We’re less than two weeks away from the early signing period.
With 17 players currently committed to Ohio State, there will likely be more additions to OSU’s recruiting class between now and then, and possibly a few more after that. With Ohio State getting some extra time to recruit this week after the Michigan loss, Buckeyes coaches hit the road for in-home visits this week to ensure OSU remains in good standing with its top targets. More visits to prospects will continue next week, as well.
Where should OSU’s priorities be with not much time remaining on the calendar? Below, we take a look at the top uncommitted prospects Ohio State will continue recruiting aggressively between now and Dec. 15, the first day of the early signing period.
First, a disclaimer: this one may be slipping away with Lincoln Riley now in charge of USC and bringing stability to a program that needed it badly. All the momentum the Buckeyes gained with Branch during USC’s vacancy has seemingly halted, with Branch receiving four Crystal Ball projections in favor of USC this week. Much of OSU’s momentum with Branch was caused by the lack of clarity regarding USC, which is obviously no longer the case, as it had seemed USC was where Branch’s heart has been for a few months.
That hasn’t stopped Ohio State from trying, though, as Buckeyes wide receivers coach Brian Hartline and defensive backs coach Matt Barnes visited Branch this week for an in-home visit.
Ryan Day also plans to visit to visit Branch personally next week. If the Buckeyes are going to go down, they're going to go down swinging.
There is no higher priority on the defensive line in the 2022 class than landing the Indiana-based Curry, who’s ranked as the 79th-best prospect in the current cycle per 247Sports’ composite rankings. Curry is also probably the likeliest of this list to commit to Ohio State.
When Eleven Warriors visited Curry at Center Grove High School (Greenville, Indiana) in October, he said he would not make a decision on his college commitment until his prep season concluded. Well, Curry and the Trojans won their second straight state championship with a 27-21 win over Westfield Saturday to cap a perfect 14-0 season and a 28-0 run over the last two years.
With his high school career now over, Curry could announce his college choice within the next week or two before the early signing period. Even though the Buckeyes are in good standing with the talented defensive linemen, they’re determined to keep it that way and had an in-home visit with Curry on Thursday.
Similar to Curry, it’s imperative to land a defensive tackle of Kanu’s caliber, considering Ohio State only has one current defensive line commitment in the class: four-star Florida pass rusher Kenyatta Jackson Jr.
Larry Johnson and Ryan Day both made the trip to California on Tuesday to visit the 92nd-ranked player in the 2022 cycle.
Kanu has visited Columbus four times since this summer. He’s recently received a flurry of Crystal Ball projections in the Buckeyes’ direction. There’s clearly a lot of mutual interest between Kanu and Ohio State.
The biggest competition seemed to be Oklahoma, which may now shift to USC with Riley headed there. But Kanu isn’t a normal California prospect, considering he was born and raised in Germany. It’s not a foregone conclusion Kanu joins the Buckeyes, but OSU just has to seal the deal over the next two weeks. While Kanu may silently commit before the early signing period, the public won't know his decision until he announces it at the All-American Bowl in January.
Earnest Greene/Carson Hinzman
As long as the Buckeyes get one of these two offensive linemen to make it four commits total, everything should work out fine for OSU’s offensive line recruiting class of 2022. It’s hard to truly know where OSU stands with either, though.
Greene seems like he could be favoring Georgia or Alabama and is attending Saturday's SEC Championship Game between the two. That didn't stop Day from making a trip to see Greene in California on Tuesday, though.
Where Hinzman is concerned, it always seems to be a fool’s errand trying to pull Wisconsin linemen out of Wisconsin. If Hinzman commits to OSU, he'd be only the third Wisconsin-based player ever to play for Ohio State.
But Hinzman seems genuinely torn between the Badgers and the Buckeyes, and seemingly no one knows what he’s going to do. OSU offensive line coach Greg Studrawa visited Hinzman in Wisconsin on Wednesday, seemingly making one last push for the seventh-best interior lineman in the 2022 class.
It would be fair to say Ohio State is the favorite for both defensive talents Curry and Kanu. The same cannot currently be said for Nwnakpa, a four-star safety from Iowa. Most in recruiting circles believe Nwankpa is leaning toward his hometown Iowa Hawkeyes, with OSU a close second. Notre Dame was already falling behind before Brian Kelly left for LSU, and now it’s seemingly an afterthought.
Nwankpa makes this list for two reasons. One, his planned decision date is Dec. 8, so it’s only a few days away. Two, missing out on both Branch and Nwankpa would leave a hole to fill at safety, although there have been rumblings that 2023 five-star safety Sonny Styles could reclassify to 2022. If nothing else, the Buckeyes could run back this year's current group of safeties with a healthy Josh Proctor, as Ohio State could bring back the rest of its safety roster from this year with the exception of Marcus Williamson.
The Buckeyes made an in-home visit to Nwankpa on Wednesday and will be crossing their fingers they can land the 42nd-ranked player in the 2022 cycle.
Honorable Mention: Omari Abor
Abor goes into the honorable mention category because while it will be tremendous if Ohio State can land a five-star defensive end of his caliber, missing on him wouldn’t be the end of the world with 2021 five-stars J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer already in the fold and another premier pass-rusher already committed in Jackson Jr.
Still, as Ohio State’s most recent game showed, you can never have too many capable defensive linemen, and OSU still appears to be the favorite for Abor, although Texas A&M could be lurking.