Heat Check: Major Movement After Buckeyes Add a Pair of Five-Stars, Take Over the Top Spot in the Team Rankings

By Andrew Ellis on December 2, 2020 at 8:35 am
Five-star linebacker Shawn Murphy makes his debut on our 2022 recruiting board.

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.

Ohio State is undefeated on the season and slotted at No. 4 in the latest playoff rankings. Its 2021 recruiting class has a shot to finish No. 1 overall, and the 2022 crop of talent has surged to the top of the team rankings after a huge month of November. I guess you could say things are going pretty well despite the recent anxiety over the canceled game against Illinois. 

The month got off to a good start when top tight end target Benji Gosnell announced his commitment. Gosnell joined Georgia's Bennett Christian as Kevin Wilson's 2022 tight end haul is now complete. His pledge boosted the Buckeyes over LSU for the top spot in the team rankings. 

The latter part of November was even bigger as Ryan Day landed a pair of five-stars from Tom Herman's backyard. Ohio State's success in the Lone Star State has become a common theme, and Quinn Ewers and Caleb Burton are the latest in a long line of Texas talent. The additions of the nation's top quarterback and second-best wideout gave the Buckeyes commitments No. 8 and 9 for the 2022 class

Ewers had previously been slotted at No. 2 on our board while Burton was sitting at No. 5. Following last month's bit of big news, we've made some changes for the Class of 2022.

KIYAUNTA GOODWIN OT 1 1 ★★★★ Bama•Tennessee•Kentucky•ND
DOMANI JACKSON CB 2 3 ★★★★★ Michigan•USC•Clemson
CADEN CURRY DL 3 4 ★★★★ Clemson•Bama•Oregon•ND
ZACH RICE OT 4 6 ★★★★★ Notre Dame•Florida•LSU•Oklahoma
XAVIER NWANKPA SAF 5 9 ★★★★ LSU•Iowa•Clemson•ND•Florida
ENAI WHITE DE 6 8 ★★★★★ PSU•Alabama•LSU•Tennessee
DENVER HARRIS CB 7 NA ★★★★★ LSU•Texas•Alabama
DAMARI ALSTON RB 8 11 ★★★★ Florida•Georgia Tech•UNC•ND
GUNNER GIVENS OT 9 7 ★★★★★ Clemson•Bama•PSU•VT
WILL JOHNSON CB 10 10 ★★★★★ Michigan•USC
SHAWN MURPHY LB 11 NA ★★★★★ Alabama•Clemson•PSU•UNC
  • Last month's edition can be found HERE.

Mammoth Indiana tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin remains at No. 1, and I honestly don't see this one changing until he comes off the board. The 6-foot-7, 300-pounder has offers from all over the country, though I'm not entirely sure who the top competition even is at the moment. Goodwin has been on Ohio State's campus multiple times and – in a class that needs offensive tackles – he's about as close as it gets to a must-get target.

Five-star cornerback Domani Jackson moves up to No. 2 on the board. The California product made a trip to Ann Arbor in mid-November and was in town while the Wolverines got annihilated by Wisconsin. Regardless of that, Michigan is perhaps the top competition right now in a recruitment that should last for a while. Kerry Coombs and Co. will need to get him on campus at some point when things open back up. 

We touched on this before, but Jackson is also tight with five-star Grosse Pointe, Michigan cornerback Will Johnson. Both were on campus for the Wisconsin debacle and continue to say they will be a part of a package deal. As for Johnson, the five-star saw some crystal ball activity in the Wolverines' favor last month, which really shouldn't come as a surprise given his ties to the program. He holds steady at No. 10 on our board and Ohio State is still very much in the picture.

Along the defensive line, Caden Curry is now slotted at No. 3, and we're still loving Ohio State's chances. Notre Dame offered in November, and while I have no idea why it took them so long, the Irish are definitely worth watching. Curry hasn't really gotten to check out any campuses, but the early feel on this one is that Notre Dame, Clemson, and Alabama are the biggest threats for the four-star. 

Outside of Goodwin, we've still got the same names on the board at tackle. Zach Rice rises up to No. 6 while fellow Virginian Gunner Givens is down to No. 9. Both announced their top schools in November and the Buckeyes made both cuts. There's some chatter about Givens announcing his decision in the near future, and that'd be bad news for Ohio State. Rice seems fairly open right now though I wonder if Notre Dame may be out in front. 

Four-star Iowa safety Xavier Nwankpa makes the jump up to No. 5 as he certainly appears to be the staff's top safety target. There hasn't been much movement here outside of his chatting it up with Ohio State commits on social media. The hard-hitting defender continues to be one of the more likely candidates to fill a 2022 safety spot; even if it does take a little bit of time. It's worth noting that he picked up a Clemson offer last month. 

Pennsylvania defensive end Enai White narrowed his list down a few weeks back, but listing 13 schools doesn't give us much of an idea as to where things stand. The Philly five-star has offers from just about everyone that matters and it's still too early to get a feel for which way he may be leaning. Power programs like Alabama, Clemson, and LSU also made the cut. He says he wants to get away from home for college. We'll see exactly how far. 

Denver Harris is a new addition to the board, and the five-star Texan is in the same elite cornerback tier as Jackson and Johnson. A few months back, I had been told pretty definitively that Texas was the team to beat. But then Tom Herman did his thing and it's now looking like the Horns could be running third at best. Harris has taken note of the Ewers and Burton commitments, and that certainly doesn't hurt. 

My thought right now is that Ohio State has the upper hand over LSU, but this could be a lengthy national battle with teams like Alabama also being heavily involved. Maybe Texas hires Urban Meyer and all of the in-state superstars decide to stay home? 

We're still of the belief that Damari Alston is the staff's top choice at tailback with Nicholas Singleton not far behind. The Atlanta four-star is the nation's No. 27 back, but I have a feeling that will change given that he's being chased by just about everyone in the country (besides the in-state Bulldogs—yet). Alston has indicated that his best relationship is with Tony Alford, but this won't be an easy pull from Florida and the rest of the Southeast. 

Linebacker has already been addressed in a big way as Al Washington has three superstars committed in C.J. Hicks, Dasan McCullough, and Marysville's Gabe Powers. There is some positional versatility among the group, so adding another does make sense.

Virginia's Shawn Murphy has gotten close with several of the Buckeye commits, and he's the best guess right now to finish off the linebacker class. Making his board debut at No. 11, he's more of a thumper in the mold of a Raekwon McMillan as opposed to the more athletic Hicks/Jerome Baker types. Washington's room will be losing a lot of talent over the next year, and his reload is already nearing its completion. 

Things are looking up for the 2020 season as Ohio State returned to practice yesterday and will hopefully be able to face Michigan State on Saturday. On the recruiting front, it's mostly been business as usual despite the seemingly never-ending dead period. The Class of 2021 early signing period is now just two weeks away. We aren't expecting any crazy news with it, but it's always good when these commitments finally become official. 

As for the Class of 2022, Ryan Day is obviously off to a tremendous start once again and has more than proven himself to be among the nation's elite recruiters. You know what would only help matters even more? Yet another College Football Playoff berth. 

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