One of Ohio State’s priority targets for the 2023 class is set to make a decision.
Four-star Ohio safety Malik Hartford will announce his commitment Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at Lakota West High School.
Commitment coming April 6 at 3:30 pm est It will be held at Lakota West and streaming on CBS Sports. All are welcome! If you have any question please DM @LakotaWestFB #AGTG #crownme— Malik Hartford (@MalikHartford) March 31, 2022
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Hartford will choose from a list of seven finalists that consists of Ohio State, Cincinnati, Michigan, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan State. Less than a week before Hartford tells the world his decision, the Buckeyes are in great shape to land the 154th-ranked player and the 11th-best safety in the 2023 class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Hartford received his Ohio State offer while making an unofficial visit to Columbus on Jan. 22. The Buckeyes have since risen quickly in Hartford’s recruitment, in large part because of his relationship with OSU safeties coach Perry Eliano, who was Hartford's lead recruiter when he coached at Cincinnati.
"I'm just more comfortable around (Ohio State) and I'm learning their scheme," Hartford told Eleven Warriors about Ohio State at the Under Armour Next camp on March 20. "Coach Eliano is a great coach and the overall program (is great). It's a top three program in the country. They're always good."
Hartford has also spoken numerous times with defensive coordinator Jim Knowles on his visits to Columbus and via phone.
"He's a good coach," Hartford said. "He knows his scheme and he knows football."
Hartford made 58 tackles and recorded two interceptions last season for Lakota West, while he also had six blocked kicks on special teams. He could become the third Buckeye from Lakota West in a two-year span, as 2022 signees Jyaire Brown and Tegra Tshabola were both teammates with Hartford at Lakota West.
Should Hartford pick the Buckeyes, he’ll be the sixth overall commit (assuming no one else pulls the trigger before then) and the fourth in-state product to give his verbal to the Buckeyes in the 2023 cycle. He’d also become the second safety commit in the class, joining four-star Florida safety Cedrick Hawkins, who will be among the prospects visiting OSU this weekend.
Ohio State would like to take three safeties in 2023, so if Hartford joins the fold, that would likely leave one spot remaining for what could be one of Caleb Downs, Joenel Aguero or Daemon Fagan.
OSU won’t land Overton
The final remaining top prospect of the 2022 class, five-star Georgia defensive lineman Lebbeus Overton, will make his college decision at 3 p.m. Friday in a live announcement on ESPN2.
Lets do it @CraigHaubert @Hayesfawcett3 pic.twitter.com/CUa7JQm4WS— Lebbeus Thomas Overton (@LebbeusO) March 31, 2022
Overton has a final five of Ohio State, Texas A&M, Oregon, Georgia and Oklahoma, but Overton’s mother told Rivals he will only be deciding between Texas A&M, Georgia and Oregon. Considering Overton was scheduled to take an official visit to Ohio State on April 16 and that never materialized, it’s no surprise the 18th-ranked prospect in the 2022 class – who was originally a member of the 2023 class before reclassifying – is going in a different direction.
Texas A&M is the presumed favorite to land Overton, which would add to an already-loaded, No. 1-ranked 2022 recruiting class for the Aggies.
Lyons to visit OSU for spring game
Four-star 2023 California tight end Walker Lyons announced last week on Twitter he would be visiting Ohio State in April.
I will be unofficially visiting Ohio State in April! @OSUCoachKDub @BrandonHuffman @adamgorney #GoBucks— Walker Lyons (@walkerly0ns) March 24, 2022
On Thursday, he told 247Sports a specific date: April 16 for the Ohio State spring game. While he won’t be visiting alongside his high school teammate, four-star 2023 wideout Rico Flores Jr. (who will visit April 7-9), Lyons is a top option for OSU at tight end.
The Buckeyes would like to take two tight ends this recruiting cycle and have already landed four-star Ty Lockwood. Ohio State is one of six finalists for Lyons along with Utah, BYU, Stanford, Alabama and USC.