A four-star 2023 defensive end from Georgia will be making his way to Ohio State for next weekend’s Michigan State game.
AJ Hoffler, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound standout for Woodward Academy (Atlanta, Georgia), currently holds more than 30 Division I offers, an offer sheet that includes Michigan, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Nebraska, Auburn and Arkansas. But he has yet to receive one from the school he has his eyes on the most: Ohio State.
For now, just visiting Columbus is something Hoffler is relishing.
“I’m really excited, that’s my dream school,” Hoffler told Eleven Warriors. “I can’t wait to get up to The Shoe and find out what it’s like on a game day and get to meet (Ohio State defensive line coach Larry) Johnson and coach Ryan Day.”
It seems a little odd that someone from Atlanta would call OSU a dream school instead of Georgia or another Southern school. But Hoffler insists it’s true.
“It’s because of what coach Johnson has been able to produce and the amount of players he’s been able to produce,” he said. “The success that Ohio State’s been able to have on the field and the academics they have off the field.”
OSU first got in contact with Hoffler two-and-a-half months ago when OSU defensive line graduate assistant Nick Sebastian reached out to Hoffler on Twitter. OSU linebackers coach Al Washington followed suit by attending one of Hoffler’s practices.
“He said he liked me a lot,” Hoffler said of his discussion with Washington.
Then around two weeks ago, Johnson called Hoffler for the first time, as did Assistant Athletic Director for Player Personnel Mark Pantoni.
“He just called me really quick and said he liked my film and that he just wants to get to know me more and see if I fit in the program and the locker room before they make the offer,” Hoffler said of his conversation with Johnson.
Hoffler said the Buckeyes are primarily recruiting him as a defensive end and haven’t spoken about him about the possibility of playing outside linebacker. When Hoffler arrives in Columbus, he hopes to look at Ohio State’s academic buildings as well, as he plans on majoring in business. Of course, the football aspect of his business will be a big priority.
“I’ll be looking for what it’s like to be there on a game day, what the campus is like, how the coaches are in person, how they coach, how the team acts on a normal basis in the locker room, are they guys I want to be around or not be around,” Hoffler said.
Even though his relationship building with OSU’s staff is in the infancy stages, Hoffler is holding out hope the Buckeyes will continue to show interest. Per 247Sports’ composite rankings, Hoffler is the 260th-ranked overall prospect and the 42nd-best defensive lineman in the 2023 cycle. In nine games this season, Hoffler has a team-high eight sacks, six quarterback hurries and 42 tackles (four for loss).
“That would be my dream offer, so it would be pretty big,” Hoffler said of the possibility of getting an offer from Ohio State. “I’ve been praying about it, that’s what I’ve been working for, to get an offer from them. It would be pretty big to me.”
Hoffler has also visited Auburn, Georgia and Kansas State, partly to watch his brother, who’s a defensive end for Kansas State. He has a timetable for a commitment in mind, but it’s subject to change.
“I’m thinking right now, my birthday, Aug. 9 of next year,” Hoffler said. “But I’m not sure, I may commit a little before. But as of now, that’s my plan.”
2023 recruits tease on Twitter
In the heart of recruiting season, some priority 2023 targets sure stirred up portions of various fan bases on Thursday.
What you thinking? @zachariahb03— Carnell Tate (@carnelltate_) November 11, 2021
we on the same page https://t.co/SKWiZlazsK— Zachariah Branch (@zachariahb03) November 12, 2021
Tate, who visited Ohio State for the Penn State game on Oct. 30, is expected to come back to Columbus next week for the Michigan State game. Branch, who was also at the Penn State game with his older brother and 2022 safety target Zion Branch, will visit USC with Zion later this month.
Ohio State’s most recent commit in the 2023 class did his part to recruit the talent wideouts.
Kanu to visit USC
It was thought that 2022 defensive tackle target Hero Kanu was done with his visits when he canceled his LSU visit scheduled for this weekend after the firing of Ed Orgeron. Instead, Kanu will take one more visit, to USC, the 6-foot-5, 293-pound standout told 247Sports.
“I’m done with official visits, but I’m going to visit USC this weekend after my game,” Kanu told 247Sports. “I’m going with my family, my mom and my sister. That will be it most likely.”
Kanu, who plays at Santa Margarita Catholic High School just about an hour away from USC, plans on spending the next few weeks deciding between OSU, Georgia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and apparently USC. He will sign in December in time for the early signing period, but it will be a silent signing and he will reveal his destination at the All-American Bowl in January.
Kanu visited Ohio State for the Penn State game on Oct. 30.