The Hurry-Up: Three-star 2024 OL Jake Guarnera Visiting Ohio State Wednesday, Nigel Smith and Winston Watkins Jr. Planning to Attend Season Opener

By Garrick Hodge on July 26, 2022 at 5:30 pm
Jake Guarnera

The recruiting dead period was officially lifted earlier this week, meaning Ohio State can host prospects on campus once again.

Four-star 2023 defensive lineman Jalen Thompson was the first recruit OSU hosted, as he took his second visit to Ohio State on Monday. Thompson camped with the Buckeyes on June 1 and earned an offer from the Buckeyes. 

On Wednesday, OSU will host a prospect it hasn’t offered yet: Three-star Florida 2024 offensive lineman Jake Guarnera. Guarnera confirmed his visit plans to Eleven Warriors Tuesday and said quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis has been his lead recruiter to this point. He’ll speak with offensive line coach Justin Frye Thursday for the first time. 

“I’ve talked to (Dennis) twice and I’m actually calling him again later (Tuesday),” Guarnera told Eleven Warriors. “He said Wednesday would be a great chance for me to meet everyone and he made sure coach Frye was going to be there.” 

The 6-foot-3, 290-pound prospect is considered the 327th-best prospect and the 15th-best interior offensive lineman in the 2024 class, per 247Sports’ composite rankings. He holds 10 Division I offers, including from programs such as Florida, Florida State, Arkansas State, NC State, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia and Wake Forest. 

Smith to visit Columbus for ND game

One of Ohio State’s biggest defensive line targets in the 2024 class has scheduled his fourth visit to Columbus. Four-star Texas prospect Nigel Smith told Eleven Warriors Tuesday he plans on attending OSU’s season opener on Sept. 3 against Notre Dame. It will be Smith’s second gameday visit at Ohio Stadium after he attended the Michigan State game last season. 

Smith returned to Columbus April 16 for the Buckeyes’ spring game, then camped with OSU on June 6 despite already holding an offer because he wanted to learn techniques from OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson. 

“It was definitely a great, great time to get to be able to actually see his coaching style in action,” Smith said in June. “I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t like a camp that took forever, but you got a lot of drills that you can take back. I already got a whole bunch of drills from him, probably over an hourlong video of just straight drills, so I've got a lot that I took back and used at home. So it was just great to be able to actually see his coaching style in person and get coached by someone like that.”

Watkins Jr. eyes visiting OSU for Notre Dame game

Smith won’t be the only premier recruit attending what figures to be the largest recruiting weekend of Ohio State’s season. Winston Watkins Jr., one of Ohio State’s top wide receiver targets in the 2025 class, told Eleven Warriors Tuesday he’s also eyeing attending OSU’s game against the Fighting Irish. 

Despite being committed to Texas A&M, Watkins Jr. camped with OSU on June 7 and impressed Brian Hartline enough to earn an offer. He had previously taken a visit to OSU April 1-2 to attend a spring practice. 

“It felt great, it felt like all the hard work I did paid off,” Watkins said in June of getting the offer. “It was definitely a top school for me in my recruitment and I’m just very appreciative of the offer.”

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