Happy Thanksgiving, Eleven Warriors readers.
‘Tis the season of giving thanks and all that jazz, and I’ve been thankful to be able to cover Ohio State football and recruiting for this website since this summer, the time has flown already.
We can all be thankful about various things in our lives, but when it comes to Ohio State recruiting, there’s plenty the Buckeyes should be grateful for as they take an hour (OK, maybe less) to take a break and eat before turning their focusing back to beating Michigan on Saturday.
So here’s a few things Ohio State should be thankful for in recruiting this holiday season.
Ohio State hasn’t lost to Michigan in nearly a decade
OK, fine, that doesn’t exactly have anything to do with recruiting, but it’s all anyone is thinking about this week, right? And even though the stakes Saturday are as high as they’ve been since 2016, does anyone really expect that streak to end? In a rivalry as historic and proud as this one, lengthy winning streaks like the one OSU is on shouldn’t be taken for granted, so live it all up, Buckeye fans.
The Buckeyes have already landed their top target in the 2023 class, and did so relatively early
Sonny Styles was an absolute must-get. An Ohio native, a perfect fit for Ohio State’s defense with his skill set that can allow him to be a safety/linebacker hybrid, a legacy recruit, one of the top 10 players in the 2023 recruiting class. He’s a recruit that OSU coaches absolutely would have been lamented for if they missed.
But they got him. What’s more, he was the third commit in the 2023 class, and his name carries such recognition in recruiting cycles that it can only help sway other recruits to join him at Ohio State. While Styles is soft-spoken by nature, he’s already adamant about his love for Ohio State and is openly recruiting other players to join him in Columbus.
Last weekend against Michigan State, he was side-by-side with four-star 2023 offensive tackle target Payton Kirkland the majority of the afternoon, and posted on social media that they were “two future Buckeyes” hanging out.
While his peer recruitment of Kirkland was very public, he’s also doing work behind the scenes. Four-star 2023 defensive end AJ Hoffler received an Ohio State offer last week, and the very next day Styles was messaging him on Twitter convincing him to come to OSU. In short, Ohio State has to be pretty thankful it landed Styles’ commitment right before the end of his junior season.
Speaking of Hoffler…
OSU continues to make an impression on recruiting Southern athletes
Ten to 15 years ago, Ohio State wasn’t making as much noise in Southern recruiting as the Buckeyes are doing in present day. Take the Atlanta-based Hoffler, for example. He’s lived in the South watching the SEC, yet he cried tears of happiness after receiving an offer from Ohio State last weekend. OSU was Hoffler’s dream school because of the school’s tradition and the presence of OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
The Buckeyes have turned into such a national brand, elite prospects in the South are paying attention. Take five-star 2023 cornerback AJ Harris, for example, who outside of 2023 offensive lineman Luke Montgomery may be the highest priority target remaining on the board for OSU with Styles already committed.
He hasn’t received much smoke to Ohio State from national writers recently. But I firmly believe OSU is in good standing with Harris as his commitment could be a few weeks away, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pick the Buckeyes when that day comes.
More standout 2022 defensive line recruits are coming
Some fans may look at Ohio State’s current 2022 defensive line commitments and see a lonely four-star defensive end Kenyatta Jackson Jr. standing there by himself, leaving wonder where the Buckeyes are going to fill out this unit after the thought was once they make take as many as five defensive linemen.
Nevertheless, reinforcements are on the way. The Buckeyes remain in good standing with Indiana resident Caden Curry, who has told Eleven Warriors he doesn’t want to make any decisions on his recruiting until after his high school season is over. Well, it’s coming to a close one way or the other Saturday, when Center Grove High School will play in the state championship game for a second straight season. He may decide to commit a week or two after that, and there’s no reason not to like where OSU stands with that.
The momentum has also seemingly shifted in a positive direction for the Buckeyes regarding four-star defensive tackle Hero Kanu. The German-born Kanu has visited OSU four times since June, the most of any school, and had a flurry of Crystal Ball predictions forecasted his way last week in the Buckeyes’ favor. Kanu plans to silently commit and sign during the early signing period, then publicly announce his decision in January at the All-American Bowl.
The trickiest one to pinpoint is Omari Abor, considering the Texas resident still seems to be high on the SEC (Texas A&M in particular), but the Buckeyes have as good a shot as any to reel in the five-star defensive end. If OSU can land Kanu, Curry and Abor to go along with Jackson Jr., who can complain about that?
OSU is still likely going to finish with a top-five class in 2022
Currently, the Buckeyes are sixth in 247Sports’ team composite rankings for the 2022 class with 16 commits in the fold. Ahead of them are Georgia (who has 23 commits), Alabama (19), Texas A&M (18), Notre Dame (23) and Penn State (25). More commits are on the way between now and February, which will only boost those rankings.
Despite losing five-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary, who flipped to Georgia, and having the top prospect in the class, Quinn Ewers, reclassify to 2021, Ohio State is still going to finish with a class that will be better than nearly all other schools in the country. Pretty impressive stuff.