Heat Check: Hartline Does It Again, Pair of Five-Star Corners Come off the Board As the Dead Period Lingers On

By Andrew Ellis on March 2, 2021 at 9:12 am
Four-star edge rusher Omari Abor makes his debut.

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.

Another month. Another major addition for Ryan Day. Ohio State's top-ranked recruiting class landed a big piece on Sunday when four-star Arizona wideout Kyion Grayes announced his decision. Brian Hartline has a knack for identifying talent early on as the Buckeyes' ace recruiter continues to get basically whomever he wants on the trail. 

The 2022 class is now up to 11 commitments. Three of those are of the five-star variety and the rest are all four-stars. Once again, Day and Co. are doing a fantastic job of building the class early on in the process. The staff will look to continue those efforts even though the dead period has unfortunately been extended until at least May 31. Prospects can still visit campuses on their own dime, though they are not allowed to be in touch with coaching staffs when doing so. 

February had its share of news and notes on the recruiting trail. This calls for an update to our 2022 board as programs look ahead to spring ball.

KIYAUNTA GOODWIN OT 1 1 ★★★★ Alabama•Clemson•Kentucky
CADEN CURRY DL 2 2 ★★★★ Clemson•Alabama•Oregon•ND
XAVIER NWANKPA SAF 3 4 ★★★★ Clemson•Notre Dame•LSU
ZACH RICE OT 4 3 ★★★★★ North Carolina•Notre Dame•Alabama
ENAI WHITE DE 5 5 ★★★★★ Alabama•LSU•Tennessee•PSU
DAMARI ALSTON RB 6 7 ★★★★ Florida•Georgia Tech•UNC•ND
DALLAN HAYDEN RB 7 8 ★★★★ Notre Dame•Tennessee•Oregon
NICHOLAS SINGLETON RB 8 9 ★★★★ Penn State•Notre Dame
KENYATTA JACKSON DE 9 11 ★★★★ Clemson•Bama•Florida•FSU
OMARI ABOR DE 10 NA ★★★★ Oklahoma•Texas•Texas A&M
AUSTIN JORDAN CB 11 NA ★★★★ Oklahoma•Texas•Texas A&M
  • Last month's edition can be found HERE.

The top target on our board is still nowhere close to a decision, but it's now officially a national battle for Kiyaunta Goodwin. Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State were among his 13 finalists, but the Tigers didn't even extend an offer until this past weekend. Goodwin is all the way up to No. 47 in the composite ranking (No. 5 tackle) as he waits to make some much-anticipated visits. We still like the Buckeyes' chances due to the relationship with the coaching staff and some family ties to the Columbus area. 

Four-star defensive lineman Caden Curry remains at No. 2 on our board as he too is being chased by all of the big boys. Much like Goodwin, it's very likely to come down to the three powerhouse programs for the country's 80th-best overall prospect. Ohio State got in on this one early and that's probably what sets the Buckeyes apart from the competition right now. Curry is waiting to take visits before making any sort of decision. 

We've flip-flopped the third and fourth prospects on our board. Xavier Nwankpa got a nice bump in the 247 Sports rankings as he's all the way up to No. 14 in the country (No. 1 safety). Ohio State still appears to be out in front, and the Iowa product has a solid relationship with Kyion Grayes and some of the other commits. Clemson should be viewed as the top competition with the Fighting Irish also in the mix. 

Five-star tackle Zach Rice is down a spot on our board, and the outlook isn't quite as positive for the Virginia native. This will likely be a tough recruitment to get a read on as he mulls through his long list of suitors. Rice wants to take visits but has also said a decision could come at any time. North Carolina continues to be in a good spot for what could end being a bit of a wild ride. The Crimson Tide appear to be making a push after not being listed in his top eight back in November. 

At defensive end, there's not a whole lot to report on the recruitments of Enai White and Kenyatta Jackson. Ohio State appears to be in a better spot for the latter right now with White probably leaning toward the SEC (likely Tuscaloosa). The Jackson recruitment could end up being yet another battle between the Buckeyes and Dabo Swinney. 

The biggest bit of news is a fresh addition to our board. Texas pass rusher Omari Abor is now slotted at No. 10, and a case could be made for him to be a little bit higher. Rated as the country's 37th-best prospect, the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder is likely to end up at Ohio State or one of the Big 12 rivals. Oklahoma is the perceived favorite as he grew up following the Sooners. But this is one Larry Johnson can absolutely win if Abor is able to make it up to Columbus.

Trying to piece together the running back board continues to be a challenging task. Three prospects remain squarely in the mix as Ohio State would likely accept a commitment from any one of its top targets right now. Damari Alston wants to take visits but remains high on the good guys. Dallan Hayden will likely see his recruitment end in Columbus or South Bend unless Tennessee can really turn things around. Nicholas Singleton is tracking toward a summer decision with all of the Midwest powers in the mix. 

It'll be interesting to see how the dominoes fall here. Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Penn State are the top contenders for Singleton. The Buckeyes and Irish are at the top of Hayden's list, though the Nittany Lions did just offer yesterday. And Alston is considering Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, and several other programs. The biggest question here is whether or not one of them makes a decision before the dead period ends. 

It's been an eventful few weeks at cornerback. Five-star Grosse Pointe, Michigan product Will Johnson committed to the Wolverines. The Buckeyes may have briefly taken the lead, but the Michigan legacy will instead follow in his father's footsteps. Ohio State also missed the cut for five-star Houston corner Denver Harris. It seems as though he'll end up in Austin or Tuscaloosa when all is said and done. 

Jaheim Singletary and Jyaire Brown form a solid one-two punch at the position, but Kerry Coombs is still looking for another cornerback. The dream scenario would be flipping Johnson from Michigan or Domani Jackson from USC. The more realistic outcome will be landing one of the five other uncommitted corners that have been offered. 

Right now, the next prospect that becomes a priority should be either Denton, Texas's Austin Jordan or Hollywood, Florida's Ryan Turner. We're giving the edge to Jordan for now as guys like Quinn Ewers and Caleb Burton could help to reel in another Texas star. Jordan and the powerhouse Denton Ryan program are the state's reigning 5A champions. One has to think the Ohio State staff would like to further evaluate before deciding exactly who to push for at corner, but the versatile 5-foot-11, 185-pounder is now firmly in the mix. 

The dead period's extension is unfortunate for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it obviously makes it even harder for prospects and their families to visit college campuses. Additionally, coaching staffs and families are unable to get that important face-to-face time to get a true sense as to how a player may fit into a program. The Zoom visits will continue for at least another three months before we hopefully return to a bit of normalcy. 

*Switches to non-recruiting talk*

My pandemic binge-watching continues to chug right along. Here's a quick, spoiler-free rundown of the last year:

  • The Mandalorian: A+ (Got emotional at the end of season two. No big deal.)
  • Yellowstone: A+ (Watched all three seasons in six days. Phenomenal. Rip Wheeler is my hero.)
  • Cobra Kai: A+ (Brilliant stuff. I want to hang out with Johnny Lawrence.)
  • Your Honor: C+ (Bryan Cranston is great, but the latter half of the season was a letdown.)
  • Mindhunter: A (I cannot believe this show got canceled.)
  • The Sinner: B- (Wanted more crime-related stuff, so I gave it a go. It's been good but not great.)
  • The Umbrella Academy: B+ (Fun show. Fantastic music.)
  • Mr. Robot: A (Had never heard of this show and was told to watch it. It was weird but really, really good.)

I'm one episode into WandaVision, so perhaps I'll report back on that in the near future. I still haven't watched Deadwood either, so that's on the list. Have an enjoyable March, folks. 

View 48 Comments