C.J. Hicks and Company Want “Best Recruiting Class Ever,” Shooting for “More Than Just Two or Three Five-Stars” in 2022

By Zack Carpenter on December 3, 2020 at 10:10 am
C.J. Hicks

It was C.J. Hicks' birthday on Tuesday, but the 2022 Ohio State linebacker commit already got some gifts long before this week in the form of commitments from five-stars Quinn Ewers and Caleb Burton.

And Hicks is probably going to get some more commit presents in the near future. The Buckeyes are far from finished, and with the momentum Ewers and Burton have given the 2022 class, don't be surprised if more are on the way in December and January. That's the case if you ask Hicks at least, as he listed off his wish list in an interview with Eleven Warriors last week.

It was a list highlighted by five-star offensive tackle Zach Rice, five-star defensive end Enai White and five-star cornerbacks Domani Jackson and Will Johnson (all five of whom have Ohio State in their trimmed lists), plus three-star receiver Kyion Grayes, who could go down as the most underrated offensive prospect in this cycle.

Even getting just one or two of those players would add to an already massive haul for Hicks and Co., as they would add to a group of three five-stars, plus Hicks and Dasan McCullough who could each wind up as five-stars down the line as well. But they're shooting for the stars here.

“We’re gonna get more than just two or three five-stars when it’s all said and done,” Hicks said. “I'll just say that.”

Since the summer, Hicks has been standing on the proverbial podium telling people that the Buckeyes' 2022 class that he's leading from a player recruiting standpoint would wind up better than a 2021 class that spent much of this cycle atop the recruiting rankings.

“I told everybody,” Hicks said. “Nobody wanted to listen.”

They're certainly listening now. Ohio State has the No. 1-ranked class by a long shot right now and is carrying a ton of momentum into the final month of 2020 and the new year. With just nine commitments, the Buckeyes have 206.70 points, which would would have finished No. 21 nationally and No. 5 in the Big Ten in the 2021 cycle (ahead of Iowa in both cases, which has 16 commitments and a score of 202.74 points).

There used to be some light-hearted trash talk between Hicks and some members of the 2021 class (light-hearted because, after all, all the talent is going to the same place and the ultimate goal is to win a national championship by combining the two classes).

Now? That's almost completely subsided.

“Not anymore,” Hicks said when asked if there was still banter back and forth. “They already know we’re gonna have a better class than them. ... They just keep telling us good job and keep bringing them home.”

TreVeyon Henderson hopped on Twitter last week to echo some of the same comments Ohio State's 2021 five-star quarterback Kyle McCord told Eleven Warriors a couple months ago regarding what the 2022 class was already doing – back when it only had six commitments as it was coming off the pledge of tight end Bennett Christian.

“That class is looking good. They’re off to a good start. That 2022 class is coming together real nice,” McCord said at the time. “It’s really good to have that friendly competition knowing that (both classes) are gonna come together in about a year, so that’s pretty sweet knowing that C.J.’s kind of leading the charge and that they’re off to a hot start right now. I’m gonna try to recruit for the 2022 class a little bit as well and try to get the momentum going, and hopefully we’ll have back-to-back No. 1 classes. That’d be awesome.”

That's certainly in the cards right now if the 2021 class can finish out with five-stars Emeka Egbuka and J.T. Tuimoloau.

Speaking of five-stars, when we look ahead again to 2022, Hicks' good friend and fellow linebacker Shawn Murphy is another who has been rumored to be en route as an Ohio State commit soon, but nothing has happened as of yet.

“I still talk to Shawn,” Hicks said. “He's still waiting it out. He wants to make sure he’s making the right decision before he gets into it. He's already visited. He’s just waiting for communication and stuff and waiting things out.”

And as for Jackson and Johnson, whom Hicks and McCullough have been working on for quite a while now, "they're still on the list, for sure. We're in their top schools.

“(Michigan is) up there, and I see why. Domani grew up a fan of them, and Will lives up there. They haven’t visited OSU so I think that could change when they get around all of us.”

And when might they get around Ohio State's 2022 commits? That remains to be seen, but Hicks and McCullough have been discussing putting together a second Buckeye Bash. (I like to call it the “Buckeye Bash 2.0,” or maybe it should be “Buckeye Bash 2: Bash Harder,” or “Buckeye Bash 2: Judgement Day,” we'll figure it out eventually.)

We’re gonna probably do that in January or February,” Hicks said. “We have (talked about doing it for the Michigan game), but we just don’t know how everyone’s season is gonna go.

“We talked about it as a group but not a ton. Me and Dasan talk about it heavy.”

Getting the entire crew together, plus a group of uncommitted guys, could be the next big step in breaking down some huge walls and accomplishing some big goals.

“The goal was to have a better class than 2021,” Hicks said. “But now the goal is to have the best recruiting class ever.”

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