Larry Johnson handles things differently.
Ohio State's top-ranked 2022 recruiting class is up to 13 commitments and has separated itself a bit from the likes of LSU, Notre Dame, and Georgia. The class is more than halfway full and features five-star prospects at quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback, and linebacker.
Larry Johnson is still looking for his first commitment along the defensive line.
Buckeye fans have a tendency to worry about the other side of the trenches – especially when it comes to recruiting athletic offensive tackles – but that's never really been the case on defense. Johnson may handle things a little bit differently when it comes to the process, but no one can argue with the results both on the trail and on the field.
The extended dead period prevented on-campus visits from taking place. It also prevented Larry Johnson from getting the valuable hands-on work that he uses to help identify the prospects that he's really going to push for. Over the last several cycles, it's just seemed like the number of real defensive line targets has been far fewer than other position groups.
I suppose that's an easy way of saying that if the country's best defensive line coach wants a player and really zeroes in on him, then that prospect has clearly earned it.
The Buckeyes are likely to take upwards of five or six defensive linemen for the 2022 cycle. We already know about the unquestioned top-of-the-board targets, but we've slowly been able to piece things together beyond that elite top tier.
Elite Duo at the Very Top
We're solely looking at the realistic names for this exercise, and two prospects have long been at the very top of the board. Texas edge rusher Omari Abor and versatile Indiana defender Caden Curry are two of the staff's top targets regardless of position, and Larry Johnson landing both of them is very much in the cards.
Ohio State hosted Abor last weekend for an official visit. He's in Baton Rouge this week and will then hit up Oklahoma and Alabama. The Sooners and Buckeyes are believed to be the top contenders. Curry's recruitment has yet to really take off in part due to his baseball schedule. He's at Clemson this weekend and will then head to Columbus and Tuscaloosa. Ohio State has been viewed as the favorite, but things are finally about to pick up even though he's saving the official visits for the fall. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Curry is a guy who could play all over the defensive line.
Another Talented Tier
After this week's camp, there's another name that could actually be in the same tier as Abor and Curry. Hero Kanu has seen his stock soar in recent months with offers coming in from the likes of Georgia, Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State. The defensive tackle suits up for California's Santa Margarita Catholic High School but his family still lives in Germany. Kanu spent two days in Columbus and many think the Buckeyes are now the favorites. He'll soon travel to Germany before making his way back to California this fall. He's planning to announce a decision in January.
At this point, there seem to be two other tackles that are clearly worth watching. Georgia's Christen Miller was on campus last week and is currently at USC for his official visit. The Buckeyes and Trojans are likely at the top of the board, but you can never discount the Dawgs for a top-rated in-state prospect. Perhaps the best bit of news here is that Larry Johnson will get Miller back on campus once again on June 25 for an official visit.
Oklahoma's Chris McClellan is also near the top of the board along the interior part of the line, and it's shaping up to be a battle between the Buckeyes, Gators, and Sooners for the top-100 national prospect. He's already taken his official to Florida, ad Ohio State will get him on campus on June 25. McClellan plays for the same Owasso program that produced Josh Proctor back in 2018.
Along the edge, Florida's Kenyatta Jackson continues to be one of the very real options for Johnson and the Buckeye staff. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Jackson is fresh off a trip to Alabama, and the Tide should be viewed as a contender moving forward. His Chaminade-Madonna Prep program is checking out several schools this month. Jackson has official visits set up to Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio State. Clemson is also a real player here even though the Tigers don't allow official visits until the fall. Jackson's teammate is four-star Buckeye cornerback commit Ryan Turner.
Several Other Options Remain
There are a few other edge rushers to watch moving forward. Fort Lauderdale's Marvin Jones Jr. is rated No. 51 nationally and is expected to make his official visits this fall. He'll be at Ohio State when the Buckeyes host the Ducks. Alabama, Florida State, and Oklahoma are among the other options, and the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder seems fairly wide open at this point. The same can be said for Baltimore's Derrick Moore. Oklahoma, Penn State, and Ohio State are all in the mix, but the Sooners seem to be pushing the hardest in Moore's recruitment.
North Carolina defensive tackle Curtis Neal is making his official visit this weekend, and we'll see if Ohio State elects to push for the 6-foot-1, 290-pounder. The biggest thing working against the three-star is that he will miss his senior season due to an upcoming surgery to repair a torn ACL. Neal visited Wisconsin last weekend and is expected to make a decision within the next few weeks. Right now it seems like the Badgers would be the safe bet.
Two other interior defenders made recent visits to Columbus, and both are worth monitoring. IMG Academy's Nick James made his official visit last weekend as the Buckeyes are among several schools in the mix. James doesn't seem in any rush to make a decision and will likely take things into the fall.
Indiana's Kenneth Grant earned a Buckeye offer earlier this month when he camped in Columbus. He's a massive lineman who flashed athleticism despite checking in at 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds. The camp circuit is already paying off for the three-star as his top offers now include Ohio State and Michigan. The Big Ten foes could be at the forefront of his recruitment moving forward.