Will Smith Jr. had already been to Ohio Stadium several times when he was younger.
But Saturday was different. It was the first time the 2023 Dublin Coffman defensive tackle/defensive end stepped foot on campus as a recruit.
“It’s just a whole different vibe,” Smith Jr. told Eleven Warriors Sunday. “Because you get to actually see and picture yourself playing for these people. You have to like picture being coached by these coaches that you meet.”
Smith Jr. talked to three Buckeyes coaches on Saturday: defensive line coach Larry Johnson, Ryan Day and linebackers coach Al Washington. Johnson told the 6-foot-3, 250-pound athlete he sees him as a defensive tackle at the next level, so he wants him to add 15 pounds to his frame by the start of his senior year. Day kept it short and sweet by telling him to keep working hard, while Washington related to Smith Jr. by telling him he also lives in the Dublin area and that he thought his father, the late Will Smith who was a star for both Ohio State and the New Orleans Saints, was “a great dude.”
While on his visit, Smith Jr. was invited into a room with the current OSU players, where he watched the team’s hype video with the current Buckeyes. Smith Jr. said that was his favorite part of the trip. As for the game itself, Smith Jr. was impressed by what he saw, both from an on-field and atmosphere perspective.
Surreal experience to watch @OhioStateFB as a recruit and lots of good memories in this stadium. Thank you @markpantoni @etwill21 @ryandaytime @CoachJoeBolden @R2X_Rushmen1 @CoachWash56 and congrats on the dub! pic.twitter.com/m09Dh6lwNd— Will Smith (@iwillsmithjr) October 9, 2021
“It was awesome,” Smith junior said. “I haven’t been there in a couple years, but it was so loud. There were so many fans there … The (defensive line) played really well. I was watching Zach Harrison, I thought he had a really good game.”
To this point, Smith Jr. has two Division I offers, those coming from Marshall and Miami (Ohio), and does not yet have a 247Sports composite ranking. But with his length and quickness, he could turn into one of Ohio’s best prospects by the time he’s a senior.
Smith Jr. has now visited Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue and Marshall this fall, and also plans to attend games at West Virginia and Miami (Ohio).
While he doesn’t intend to make another recruiting visit to OSU this fall, he hasn’t ruled out coming back to The Shoe to just attend a game as a fan if he feels compelled later in the season.
Brown picks up OSU offer
Jayvant Brown, a four-star linebacker in the class of 2023, visited Columbus last weekend to watch the Buckeyes’ victory over Maryland. He left with an offer from Ohio State and Washington on Sunday evening.
Brown, a 6-foot, 220-pound linebacker from Florida, is the 102nd-best player and the eighth-best linebacker in the 2023 cycle, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. To this point, he has 17 Division I offers, including Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Penn State and Florida.
Brown becomes the eighth linebacker OSU has offered in the 2023 cycle. Tight end Ty Lockwood is OSU’s only commitment in the 2023 class thus far.
Rice to commit Oct. 21
The top rated offensive tackle in the class of 2022 has a decision date.
Zach Rice, a five-star recruit from Virginia, will announce his commitment on Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
October 21st @ Liberty Christian Gymnasium 7:30 ! I ask for no interviews at this moment pic.twitter.com/dzi3htvyT5— ZACH RICE (@od_zach) October 9, 2021
Rice, who is ranked as the seventh-best overall prospect in the class, has narrowed his decision down to five schools: Alabama, Notre Dame, Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio State.
His mother, Mary Rice, told 247Sports Rice’s mind is made up. Rice himself said he’ll be happy to have his decision out of the way.
“It wasn't that hard of a decision at the end of the day,” Rice told 247Sports. “I'm early graduating so that was the two biggest things. I don't have that much time.”
Rice has attended games at both Virginia and North Carolina this fall and visited both multiple times over the summer. He took an official visit to Ohio State in early June. There are currently no Crystal Ball projections for Rice, so it’s a little difficult to pinpoint where he stands, although there hasn’t been much chatter connecting him to Ohio State recently.