The Hurry-Up: Will Smith Jr. Hearing More from Ohio State in Recent Weeks, Kayden McDonald Impresses with Seven-Sack Playoff Game

By Garrick Hodge on November 16, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Will Smith Jr.

When 2023 defensive tackle Will Smith Jr. took his first visit to Ohio Stadium as a recruit on Oct. 9 when the Buckeyes played Maryland, he told Eleven Warriors attending The Shoe as a prospective athlete is “a totally different vibe” than going as just a fan.

Smith Jr., the son of late Ohio State legend Will Smith, told Eleven Warriors after his October visit he probably wouldn’t be back to The Shoe as a recruit again this fall. That changed last weekend, as Smith Jr. attended OSU’s contest against Purdue for his second game day visit of the season.

The Buckeyes have increased their contact with the Dublin Coffman standout defensive tackle. After making the very short trip to OSU from his residence in Dublin, Smith Jr. spoke with assistant athletic director of player personnel Mark Pantoni and linebackers coach Al Washington, who is the primary recruiter for Smith Jr.

“The visit was awesome,” Smith Jr. said. “I keep in touch with (Mark) Pantoni and coach (Al) Washington so it was good to see them and get a chance to talk with them again in person. I keep in touch with (defensive line coach Larry) Johnson too. Overall, I’ve been in contact with them a lot more the past few weeks. Touring the facility and getting to see my dad throughout the building was a highlight.”

The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Smith Jr. still has not received an offer from the Buckeyes, but has been told by Johnson that Ohio State would like to see him put on 15 pounds by the start of his senior year. Smith Jr. only had two offers when he first visited OSU on Oct. 9, Marshall and Miami (Ohio), but has since picked up scholarship offers from Illinois, Duke and West Virginia.  

“As far as my recruiting in general, I’m just grateful for every offer I’ve gotten,” Smith Jr. said.

McDonald has seven-sack playoff game

Something pretty insane happened last weekend. If some defensive linemen get seven sacks in a high school season, it’s considered a great year. But Ohio State 2023 defensive tackle target Kayden McDonald had seven sacks in a single game, and a playoff game at that, in North Gwinnett’s (Suwanee, Georgia) 29-15 victory. If that high school sounds familiar, it's because that's where Ohio State freshman cornerback Jordan Hancock attended.

McDonald’s performance was so impressive that Garrett Wilson took notice and told Hancock to make a recruiting pitch to his former prep teammate. 

McDonald, a four-star defensive tackle ranked as the 225th-best player and the 34th-best defensive lineman in the 2023 class per 247Sports’ composite rankings, visited Ohio State on Oct. 30 when the Buckeyes played Penn State. He was offered by Ohio State in September.

Tabaracci cancels visit

Ohio State’s options for taking a third linebacker in the 2022 class appear to be growing slimmer. Carson Tabaracci, who received an offer from the Buckeyes this summer, was scheduled to take an official visit to Columbus this weekend but canceled it early this week, per Lettermen Row’s Jeremy Birmingham

Tabaracci camped at Ohio State in June and is a three-star linebacker ranked as the 558th-best player in the 2022 cycle.

With C.J. Hicks and Gabe Powers already in the fold for 2022, OSU doesn’t necessarily need to sign another linebacker. However, the Buckeyes would like to add a third linebacker if possible and have an offer out to fast rising Chicago-based linebacker Jimmy Rolder. Rolder hopes to make an official visit to Columbus at some point this fall, but has picked up a plethora of offers from premier schools over the past month. It may be Rolder or bust if Ohio State is going to add another linebacker from the prep ranks in the 2022 recruiting class.

Rolder, who went from zero to four stars in the blink of an eye, is ranked as the 329th-best player and the 35th-best linebacker in the 2022 class.

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