Wednesday is the first day coaches across the country are legally allowed to contact 2023 recruits directly and engage in recruiting-related conversations.
Some prospects hear from prospective coaching staffs right away at midnight. Others later in the day. Of course, some don’t at all until later down the road.
Ohio State’s coaching staff will certainly be working the phones Wednesday, so a natural question comes to mind: Who are the priority targets in the 2023 class the Buckeyes will reach out to immediately? We’ve picked a few names, in no particular order.
Before we start, a quick disclaimer: Obviously, Ohio State’s staff is going to contact a ton of 2023 recruits, and the number will probably be absurdly high. This isn’t intended to be an all-inclusive list of every single target Ohio State will reach out to. It’s about establishing which juniors have turned into such a priority, we’d be stunned to find out they were not contacted right away by the Buckeyes.
Ty Lockwood, tight end
Unsurprisingly, Ohio State reached out to its lone commit of the 2023 cycle right away on Wednesday morning:
GO BUCKS pic.twitter.com/TPjvm13DeP— Ty Lockwood (@TyLockwood7) September 1, 2021
It’s hard to imagine the Thompson’s Station, Tennessee resident didn’t also have a text message from OSU offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson in his inbox at midnight.
Lockwood is firmly committed to the Buckeyes, and OSU offensive line target Luke Montgomery said last month that Lockwood and his father are already trying to convince him to join Ohio State. Pretty good guy to have in the fold early.
Luke Montgomery, offensive line
Well, guess I kind of spoiled that one, eh? The No. 3 prospect in the state of Ohio should certainly get a call from Ohio State on Wednesday, as the Buckeyes have made no secret about their desire to add the Findlay High School product to their offensive line since they offered him in February.
As of now, it’s believed Ohio State is the front runner for the 6-foot-5, 260-pound lineman, who is rated the 59th-best prospect in the class per 247Sports’ composite rankings. Montgomery has already visited Ohio State three times over the summer and plans to attend two OSU home games: The Sept. 11 home opener against Oregon and the Oct. 30 game against Penn State. Montgomery also said in August he expected to receive plenty of calls from offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and other OSU coaches once Sept. 1 rolled around.
Carnell Tate, wide receiver
It would be pretty silly not to contact a guy that’s your top priority wideout in the 2023 cycle five weeks before his commitment announcement is planned, so Tate makes the list. Of course, you may remember the 6-foot-2, 185-pound wide receiver catching two touchdowns on Sunday when he played against a school sketchy enough that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine eventually ordered the online-only Bishop Sycamore to be investigated two days later.
Tate has already been in communication with OSU coaches, as that’s where he got the advice to throw up an O-H signal in Canton over the weekend. Ryan Day personally wished him luck when they talked last week ahead of the game. But now that the Buckeyes can contact Tate whenever they want, and considering they’re essentially in a battle with Notre Dame for his commitment and Tate will not visit Columbus again before his Oct. 8 announcement, you can bet they’re going to have him on speed dial.
Sonny Styles, safety/linebacker
Styles is the No. 1 recruit in all of Ohio, the No. 1 safety in 2023, the No. 8 prospect in the country and arguably the No. 1 priority recruit for the Buckeyes in the entire class. Add in that his dad Lorenzo Styles played linebacker for Ohio State, and it’s not hard to figure out why the five-star Styles is on this list. Styles plans to attend the Buckeyes’ game against Oregon and it's a good bet OSU is going to do whatever it can to keep in touch with him all the way up to whenever Styles sets a commitment date.
AJ Harris, cornerback
There are five five-star cornerbacks in the 2023 class. The Buckeyes have offers out to three of them: Cormani McClain, Tony Mitchell and Harris. Of those mentioned, Ohio State’s best shot at landing one is easily Harris.
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Phenix City, Alabama resident once told Eleven Warriors he’d consider committing at the end of July. That didn’t happen, but it’s still well-known that Harris would like to commit sooner rather than later, preferably by the end of his junior season. After originally planning to attend the Oregon game, Harris changed his visit to the Oct. 9 game against Maryland due to a scheduling conflict. Considering Ohio State will have to fend off southern schools such as Alabama, Georgia and Clemson to land its most coveted defensive back prospect for 2023, the Buckeyes will be in contact with Harris early and often.
Kadyn Proctor, offensive tackle
Ohio State is always searching for true offensive tackle prospects. Proctor is the crown jewel of the 2023 tackle corps, slotting in at No. 5 nationally and No. 1 at the position. There is no more important offensive lineman priority in the cycle than Proctor, and I expect the Buckeyes to let the Des Moines, Iowa resident know that often. Proctor has said he hopes to attend an OSU game sometime this fall, though which one is uncertain. OSU is also recruiting Proctor’s high school teammate, 2022 safety Xavier Nwankpa, so if the Buckeyes have their way, they’ll land two Southeast Polk High School players in consecutive classes.
Richard Young, running back
OSU would be happy landing any of their primary running back targets in Young, Reuben Owens or Justice Haynes. But Young is truly a game-changer, boasting explosive agility with a 6-foot, 190-pound frame that also makes him a weapon in between the tackles, which makes him the No. 1 running back in the class. Young visited the Buckeyes twice this summer, and although he has no set commitment date, OSU will continue to be aggressive in Young’s recruitment.
Troy Bowles, linebacker
One of the most impressive linebackers to camp at Ohio State in June, Bowles will be a top priority for the Buckeyes at linebacker in the class. OSU is appealing for the 6-foot-1, 206-pound Bowles, who has said in the past he hopes to either attend the Oregon or Penn State game this fall.
Lebbeus Overton, defensive lineman
All you need to know about what Ohio State thinks of Overton is simple. He was the first recruit the Buckeyes hosted on Columbus during the July on-campus recruiting period. The second-raned prospect in the nation might also be Larry Johnson’s first call on Wednesday. Johnson, who is almost universally respected by defensive line recruits and their families, did some of his finest work by landing Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau for the 2021 class. Securing the five-star Overton away from Southern schools would be his next great trick.
Every QB they’ve offered in 2023
You can bet Dante Moore, Nicholaus Iamaleava and Dylan Lonergan will be hearing from Ohio State on Wednesday. With the future of the quarterback position all sorts of murky after Quinn Ewers reclassified from 2022 to 2021, Ryan Day and his staff are going to want to get a head start on developing any kind of rapport with 2023 quarterbacks that they can, considering the need for a stud in the class seems more urgent than it did a month ago.