The Hurry-Up: Ohio State Enters Race for No. 1 Receiver in Fourth Straight Cycle, Along with Two Other Potential Five-Stars in 2023 Class

By Zack Carpenter on February 23, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Brandon Iniss

The Hurry-Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Three new offers

With the 2021 class almost completely signed (except for possibly J.T. Tuimoloau) and the 2022 class’ targets mostly known, Ohio State has been hitting the trail heavily in the 2023 cycle over the past several days.

That started with six new offers from Wednesday through Saturday, including three star players hailing from the state of Georgia and an in-state prospect who is going to wind up as a top-three player in Ohio (and probably a top-150 guy) in Luke Montgomery.

The Buckeyes were back at it on Monday night and Tuesday morning, offering a pair of the 2023 class’ best wideouts and one of its best defensive back prospects.

Cormani McClain

McClain is a 6-foot-1, 170-pound prospect out of Lakeland (Florida) High School, the same program that houses another Ohio State prospect in the 2022 cycle, five-star defensive tackle Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy, whom the Buckeyes have offered.

McClain is an early five-star candidate who has the potential to wind up in the top three at the cornerback spot. What makes that all the more incredible for McClain is that he wasn’t even supposed to play cornerback this past season. He was set to only play at receiver, but injuries forced him onto the other side of the field.

He flourished, using his noticeable length, man-press physicality and the ball skills he learned as a receiver to snag a school-record nine interceptions along with 29 tackles. That standout season has led to a chunk of offers, with Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia calling this week in addition to Florida, Florida State, Miami and Penn State.

McClain, the first cornerback offered by the Buckeyes in the 2023 class, is a player to keep tabs on for the rest of this cycle.

Brandon Inniss

Speaking of those to keep an eye on, the nation’s No. 1 receiver and No. 7 overall player certainly hits that mark as well.

Inniss is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound receiver who is ranked No. 2 in the state of Florida out of TRU Prep Academy (Miami Gardens) and who we will be talking about for the next several months in the same vein as a trio of recent Ohio State receiver signees and commits.

Iniss is a top candidate to finish the cycle ranked as the nation’s top receiver and would join Julian Fleming (2020), Emeka Egbuka (2021) and Caleb Burton (2022) as the next in line to earn that distinction.

You might remember that all three of those players committed to Brian Hartline, with two of them now at Ohio State. (With Burton well on his way after doubling and tripling down on his commitment in recent weeks.)

Seeing all those players, plus the likes of Garrett Wilson, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and others shine in Columbus has obviously not been lost on Inniss.

“I feel really blessed right now, to see the wide receivers they brought in and to see I’m the first one he offered in 2023 is an amazing feeling,” Inniss told Eleven Warriors. “I like how much they produce wide receivers to the NFL and that’s my end goal. I talked to some guys that had conversations with Coach Hartline, and they all had everything good to say about him.”

One of those players he spoke with was a target who actually didn’t commit to Hartline but still had good things to say about the nation’s top receivers coach: Troy Stellato, out of Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale), who committed to Clemson in the 2021 class.

Like Stellato did, Inniss plays his high school ball in the southeast region of Florida, and also like Stellato, he has formed a good relationship with up-and-coming Ohio State assistant Keenan Bailey, a native of Pompano Beach. The two have spoken already about how Inniss’ skillset matches up to what each player in the nation’s best receivers duo brings to the table.

“Coach Kee named a few guys like Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave’s deep play abilities,” Inniss said. “I bring everything to the table. I’m a do-it-all kind of guy. Put me in the slot at wideout in the backfield and motion me out, I can do it all. And my film speaks for itself.”

Sounds like the Buckeyes’ offense and Inniss’ ability would be a good match.

“The offense is very electrifying, and that’s an offense I can see myself in a couple years from now,” Inniss said.

His current offer sheet stands at nearly 30 programs and is highlighted by Auburn, Baylor, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M. He has already accepted an invitation to the All-American Bowl.

Jalen Hale

Last but not least, Hale is a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder who hails from Longview (Texas) High School, where he has the distinction of being the state's No. 6-ranked prospect in the class as well as the No. 60 overall player and the No. 7 receiver in America.

As a sophomore at Longview, Hale led the 9-3 Lobos with team-highs in receptions (37), yards (652) and touchdowns (nine) in 11 games before bowing out to 15-0 juggernaut and eventual state champion Ryan High School (featuring Ohio State 2022 targets Austin Jordan and Georgia DT commit Bear Alexander, plus 2023 Buckeye linebacker target Anthony Hill) in the third round of the playoffs.

Hale holds nearly 20 offers thus far, highlighted by the Buckeyes, Auburn, Baylor, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.

Header photo: Brandon Inniss – Andrew Ivins/247Sports

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