We have to be cautiously optimistic and a bit guarded when we say this but it really has started to feel as if the million-years long recruiting dead period will be coming to an end on June 1.
If it does, and a quiet period is put in place to where official and unofficial visits to campuses are allowed, then Ohio State’s group of 2022 commits finally has a date in place for the Buckeye Bash 2.0. And they're not wasting any time.
C.J. Hicks, Dasan McCullough and Co. for months have been looking to organize a commit-led recruiting weekend, and I’m told by Hicks and McCullough that the June 4-6 weekend is the tentative date the 2022 group has put in place for when it will be happening.
The names we have been told will be there include 2022 commits Hicks, McCullough, Quinn Ewers, Caleb Burton, Gabe Powers, Kyion Grayes and Jyaire Brown. That’s seven of the current 11 commits, with Jaheim Singletary, Tegra Tshabola, Benji Gosnell and Bennett Christian as the others.
There are four top targets – Kiyaunta Goodwin, Christen Miller, Ryan Turner and Aamil Wagner – who may make the trip that weekend as well. But to be very clear, these players are not confirmed yet as having set official visit dates for that weekend. As we get closer to that date, and assuming the dead period is lifted, we will do some digging to find out which of those players elects to visit that weekend and if any more decide the same along the way.
As a quick refresher…
When Oklahoma held its Sooner Summit in August 2020, programs around the country followed suit with similar such commit-organized mega recruiting weekends – notably LSU and USC.
Well, Jack Sawyer and the contingent of 2021 Buckeye commits (and eventual signees) got to work as well by setting up and organizing the “Buckeye Bash,” as it became widely known, that featured 10 of the players in that No. 2-ranked class plus four-star safety Derrick Davis Jr.
The three main purposes of that trip?
One, to finally put faces to names and have a bonding experience with the fellow guys in their class. The 2021 class’ group chat – made famous over the course of about a year during the entire haul’s recruitments – had helped them form that bond, and the players noted how important it was in helping create comfort and camaraderie among the group during a year-long pandemic where they couldn’t visit Ohio State games.
Two, if possible, to make a concerted and collective effort in the recruitment of three highly regarded Buckeye targets in Davis, J.T. Tuimoloau and Tristan Leigh. Tuimoloau and Leigh, of course, couldn’t make the trip, with Leigh originally set to come but having to back out last minute. (As we reported, however, there wasn’t much confidence that Leigh was as serious about Ohio State as previously thought).
Three, to get the three commits who had never visited Columbus before (TreVeyon Henderson, Tyleik Williams, Denzel Burke) some extra familiarity and comfortability, though Burke wound up not being able to make the trip.
Obviously, the No. 2 purpose didn’t work out as Davis would go on to sign with LSU. But the No. 3 goal worked out perfectly, and the most important aspect of that trip – the bonding experience – was about as successful as it possibly could have been.
“That was the best weekend. It was fun getting to see everyone in person,” 2021 signee Zen Michalski told Eleven Warriors in December about the Buckeye Bash. “I think most of them had met each other in person, but I hadn’t. So it was nice to be able to see everybody for the first time. I really just wanted to meet everyone. Because you can be somebody completely different over the phone. You can see how people actually are in person, and they’re definitely people I wanna be around.”
So that’s exactly what the main purpose of this June 4-6 weekend – or any other weekend if they wind up having to reshuffle and reschedule to make it work for the most people possible – will be all about.
We first started talking about this back in November after speaking with Hicks. Back then, Captain Buckeye and the rest of this class was already looking to create a Buckeye Bash 2.0 event.
And, as a not-so-important aside but still feel inclined to say it, that “Buckeye Bash 2.0” title, in addition to the “Buckeye Bash” label for the 2021 group, is not what the commits call it amongst themselves. They don’t have an actual title for it. It’s just a media creation by yours truly. Gives it a nice ring, I think, though I still prefer something like “Buckeye Bash 2: Electric Boogaloo” or “BB2: Judgment Day.”
But I digress.
Whatever you want to call it, this second big recruiting weekend for the commits will be another way in which the 2022 group is following a similar blueprint as the 2021 class. Both will have held long leads for the No. 1 ranking in America and will have competed for the program’s first-ever recruiting crown as Ryan Day stacks two immensely talented classes on top of one another.
Also, that 2021 class had a rare togetherness that not a ton of recruiting classes throughout the nation have. They put that weekend together because of how tight of a bond they had without even having met each other in-person in most cases. Mark Pantoni spoke about that in each of his media availabilities over the past year. You’re only fooling yourself if you think those bonds don’t matter and that they don’t translate to the field.
In addition to those four 2022 targets mentioned above, prospects in the 2023 class are also expected to make visits that weekend. One that we know for sure who is slated to visit is Florida defensive end Derrick Leblanc, one of Larry Johnson’s key targets along the defensive line in the cycle.
That visit weekend could be a major stepping stone for Leblanc’s recruitment to Ohio State and another player who could benefit from the bonding experience.
“I’m gonna be out there with all of them so I just feel blessed about it,” Leblanc told Eleven Warriors. “we’re all in a group chat so we’re all saying let’s go to Ohio State on this date. So they’re gonna be having their officials when I’m having my unofficial. So it’s just gonna be like, ‘I’m hanging out with the family, my boys.’”