Heat Check: Updating the Board After Ohio State Added Yet Another Five-Star to Strengthen Its Lead Atop the 2022 Recruiting Rankings

By Andrew Ellis on January 6, 2021 at 8:35 am
Five-star cornerback Denver Harris continues to be a priority for Kerry Coombs.

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.

We're living in some interesting times, folks. The last month has seen The Game get canceled and multiple Oho State players and staff hit with COVID-19. Some good news? How about yet another Big Ten championship and a Sugar Bowl slaughter of Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers. That was fun.

Ryan Day and the Buckeyes are now preparing to meet the Crimson Tide all the while Nick Saban's neurotic conspiracy theorist of an offspring is acting weird on the internet. Monday's showdown in Miami is fast approaching, and we'll see if Justin Fields and Co. can accomplish what Cardale Jones and Ezekiel Elliott did many moons ago

On the recruiting front, last weekend brought some super news with the addition of five-star Jacksonville cornerback Jaheim Singletary. It was commitment No. 10 for the Buckeyes' top-rated 2022 recruiting class. Singletary joined Quinn Ewers and Caleb Burton to give Ohio State three early five-star pledges. 

That type of news calls for an update to our 2022 recruiting board.

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

Kiyaunta Goodwin is No. 1 in our hearts and remains at the top of our 2022 recruiting board. There's been little movement with the four-star Charlestown, Indiana tackle, but that's not a bad thing for the Buckeyes. Ohio State has been viewed as the favorite for some time, and Goodwin plans on checking out Columbus again – along with some other schools – once the dead period is lifted.

Five-star Virginia native Zach Rice is the other tackle on our list, and there has been a bit of movement on that front. He's been hinting at some big news coming, but it's important to remember that Rice seems to enjoy the recruiting game more than some others. If a commitment were to come soon, I have a feeling North Carolina could be the choice. The 6-foot-6, 282-pounder is up to No. 3 on the board. Notre Dame appears to be the other school in his top three. 

Right now it's safe to say that Goodwin is the more likely option. He's been on campus several times, idolizes Orlando Pace, and has a solid relationship with the coaching staff and a few of the commits/signees. The Buckeyes will take at least two tackles (and probably three) by the time next February rolls around. Four-star Tegra Tshabola has been committed since last April, but we'll see if his development leads him to tackle or guard.

*Reminder: Zen Michalski is almost 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds.

Another Indiana star takes over the two spot in Greenwood defensive lineman Caden Curry. I had a bit of concern when Notre Dame finally offered in November, but it doesn't appear that the Irish will be too much of a factor here. This probably turns into a battle of the national powers with Ohio State, Clemson, and Alabama being the three standouts right now. We continue to love the Buckeyes' chances with the nation's No. 80 prospect.

Kerry Coombs has a pair of talented defensive backs committed in Jaheim Singletary and Jyaire Brown, but we've still got four remaining on the board. Iowa's Xavier Nwankpa continues to be the clear top target at safety. The four-star has a stellar offer sheet with a number of SEC schools in the mix. The Buckeyes are still viewed as the favorite even though a decision isn't necessarily on the horizon. 

The Singletary addition has led to some reshuffling at the cornerback spot. We've still got the same trio of five-stars listed, but Denver Harris has jumped up to No. 6 ahead of California's Domani Jackson. I'm of the belief that Ohio State is in a better spot for Harris at the moment, and the Ewers/Burton combo will only help in the Lone Star State. LSU and Alabama are serious contenders as well, and we'll see what the coaching shakeup in Austin means for his recruitment. 

The Jackson recruitment could be a wild one to follow with Ohio State, Michigan, and USC the most likely destinations. The Buckeyes remain the crystal ball favorite, but it's going to take some time before we really know where Jackson is leaning. I think Michigan's Will Johnson is a near lock to end up in Ann Arbor, but the uncertainty surrounding the Wolverine coaching staff isn't helping the in-state program's chances. He visited Ohio State last month and is reportedly getting close to a decision. We've now got Johnson at No. 11.

Defensive end is always an important piece for Larry Johnson, but the 2022 board is very much still a work in progress. Five-star Philadelphia defender Enai White remains on the board at No. 5 even though it's too early to get a real feel for his recruitment. White seems nowhere close to a decision as his most recent cut merely narrowed things down to 13 schools. 

We had just one running back on our board last month, but that number is now up to three as Tony Alford will likely look to sign another pair. I'm of the belief that there are three very real names on Ohio State's list at the moment. As for who's being prioritized the most? That's a bit trickier to figure out.

Atlanta's Damari Alston is the holdover from last month, and the four-star was originally going to release his list of top schools in January. He's since backed off those plans, but Ohio State is right up toward the top of the list along with the likes of Florida and North Carolina. Alston has struck up a relationship with a few of the 2021 signees  – including TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor – and has gotten close with Ryan Day, Tony Alford, and Al Washington. 

Memphis tailback Dallan Hayden makes his debut at No. 9 on the board. I think I've been underestimating this situation a bit, and it's become fairly clear that the four-star is in the staff's top tier at the position. Hayden was recently awarded Tennessee's Mr. Football after rushing for over 2,000 yards and 24 scores. Despite being a Volunteer legacy and having yet to visit Columbus or South Bend, it seems like Ohio State and Notre Dame are at the top of his list. 

Nicholas Singleton is a name we've always had pretty much side by side with Damari Alston, but he's now on the board at No. 10. I know some think Ohio State is out in front for the country's No. 7 running back who's yet to really trim down his list. Singleton wants to take some visits before making a decision, but right now it's looking like the Buckeyes, Nittany Lions, and Fighting Irish are in the best position. 

Following the Henderson/Pryor haul, landing one of the above names would be big news for Alford and the Buckeye backfield. Grabbing two of them would solidify the running back room for the next 3-5 years. 

There have been some hints dropped lately, but there aren't any planned announcements coming up in the near future. However, we all know these things can change seemingly out of nowhere – especially when we reach the offseason – and it's always wise to expect the unexpected. Ryan Day and his staff have things rolling on the trail with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

One thing we absolutely are expecting? The Buckeyes and Tide to go at it Monday night for the national title. How does the Ohio State defense handle two Heisman finalists and a monster of running back who's scored 27 touchdowns this year? Great question! I have no idea what's going to happen, but I cannot wait to watch the two powers do battle in Miami. 

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