon•Florida|
|CALEB BURTON||WR||5||★★★★★||Del Valle, Texas||Oklahoma•Texas•LSU•Clemson|
|ZACH RICE||OT||6||★★★★★||Lynchburg, Va.||Notre Dame•Florida•PSU•LSU|
|GUNNER GIVENS||OT||7||★★★★★||Daleville, Va.||Clemson•LSU•Georgia•PSU•VT|
|ENAI WHITE||DE||8||★★★★★||Philadelphia, Pa.||PSU•Alabama•LSU•Tennessee|
|XAVIER NWANKPA||SAF||9||★★★★||Altoona, Iowa||LSU•Iowa•Clemson•ND•Florida|
|WILL JOHNSON||CB||10||★★★★★||Grosse Pointe, Mich.||Michigan•Penn State•USC•LSU|
|DAMARI ALSTON||RB||11||★★★★||Atlanta, Ga.||Florida•Georgia Tech•UNC|
I think it was nearly two months ago when I made a proclamation on the recruiting forum. I alerted the masses that Kiyaunta Goodwin was destined to debut at No. 1 on our board. The Buckeyes missing out on J.C. Latham means that Greg Studrawa is going to need to rebound in a big way in the next cycle. Much like Paris Johnson Jr., the 6-foot-7, 300-pound Goodwin appears to have been assembled in a left tackle laboratory.
I listed several SEC programs among the others who are in hot pursuit, but the reality is that Goodwin is listening to several schools and doesn't seem close to making a decision. One thing he has made clear? The four-star loves Ohio State and grew up idolizing Orlando Pace. He's also shed about 125 pounds and completely transformed his body. I've been critical of Studrawa's recruiting at times while also acknowledging the team's superb offensive line play. This is one the staff cannot let slip away.
Just about a week ago, I actually started going back and forth on the No. 1 spot. An athletic left tackle is a major need, but how does that stack up against the country's No. 1 prospect who plays the most important position on the field? I decided to slot Quinn Ewers at No. 2 primarily because Ryan Day already has an ultra-talented quarterback room that's going to get even better when Kyle McCord arrives in January.
Fresh off his Longhorn decommit, last week's news may have helped seal Tom Herman's fate in Austin. At 6-foot-3 and 195-pounder, Ewers is being labeled as the best QB prospect since Trevor Lawrence and has long been Day's top priority in the class. The Ohio State staff – and especially Corey Dennis – have been all over this one and could be in line for some good news in the very near future. Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Clemson are also in the mix; though the Tigers have yet to offer.
The nation's top cornerback resides in Santa Ana, California and is a part of the powerhouse Mater Dei program. It's going to be interesting to follow the recruitment of Domani Jackson as he's got some split allegiances within his own family. His parents are from Ohio with mom being a Buckeye fan and dad a fan of the Wolverines. He's gotten close with a few of the Ohio State commits, but this should be a real battle that includes Michigan, USC, Clemson, and several others across the country. Jackson is No. 3 on our board, and the Buckeyes are the current crystal ball leader.
How about a talented four-star defensive lineman that plays just about three hours to the west of Columbus? The No. 1 player in the state of Indiana, Caden Curry is listed as both a defensive end and defensive tackle depending on the service. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds as a junior, he seems destined to line up on the interior. Several national powers are involved, but the Buckeyes are viewed as the favorite for one of the Midwest's top prospects.
Brian Hartline may be the best recruiter in the country regardless of position. As he continues to work on the Egbuka pursuit, the nation's best 2022 receiver is also extremely high on the Buckeyes. A slew of Ohio State crystal ball picks have come in for five-star Caleb Burton. And wouldn't you know it, the Texan has a strong desire to team up with Quinn Ewers at the next level. Hmmmm.
It's no secret that Hartline has a loaded room, and we've already seen newcomers like Jaxon Smith-Njigba making an early splash. The Buckeyes are likely to only take two or three wideouts in 2022, and Burton has been at the top of the board for some time now. Oklahoma, Texas, and Clemson are also in the mix here.
Again, the class is in need of tackles, and that's precisely why we've got two more great ones back to back at No. 6 and No. 7. Can Ohio State strike gold in Virginia once again in 2022? The five-star pair of Zach Rice and Gunner Givens are going to be priority targets for programs all across the nation.
I get the feeling the Buckeyes are in a slightly better spot for Rice at the moment even though he's had some issues getting a certain staff member to pick up his phone. Givens seems fairly open right now but has identified Ohio State as one of several programs of interest. He'll be dropping his top six schools later today. There's plenty of work to be done here before there's any real reason for excitement.
Philadelphia pass rusher Enai White checks in at No. 8, and this appears to be another recruitment that's nowhere close to winding down (though a top schools list is coming). The five-star is listed as the country's second-best defensive end and he's considering offers from coast to coast. White has taken note of Larry Johnson's player development and has actually expressed a desire to get away from the area after high school. There's a long way to go, so we'll see how big of a factor the distance may be.
Iowa safety Xavier Nwankpa debuts at No. 9, and he too has been a part of the recent pro-Ohio State social media barrage. The lone crystal ball prediction favors the Buckeyes, and the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is without question one of Matt Barnes' top priorities at safety (alongside New Jersey's Keon Sabb). Nwankpa has a knack for making some big-time hits, as evidenced right here (targeting be damned):
Can Kerry Coombs once again work his magic in the state of Michigan? The state's best player is one of those rare corners who has plus size and the athleticism to stay at the position. Five-star Will Johnson checks in at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, and some seem to believe the Buckeyes are out in front right now. Johnson and Domani Jackson are also fairly close and the two of them seem to have both Ohio State and Michigan toward the top of their lists. They've also been having some fun on the Twitter machine of late.
Tony Alford did a fantastic job for the 2021 class landing TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor early in the cycle. That means running back recruiting isn't going to be quite as big of an "issue" for 2022. I think an argument can be made for Georgia's Damari Alston and Pennsylvania's Nicholas Singleton since they appear to be Alford's top targets. For now, we've got Alston on board at No. 11 even though Singleton is rated a bit higher. Could the Buckeyes take a pair once again? Absolutely.
We do this to ourselves every year. We proclaim that the next Ohio State recruiting class has the potential to be the best ever. I'll let you decide for yourselves in that regard, but it's no secret that Ryan Day has the program in a fantastic spot both on the field and on the trail. Things are showing no sign of slowing down as four-star tight end target Benji Gosnell is set to announce his commitment tonight.
At this point, there's no telling when the 2021 or 2022 recruiting classes will be able to meet with coaching staffs on campuses across the country. We've mentioned it before, but Ohio State has navigated this unexpected dead period better than any other program. For the sake of the kids and their families (and really everyone else in general), let's hope things improve and can return to some sense of normalcy.
Ohio State is in tremendous shape with several of the aforementioned names. If the recent social media buzz is any indication – which I tend to think it is – then Ryan Day appears to be in line for a big November as the Buckeyes advance toward Indy and yet another playoff berth.