The Hurry-Up: 2024 Defensive End Nigel Smith Says Ohio State's Coaching Staff is “Top-Notch”

By Garrick Hodge on November 23, 2021 at 5:30 pm
Nigel Smith

An emerging Ohio State defensive line target in the 2024 class just took his first visit to Columbus last weekend.

Nigel Smith, ranked as the 19th-best player in the 2024 cycle per 247Sports’ composite rankings, first heard from Ohio State a few months ago after director of high school relations Ed Terwilliger reached out via mail. 

Smith, a Texas resident, has been following OSU more closely since then. His visit to Columbus for Saturday’s game against Michigan State lived up to his expectations. He does not yet hold an Ohio State offer, but that could change in the coming months.

“The visit went great,” Smith said. “We got there right as the game started, but you could hear that game from far away, it was a packed stadium. That was a great game day environment. The fans were great and obviously it was a huge win.” 

The Texas resident was impressed with the defensive line, complimenting their ability to swat passes at the line and disrupt the passing game. He also met with current Ohio State defensive lineman Javontae Jean-Baptiste, who told him how beneficial it is to be coached by OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

“We were making conversation and he told me he’s a great coach,” Smith said. 

Smith experienced Johnson’s wisdom firsthand on Sunday when he spent 20 minutes with Johnson breaking down Smith’s high school film. 

“That was awesome,” he said. “Just being able to do that, he saw things I didn’t even know or didn’t even notice. It shows how smart and how good of a coach he is … One of the biggest things when I’m picking a college will be the coaching there and who can get me to that next level. That coaching is A1 down there. That was one of my biggest things. Obviously every college will have nice facilities and things like that, so my biggest thing will be the players I’m around and that coaching staff which is top-notch.” 

While in the film breakdown, Johnson gave Smith a preview of what he could expect if he becomes a Buckeye one day. 

“He said he wants to develop me as an edge and he sees me as that,” Smith said. “But I’ll also play a little three in pass rush sets when pass rushers are really needed, because he thinks I can pass rush from anywhere on the line.” 

In addition to getting a tour of the facilities and the campus, Smith had a brief meeting with Ryan Day on Sunday. 

“I talked to coach Day and had a meeting with him,” Smith said. “This is Michigan week for them so obviously they’re really busy with that, but I met with coach Day and he said he’s really excited to have me up there and wants to have me up there as many times as possible. He said he thinks I’m a great player and they’ll be recruiting me as much as they can.” 

Smith has four Division I offers, but two are massive: LSU and Notre Dame. Getting one from Ohio State would be meaningful for the 6-foot-4, 245-pound standout from Melissa High School.

“That would be great and really awesome to have one of the best programs in the nation to pull the trigger,” Smith told Eleven Warriors

This was Smith’s fourth visit this fall, as he’s visited Notre Dame, Rutgers and Texas as well. 

McClellan commits to Florida

The mystery is finally over. On Tuesday, 2022 Ohio State four-star defensive line target Chris McClellan committed to Florida.

He chose from a group of six finalists that also included Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC. McClellan chose Florida even though Dan Mullen was fired just two days ago.

McClellan is ranked as the 101st-best prospect and the 18th-best defensive lineman in the 2022 class. Four-star defensive end Kenyatta Jackson Jr. is Ohio State’s only current defensive line commit for the 2022 cycle, while the Buckeyes remain in hot pursuit of Caden Curry, Hero Kanu, Omari Abor and Christen Miller. Things look to be in good shape on the Kanu front after three 247Sports experts put in Crystal Ball projections on Monday that Kanu will choose Ohio State.

Armella leaves OSU out of top four

A four-star 2023 offensive lineman with an Ohio State offer is headed elsewhere. 

Julian Armella, a standout offensive lineman from Florida, released a top four on Monday that did not include the Buckeyes, narrowing his final four schools to Alabama, Florida, Florida State and LSU. 

Armella is ranked as the 127th-best prospect and the fifth-best interior offensive lineman in the 2023 class.

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