The Hurry-Up: Ohio State Adds In-State PWO Jackson Kuwatch, Buckeyes Making Waves With No. 2 OT Alex Birchmeier Who Has Ohio Ties

By Zack Carpenter on February 26, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Alex Birchmeier

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.

Buckeyes add PWO

Lakota West head coach Tom Bolden is already sending a pair of his top players to the Buckeyes in the 2022 class in four-star cornerback Jyaire Brown and four-star offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola.

Now, Bolden will be sending another player to Ryan Day's crew, this time in the 2021 class in the form of 6-foot-4, 225-pound linebacker Jackson Kuwatch.

Kuwatch announced on Thursday night that he has accepted a preferred walk-on spot with the Buckeyes and will be joined by teammates Tshabola and Brown in two years.

Kuwatch got a shoutout from Tshabola, who tweeted that Kuwatch is “The toughest, most hard-working player I’ve ever met.”

According to his Hudl profile, Kuwatch runs a 4.7 in the 40-yard dash and a 4.3 in the shuttle among some other measurables.

Birchmeier has Ohio roots

It’s a story as old as recruiting itself – Ohio State finding an elite national prospect who has some sort of local ties to the area.

Mark Pantoni and crew have done it again in the 2023 cycle, offering the nation’s No. 2 offensive tackle and No. 29 overall player in Alex Birchmeier, the No. 1 prospect in Virginia out of Broad Run High School whose parents are natives of Chagrin Falls.

“I was very surprised when they offered me, but obviously I was super happy about it,” Birchmeier told Eleven Warriors. “OSU is a great program, and they have a great football team and my parents grew up in Ohio so I’m familiar with the area.”

Early on, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Birchmeier has not yet had discussions with the Ohio State coaching staff about whether they like him outside as a tackle or inside as a guard. He plays on the interior in a lot of his film. Greg Studrawa and Co. have just indicated to him that they love his skillset.

“I bring athleticism and strength to the field when I play,” Birchmeier said. “A combination of those two plus good technique helps us win our games. 

“Coach Stud is definitely the type of coach to take me to the next level. OSU has a great O-line, and I’m sure I would fit well.”

Birchmeier is projected as a Power-5 starter level player by 247Sports’ Brian Dohn:

“Frame, length to be an offensive tackle in college but can also be dominant guard,” Dohn wrote. “Excels as wrestler. Athletic, physical, punishing run blocker. Feisty and flexible. Plays with attitude. Quick feet and very good at pulling. Can sink hips and win leverage. Strong initial punch. As frame matures and strength is added, could be devastating player on high school level. Expected lower body development will aid in drive blocking. Will continue to develop pass pro skills. Starter at elite level Power 5 school.”

Some of his other offers include Penn State, Florida State, Arizona State, Notre Dame and North Carolina.

“Crazy, unreal experience”

The moment that Caleb Downs got the news that Ohio State was truly interested, it floored him.

It was some of the best news he could have gotten. Even for a 2023 prospect who has recently been offered by Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Georgia – plus the likes of LSU, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Penn State – it still meant something special.

“It was a crazy, unreal experience when I heard that I was getting the offer,” Downs told Eleven Warriors.

Ohio State’s brand means a lot to the nation’s best players, and that’s certainly an accurate description of Downs. The No. 14 overall player, No. 2 safety and No. 2 player in Georgia’s 2023 cycle, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder out of Mill Creek High School brings plenty to the table as a defensive back prospect.

A self-described “intelligent player that has instincts for the game,” Downs says that he would be a good fit for the Buckeyes’ defensive schemes because “they play a lot of man-free, and I think that’s one of the coverages I play well.

“They know what they are doing at the position, and they know how to coach. (They told me) they loved all the plays I made.”

Downs’ sophomore season film is certainly impressive, and he’s learned some of the skills he showcased through his football lineage. His father, Gary Downs, is a former NC State running back and NFL running back who was selected in the third round of the draft and played for the Giants, Broncos and Falcons before eventually landing with East Tennessee State as its recruiting coordinator and running backs coach.

Downs’ older brother, Josh Downs, is a receiver who played in 10 games at North Carolina as a true freshman and ended the season on a momentous high note by setting season highs with four catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Header photo: Alex Birchmeier – Brian Dohn/247Sports

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