Five Things to Watch As Ohio State Prepares for Massive Recruiting Weekend

By Garrick Hodge on March 31, 2022 at 10:25 am
Brandon Inniss

A star-studded recruiting weekend is coming to Ohio State this week.

Priority recruits from both the 2023 and 2024 classes will be on campus, and there are no shortage of five and four-star players expected to be in Columbus. With such a big weekend on tap, let’s delve into some of the top storylines that could play out. Spoiler alert: Most of them have to do with athletes from Florida. 

Red carpet expected for five-stars Inniss, Tate, McClain

The front-page headline from this weekend is the visits from Florida five-star 2023 wideouts Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate, plus five-star Florida 2023 cornerback Cormani McClain

Inniss last visited Ohio State last summer before committing to Oklahoma in August. The 6-foot, 190-pound wide receiver decommitted from Oklahoma in late November once Lincoln Riley left to take the USC job.

Saturday will be Ohio State’s biggest chance to make an impression on the No. 1-rated wideout in the 2023 class since his decommitment, and he’ll be visiting with plenty of teammates from his seven-on-seven team in Florida, South Florida Express, a team Tate and McClain also play on.

While OSU is going to have plenty of competition from the likes of USC, Inniss’ commitment seems more attainable this time around. But this weekend will be crucial to Ohio State’s chances. The reason OSU even has a fighting chance to land the premier talent is the relationship he’s built with Buckeyes wide receivers coach Brian Hartline.

“Coach Hartline is like no other coach," Inniss told Eleven Warriors at the All-American Bowl in January. "He breaks down the game to you in a way that no other coach will. It’s amazing to see what their receivers do in and out every single year.”

Tate is the likeliest of the aforementioned trio to play for OSU, with the Buckeyes considered the frontrunner to land him, though that’s far from guaranteed. Hartline and company will have to continue to fend off Notre Dame, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia until the end. 

McClain’s recruitment is likely going to go the distance into December, so Ohio State hopes getting him on campus this weekend will be a precursor to landing one of McClain’s official visits later this summer. The 6-foot-1, 165-pound McClain is likely Ohio State’s No. 2 target at cornerback in the 2023 class behind AJ Harris, though recent Georgia decommit Kayin Lee could also be in that discussion. 

Don’t forget about the 2024 wideouts either

Two big playmakers from South Florida Express from the 2024 class will also in Columbus: Five-star wide receivers Jeremiah Smith and Joshisa Trader.

Smith has taken several visits to OSU and has constantly flirted with the Buckeyes on social media. If all goes well over the next few weeks, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see the Buckeyes continue to surge with momentum in Smith’s recruitment. 

Trader, who On3 ranks as the top prospect in the entire 2024 class, will also make the trip to OSU this weekend. OSU will have plenty of competition for Trader, such as Miami and Alabama. 

Can Ohio State get in the race for premier QBs in the 2023 and 2024 classes? 

After visiting presumed favorite Notre Dame earlier in the week, five-star Michigan 2023 signal caller Dante Moore will visit Ohio State this weekend. It can only help that Moore will be taking the visit on the same weekend Tate will be in attendance, as the two are close friends. It will be Moore’s first trip to Ohio State since he attended the Penn State game in late October. 

Considering the quarterback succession plan in 2023 seems to be the winner of an eventual quarterback competition between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown, any 2023 quarterback would have his hands full trying to claim the starting job early in his career. But Moore told Eleven Warriors in January at the All-American Bowl he wouldn’t be scared off by a quarterback competition.

“If I do make a decision to go there, it would be great to compete, I love competing,” Moore said. “They always have a great quarterback room, one of the top quarterback rooms in the country, most definitely.” 

OSU has a much better chance to land a top quarterback recruit in the 2024 class, and one of its top targets that fits that billing is also expected to be in Columbus this weekend: five-star Arizona quarterback Dylan Raiola. Raiola made his first visit to Ohio State for the Penn State game, where he received his Buckeyes offer. Considering his West Coast upbringing, he seems to be a prime target for Riley at USC, but the other usual suspects can’t be discounted to battle OSU for the top-tier talent that is Raiola. 

Hawkins returns to Columbus

Considering so many Floridians and South Florida Express players will be on campus soon, it’s a good thing Ohio State already has a commitment in the fold for the 2023 class that fits both of those labels: four-star Florida safety Cedrick Hawkins

Hawkins, who famously committed to Ohio State during the second quarter of the Rose Bowl, will be on campus and will have an opportunity to show his peers why he picked the Buckeyes in the first place. 

Other big-time recruits will merit plenty of attention 

We’ve already talked about four five-star wide receivers thus far, so what’s one more? Texas 2023 wideout Jalen Hale will also be in Columbus on Saturday and has told 247Sports he’s already planning on a future official visit to Ohio State, giving Hartline another top target at the position.

Meanwhile, a pair of four-star 2023 Florida running backs will make the trek to Columbus: Cedric Baxter Jr. and Mark Fletcher. While Ohio State’s top target in this cycle is No. 1 running back Richard Young, the Buckeyes would prefer to take two running backs, and would love to add a back of either Baxter or Fletcher’s caliber. 

Four-star 2023 safety Daemon Fagan will take an unofficial visit to OSU this weekend and has already locked in an official visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ Nov. 3 season opener. He maintains a close relationship with OSU safeties coach Perry Eliano. His South Florida Express teammate, four-star 2023 cornerback Sharif Denson, plans to join Fagan on the visit. 

“We’re really tight, especially considering he came from Cincinnati and that was my top school all because of him,” Fagan told Eleven Warriors earlier this month. “That coaching change was actually really in my favor and I’m kind of really happy it happened. (Eliano) keeps it real with me. He’s continuing the conversation, not promising me anything or selling me any dream.”  

After getting an offer from Ohio State in late January, four-star 2023 Georgia defensive lineman Darron Reed will also be among Ohio State’s expected visitors.

Three-star 2023 Texas linebacker S’Maje Burrell may not have the same recruiting prowess that other recruits mentioned in this article do, but he has spoken with Jim Knowles numerous times and is a legit option for the Buckeyes.

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