The 2023 recruiting board is taking shape.
Ryan Day's 2022 recruiting class is well-positioned to compete for the national recruiting crown. Yesterday's pledge from four-star offensive tackle George Fitzpatrick only strengthened the Buckeyes hold atop the team rankings, and there's likely still room for another 6-8 commitments before all is said and done.
Looking ahead to the 2023 class, Ohio State currently doesn't have a single name in the commitment column. That's not a concern by any means, but history does show that it's a bit of an outlier.
Jack Sawyer got things started for 2021 by committing way back in February of his sophomore season (2019). Jyaire Brown followed suit for the 2022 class by announcing his commitment 15 months ago in April of his own sophomore year.
The pandemic has absolutely played a part in this since it was impossible for members of the 2023 class to meet with coaches in person for the better part of a year. With the recruiting world opening back up in June, things are finally heating up as we're starting to get a glimpse of who Ryan Day and the Ohio State coaching staff are really zeroing in on.
We're probably still several months away from the first full 2023 recruiting board, but a number of priority targets are starting to emerge; some of which may ultimately find themselves in the "must-get" category.
5. Luke Montgomery • Offensive Line • Findlay, Ohio
Ohio State recently lost a battle against the Irish when Mentor defensive end Brenan Vernon announced his commitment. It'd be an even more surprising turn of events if Luke Montgomery did the same. The Findlay lineman is a different kind of kid, and it's going to be a tall task for Notre Dame or any other program to pull the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder away from Columbus.
Montgomery is capable of playing on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but his future is likely the brightest on offense. Still, that hasn't stopped programs like Notre Dame and Michigan State from recruiting him on defense. Greg Studrawa seems to be running the show for the Buckeyes, and the state's No. 3 prospect is likely to make his decision sometime during the upcoming season. He'll be an active recruiter for his program of choice.
4. A.J. Harris • Cornerback • Phenix City, Alabama
Kerry Coombs already has four talented cornerbacks committed for 2022, and it's going to be a deep unit for the foreseeable future. But landing a five-star prospect who recently put on a show at The Opening is high on the Buckeyes' to-do list. Despite being a year younger than most of the participants, Alabama cornerback A.J. Harris caught the eye of just about everyone who was at the event.
At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Harris is heavily sought after by Notre Dame, Clemson, and all of the SEC powers. Despite living right along the Alabama-Georgia border, Harris comes from a military family and has also lived in Germany and California. He took several visits in June and could be making a decision here in the coming months. Kerry Coombs and the Buckeyes will be tough to beat for the five-star 2023 corner, and it would be a major win over Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, and Notre Dame.
3. Kadyn Proctor • Offensive Tackle • Des Moines, Iowa
Greg Studrawa has done a heck of a job developing Ohio State's offensive line. The Buckeyes' recruiting has also been superb at the position, but the staff has had some problems landing the prototypical left tackle types. Five-star J.C. Latham landed in Tuscaloosa and 2022 tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin sided with Kentucky over Ohio State and a host of other national powers.
Iowa's Kadyn Proctor should be the priority at the position for 2023, and the Buckeyes are in a solid spot early on. The 6-foot-7, 300-pounder is ranked as the class's second-best tackle and is a teammate of top 2022 Ohio State safety target Xavier Nwankpa. Proctor visited Ohio State and Notre Dame in June, and the two Midwest powers should be mainstays in his recruitment. He has no plans of committing anytime soon.
2. Richard Young • Running Back • Lehigh Acres, Florida
Tony Alford is on a mission to accomplish the same thing he did for the 2021 class. The Buckeyes are likely signing just one tailback in the current cycle, and they've already got their guy in Memphis's Dallan Hayden. It's not easy to land two elite tailbacks in one class, but Alford did just that when he signed TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor last December.
Ohio State is shooting for another pair for 2023, and Florida five-star Richard Young is at the very top of the list. The No. 1 player at the position and a top-20 overall prospect, Young has offers from all over the country and is likely to see his recruitment come down to Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State. Alford has the Buckeyes in a solid spot, but it's never easy to beat the Tide and Dawgs when it comes to the top backfield targets. Still, this is absolutely a battle Ryan Day and Co. can win.
1. Sonny Styles • Athlete • Pickerington, Ohio
The Ohio State staff won't have to look far for what we believe to be the most important prospect in the 2023 class. Pickerington Central's Sonny Styles is likely to follow in one of his family member's footsteps. His father Lorenzo was an All-Big Ten linebacker and Butkus Award finalist at Ohio State. His older brother, Lorenzo Jr., enrolled at Notre Dame earlier this year.
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Sonny Styles is listed as a safety on 247 Sports, but the "athlete" label is definitely more fitting. He camped at Ohio State last month and spent time working out with Kerry Coombs, Al Washington, and Larry Johnson. Styles seems like the perfect new-age linebacker prospect or someone who could man the hybrid bullet position in the Buckeyes' scheme.
Lorenzo Jr. was a heck of a high school receiver, but Brian Hartline had zeroed in on guys like Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. early on in the process. And it's certainly hard to argue with what he's done on the trail. The Sonny Styles recruitment is going to have an entirely different feel to it. Alabama and several other big-time programs are involved, but it sure feels like it's going to be an Ohio State vs. Notre Dame battle for the state's top prospect.
This is one the Buckeyes can't let get away.