Heat Check: Ohio State's 2022 Class is Heating Up With Two New Commitments and a Wild Month on the Horizon

By Andrew Ellis on May 11, 2021 at 10:10 am
Zion Branch is one of Ohio State's top safety targets.

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'll keep this intro short and sweet even though there's a lot to unpack from what was an unexpectedly busy month. At the time of our last update, Ohio State's 2022 recruiting class was No. 1 in the country with 11 commitments in the fold. Since that time, the Buckeyes added a pair of commits and lost a big one to Tom Allen and the Hoosiers. The class ranking fell down to No. 3 but is now sitting in second place (behind Georgia) thanks to the new additions. 

Dasan McCullough flipped to Indiana on April 25. The four-star athlete will join forces with his father and two brothers in Bloomington. It was a tough loss for Al Washington, but you really can't fault the kid for making a family decision. A three-day stretch then saw Kerry Coombs land a pair of commitments that caught many off guard. The Sunshine State additions of safety/corner Kye Stokes and cornerback Ryan Turner were the third and fourth commitments in the defensive backfield.

Needless to say, it's been a busy few weeks on the trail. And all of this came before the dead period finally comes to an end. June is going to be unlike anything we've ever seen, folks.

CADEN CURRY DL 2 2 ★★★★ Clemson•Alabama•Oregon•ND
XAVIER NWANKPA SAF 3 3 ★★★★ Texas A&M•Notre Dame•Clemson
AAMIL WAGNER OT 4 10 ★★★★ Notre Dame•Kentucky•Stanford
OMARI ABOR DE 5 8 ★★★★★ Oklahoma•Texas A&M•Alabama
KENYATTA JACKSON DE 6 9 ★★★★ Oklahoma•Clemson
DALLAN HAYDEN RB 7 6 ★★★★ Notre Dame
ZACH RICE OT 8 4 ★★★★★ UNC•Bama•Virginia•ND
ENAI WHITE DE 9 5 ★★★★ Bama•Georgia•Florida•Clemson
ZION BRANCH SAF 10 NA ★★★★ USC•Oregon•Clemson
TORIANO PRIDE CB 11 11 ★★★★ Clemson•Alabama•Missouri
  • Last month's edition can be found HERE.

It's pretty rare for us to have a committed prospect on our board, but here we are thanks to Ohio State's top overall target pledging to the Wildcats. Kiyaunta Goodwin long talked about his desire to take visits before making a decision. That's why the timing of his April 17 commitment – about six weeks prior to the dead period finally ending – was a bit perplexing. It was also a pretty big blow to the Buckeyes' 2022 class much like we saw with J.C. Latham during the previous cycle. 

Goodwin remains on our board because he does still plan on taking visits, and that includes a trip to Columbus. Did the Kentucky staff encourage him to commit before he can get to Ohio State, Clemson, and Alabama? I'm not entirely sure, but that's exactly what I would have done if I were Mark Stoops or Vince Marrow. I think the safe bet is that he ends up in Lexington. But anything can happen when he steps foot on other campuses.

The Goodwin news has some ripple effects on our board as a whole. Greg Studrawa needs tackles, and that's precisely why Aamil Wagner has moved up six spots all the way to No. 4. The Wayne product is now approaching must-get status even though he will likely take some time to develop. Simply put: the Buckeyes need to beat out the Irish for the 6-foot-6, 260-pounder. Five-star Zach Rice is down to No. 8. He's expected to make a visit, but that one looks like a bit of a long shot right now. 

Ohio State should take 4-5 offensive linemen this cycle, and at least two of those need to be true tackles. This is one position group where we could really see some more movement in the fall as more film becomes available. We saw it last September when Zen Michalski earned his offer. I'd look for the Buckeyes to add at least one offensive lineman that's not currently on our radar. 

Nicholas Singleton is off the board at running back, but we've made it pretty clear that Tennessee's Dallan Hayden has been Tony Alford's main priority for a few months now. Notre Dame and Ohio State will both get officials in June. We've liked the Buckeyes for a while now, and that hasn't changed a bit.

The No. 2 and No. 3 slots remain unchanged. Caden Curry and Xavier Nwankpa are the top defensive targets and Ohio State is still in a solid spot for each of them. Could both of the prized defenders be in the commitment column by the end of June? It's certainly possible, and that'd be a nice bit of news as the Buckeyes look to again finish toward the top of the team rankings. Clemson and Alabama are worth watching for Curry. Texas A&M could be the top competition for Nwankpa. 

We've still got three edge rushers on the board, but there's been some movement here as well. Texas native Omari Abor is now a five-star in the composite rankings, and he's also up to No. 5 on the list. Can Larry Johnson lock this one up when he makes his official visit on June 4? I'm not sure about the timing of things, but this feels like one Ohio State can win even though Abor grew up rooting for the Sooners.

Not that the social media game matters much at all, but the five-star Texan is keen on player development and has been known to retweet items such as this:

Florida's Kenyatta Jackson now finds himself in the six-hole as the Buckeyes battle Oklahoma and Clemson. New cornerback commit Ryan Turner has already said that he'll be working on getting his teammate to join him in Columbus. The Tigers don't allow June official visits, and that may turn this one into a Buckeye/Sooner battle as well. Jackson is scheduled to make his official visit on June 25; one week after checking out Norman.

Ohio State was recently named one of the top eight schools for Philadelphia's Enai White. The same can't be said for the Nittany Lions as James Franklin is going to miss out on the state's top prospect for a fourth-straight year, and that doesn't even include guys like Kyle McCord and Marvin Harrison Jr. (No. 2 and No. 5 for 2021). White has fallen down to No. 9 since it's looking like he'll end up in the SEC. Larry Johnson will get his shot in late June, however, and we'll see if that changes things at all. 

We round things out on the defensive side of the ball with a pair from the secondary. Even though Kerry Coombs has three cornerbacks in the fold, I've decided to keep Toriano Pride on the board at No. 11. The St. Louis defender has official visits scheduled to Ohio State, Clemson, and Auburn. He seems to be leaning toward Clemson right now (and depth charts are a factor here), but Coombs and Co. would absolutely take the four-star and let the numbers game work itself out in the secondary. Pride is another player that Ryan Turner is actively recruiting.

In addition to Nwankpa, there are a couple of other big names to know at safety. Zion Branch is the one who makes his debut on our board for the time being, but it's worth keeping an eye on California's Kamari Ramsey as well. Ohio State is looking to go back to Vegas's Bishop Gorman High School for the nation's No. 4 safety. I'm of the belief it'll be the Buckeyes or Trojans for Branch as both programs will play host next month. 

The Kye Stokes commitment makes things a bit interesting here even though he should be viewed as a defensive back rather than strictly a corner or safety (he can probably play either). I'm not so sure it will really influence the top remaining guys, however, as Coombs would almost certainly make room for both Nwankpa and Branch if both wanted in. 

I decided to vacation to Florida in late April thinking there wouldn't be a heck of a lot going on. The spring game was over and we were still several weeks away from the dead period being lifted in June. A perfect time for a trip to the glorious gulf coast.

Boy, I was way off. But that's precisely why this update is coming a week later than usual. It's probably for the best considering all that's went down in recent weeks. It's true that Ryan Day's class has fallen from the top of the rankings. It's also true that Ohio State lost one of its top-rated commits and added a pair of three-stars (three!) in early May.

Truth be told, Turner has long been one of the few priorities at corner while Stokes was arguably the hottest name in the country leading up to his pledge. It could always be worse. At least Ohio State isn't losing one of its top 2021 signees to Texas and watching coordinators leave town before even coaching a single game. 

Enjoy the month of May. I hope your Memorial Day is better than the 2020 version. 

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