Prep Tracker: 2022 Ohio State Targets Xavier Nwankpa, Kenyatta Jackson Jr. Deliver Big Performances

By Garrick Hodge on August 29, 2021 at 11:30 am
Xavier Nwankpa
Xavier Nwankpa

Another week of high school games brought another week of standout performances from Ohio State commits/targets worthy of being included in our Prep Tracker. 

A quick programming note: Eleven Warriors staff members plan to be in attendance at today’s matchup between IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida) and Columbus’ Bishop Sycamore at 1:30 p.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. The game will be televised on ESPN and features six uncommitted IMG Academy targets in various classes with Ohio State offers, Those athletes include Dominick James (defensive tackle in 2022 class), Carnell Tate (2023 wide receiver) Joenel Aguero (2023 safety), Malik Bryant (2023 defensive end/linebacker), James Smith (2023 defensive lineman) and Stacy Gage (2024 running back).

Meanwhile, numerous other Ohio State targets in the 2022 and 2023 classes had standout performances over the weekend, and we've rounded up some of the best highlights below.

Nwankpa catches clutch Hail Mary

We’d be remiss if we didn’t start the prep tracker with Ohio State 2022 target Xavier Nwankpa. 

While the Buckeyes are recruiting the four-star Nwankpa as a safety, the two-way player shined his brightest on the offensive end Friday night. In a matchup between the highest-ranked teams in Iowa, Nwankpa clinched a 13-7 season-opening win for Southeast Polk High School (Altoona, Iowa) over Dowling Catholic (West Des Moines, Iowa) on a last-second 38-yard Hail Mary catch. 

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior had four receptions for 81 yards and Southeast Polk’s only two touchdowns of the night, while also picking off a pass on the defensive end. 

For those interested, the Des Moines Register had a pretty good recap of Nwankpa’s big opening night. After his standout performance, it’s easy to see why he, along with Zion Branch, is such a priority safety target for the Buckeyes to round out the current recruiting class. 

Nwankpa is rated the best player in Iowa in the 2022 recruiting class as the No. 45 overall prospect and third-best safety nationally per 247Sports’ composite rankings.

Jackson Jr. racks up four sacks 

It’s hard to imagine four-star 2022 defensive lineman Kenyatta Jackson Jr. having a better performance than he did in Chaminade-Madonna’s (Hollywood, Florida) 30-13 victory over Western (Davie, Florida). Jackson Jr. finished the night with four sacks en route to helping his team to a 2-0 start. Here’s one of Jackson Jr.’s four sacks. 

Jackson Jr.’s father, Kenyatta Jackson Sr., told Eleven Warriors earlier this month his son is down to Oklahoma and Ohio State, with it being a 50-50 decision. The 78th-best player and seventh-best edge rusher in the 2022 cycle has plans to visit both Oklahoma and OSU this fall. 

Burton scores TD in opener 

After suffering a season-ending injury in 2020 and transferring from Del Valle to Lake Travis (Austin, Texas) this offseason, Ohio State 2022 wide receiver commit Caleb Burton III caught a 41-yard touchdown pass on a nifty trick play in the Cavaliers’ 40-28 season-opening win over Arlington Martin (Arlington, Texas).

The best of the rest

  • It wasn’t a good night for wide receivers going against Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Georgia) 2023 four-star cornerback Kayin Lee on Friday night. The standout cornerback laid down a massive hit to a receiver trying to catch a pass in his team’s 52-10 victory.
  • In case you missed it from Thursday, Richard Young, the No. 1 running back in the class of 2023, went bananas in Lehigh Senior High School’s (Lehigh Acres, Florida) 28-22 victory over North Fort Myers. The Ohio State target had 21 carries for 282 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, including 205 yards in the first half alone.
  • One of Ohio State's top 2023 running back targets, Rueben Owens, led the charge for El Campo High School (El Campo, Texas) in the Ricebirds’ 56-34 victory Friday. Owens, a five-star running back and the second-highest rated back in the class, finished with 174 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the win. 
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