Recruiting has been a whirlwind for Ohio State’s 2023 class.
Earlier this summer, it looked like Ohio State couldn’t be stopped on the recruiting trail.
The Buckeyes landed three straight wide receiver commitments from Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate and Noah Rogers, then landed three cornerback commitments a week later, which they thought concluded their cornerback recruiting at the time.
The following week, OSU also made a splash somewhat unexpectedly on the defensive side of the ball, getting a verbal commitment from top-55 prospect Jason Moore, who was considered a Notre Dame lean for the majority of his recruitment.
Since then, frankly, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Ohio State has seen some of its top defensive targets commit elsewhere in July, including Caleb Downs, Troy Bowles, Tackett Curtis and John Walker. On Saturday, four-star cornerback and top-100 prospect Dijon Johnson decommitted from Ohio State after taking a visit to Florida.
It’s a stretch that’s certainly caused a few sleepless nights for Ryan Day and Mark Pantoni, though everything can’t be all doom and gloom considering they still have the nation’s No. 2-ranked recruiting class.
When Day met with reporters at Big Ten Media Days on Wednesday, he was asked if some of the defensive recruiting misses could be attributed to recruits wanting to see results from Knowles’ scheme play out on the field first before feeling comfortable committing to Ohio State.
Day didn’t entirely discount on-field results having an impact on recruiting, but said he also believes the Buckeyes have a good foundation in place to pitch to defensive prospects.
“I think when you change a defense as drastically as we have, a lot of people want to see what it’s going to look like,” Day said Wednesday. “I think it’s pretty easy for recruits to see how we’re going to run it based on Jim’s past and some of the guys in that room in Perry (Eliano), Tim (Walton) and Larry (Johnson).
“I think our recruiting class is strong, our goal is still always to be top 10 or top 5 in the country and I think we will be this year. We’ll see how it plays out. But I think our defensive guys have done a really good job recruiting. They’re hustling like crazy and they’re really working on it. I’m sure (recruits) do want to see (success with the scheme), but I also think they understand that we’ve got some really good guys about development.”
Day gave vocal stamps of approval to his defensive assistants, saying Johnson’s developmental track record speaks for itself, along with Walton’s success in the NFL and Eliano’s history at Cincinnati. He also acknowledged that if Ohio State’s defense can significantly improve this season, it will make the Buckeyes’ lives easier on the recruiting trail.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, Ohio State’s coach boldly declared he expects the 2022 Buckeyes to be a top-10 defense under first-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. If that holds true, it could go a long way in attracting top defensive talent to Columbus in further cycles.
“I do think guys are excited to see what this looks like,” Day said. “I think when they see the energy and a bunch of guys flying around and all that, it’s going to be a much easier sell.”
Ohio State normally hosts a BBQ for recruits at the end of July once the dead period ends, but the Buckeyes planned no such event this year. Instead, the Buckeyes are counting on their marquee season opener with Notre Dame serving as their next premier recruiting weekend, as more than 50 recruits from various classes could be on campus for that game.
It’ll also be the first time recruits get to see Jim Knowles’ scheme in live action at Ohio State.