A visit to Columbus in June was originally planned.
Then, four-star offensive lineman Payton Kirkland couldn’t quite make it work with his schedule. But as the current dead period winds down, the 6-foot-5, 330-pound tackle from Dr. Phillips High School (Orlando, Florida) is making visiting Ohio State's campus a priority at the end of July. Kirkland, rated the No. 125 prospect for the class of 2023 nationally and the 11th-best tackle according to 247Sports’ composite rankings, told Eleven Warriors Wednesday he will be in Columbus from July 28-30.
“I’m excited to get to know the staff,” Kirkland said. “To see what type of people they are to be around and see how they interact with other players and stuff like that.”
Kirkland has accumulated 51 offers from schools so far and spent his June visiting Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Clemson, Florida State and UCF. While he has lived in Florida since he was 11 years old, Kirkland was born in Chicago and remembers how passionate football fans are in the Midwest.
“It was really all (Chicago) Bears and Ohio State growing up there,” Kirkland said of the teams he remembered following the most in his early life.
Kirkland called Ohio State one of his two dream schools, with Georgia being the other. Besides watching Buckeye games with his family, Kirkland grew up looking up to Ohio State legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer Orlando Pace and tries to mirror facets of his game. He’s also built a strong rapport with OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and running backs coach Tony Alford, who first presented Kirkland with his OSU offer on July 20, 2020.
“Ohio State was one of my dream schools growing up,” Kirkland said. “It would be a great opportunity.”
His connection to the Bulldogs stems from developing a strong relationship over the years with Georgia sophomore defensive lineman Jalen Carter. Before Kirkland was on varsity, he’d watch Carter, a former five-star prospect, play Friday nights in high school. The two remain extremely close-knit, as Carter calls Kirkland “little cousin.”
“I really look up to him,” Kirkland said.
At this point in his recruiting, Kirkland said there is no clear frontrunner, but he hopes to narrow his list down after this season and commit at some point in 2022.
“(I’m looking at) the opportunities for careers and internships, of course the depth chart, and I want to go somewhere where my family feels accepted,” Kirkland said of what priorities are important to him regarding his college decision.
Nichols includes OSU in Top 3
OSU also remains in the hunt for its top offensive line targets in the class of 2022.
Four-star offensive lineman Addison Nichols narrowed his recruitment down to three schools on Wednesday, keeping Ohio State in the running along with Tennessee and North Carolina.
This was an incredibly difficult decision narrowing this down. I just want to say thank you to all of the schools who werent selected and thank you for your interest in me. But, without further ado, this is my final top 3. #Top3 #blessed #Vols #Buckeyes #Tarheels pic.twitter.com/6YGUjVuW62— Addison H. Nichols (@ahnichols22) July 14, 2021
Heading into his senior season at Greater Atlanta Christian School (Norcross, Georgia), the 6-foot-5, 318-pound Nichols is the 103rd-ranked player and the third-ranked interior offensive lineman in the 2022 class. He took an official visit to Columbus on June 14 and also visited North Carolina and Tennessee in the same month. Nichols could play either tackle or guard in college.
Ohio State currently has two offensive line commits for the 2022 class, George Fitzpatrick and Tegra Tshabola, and remain heavily in on Earnest Greene, Kam Dewberry and Nichols. The Buckeyes are expected to sign four total offensive linemen in the 2022 class.
Kane sheds light on visit
Kane shared a little more about what he expects from his OSU recruitment this week. The 6-foot-1, 176-pound defensive back from New Jersey said he hasn’t spoken with any of OSU’s coaches yet, but believes he will be on a call with defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs “soon.” Kane, who plays both wide receiver and defensive back at Blair Academy but said he is being recruited as a cornerback, told Eleven Warriors he has not yet received an offer from the Buckeyes but hopes to either on the unofficial visit or later this fall.
Kane holds offers from Clemson, Boston College, Penn State, Purdue and Rutgers but says of those listed, he has only visited Rutgers this far, so he’s a long way from naming a frontrunner for his services.
“The deciding factor for me is where I feel I will be most successful at, whether it’s a bigger or smaller school,” Kane said.
As his recruiting process plays out, Kane said if all goes well he hopes to commit either next spring or July 20, 2022, in honor of his father’s birthday. Kane is not ranked in 247Sports’ composite rankings but is slotted at No. 298 in ESPN’s top 300 for the class of 2023.
Jordan commits to Texas
After keeping the Buckeyes in the running when he announced his top three schools, 2022 safety Austin Jordan elected to play for his hometown team instead and committed to Texas on Wednesday.
The fact the Denton, Texas, native didn’t pick Ohio State isn’t terribly surprising considering the Buckeyes already have five defensive backs committed so far for the class of 2022 –Jaheim Singletary, Jyaire Brown, Ryan Turner, Kye Stokes and Terrance Brooks – and are still recruiting four-star safeties Zion Branch and Xavier Nwankpa hard.