Heat Check: Matayo Uiagalelei Becomes Ohio State's New No. 1 Target As Six New Names Join the 2023 Recruiting Board

By Garrick Hodge on August 7, 2022 at 10:10 am
Matayo Uiagalelei

Take a brief moment to look at July's version of Heat Check, Eleven Warriors' monthly editorial ranking the top targets on Ohio State's recruiting board.  

Now that that's done, go ahead and burn that recruiting board out of your cranium and forget about it, because we're completely starting from scratch. Nine of the 11 prospects listed in last month's Heat Check have either committed to Ohio State or elsewhere, leading to lots of turnover on the board.

Furthermore, instead of ranking 11 prospects for the Heat Check, we're only doing eight this month. Coming up with three more targets to fit the usual 11 seems like a stretch at this point in time, though we’ll adjust accordingly if OSU expands its board at its remaining positions of need this fall.

Defensive ends Matayo Uiagalelei and Desmond Umeozulu are the only holdovers from last month’s Heat Check, with six new names joining them on the board:

The Board
JAYDEN BONSU S 2 NA ★★★★ Miami
DAMON WILSON DE 3 NA ★★★★ Alabama•Georgia•Miami•Texas
DESMOND UMEOZULU  DE 4 7 ★★★★ South Carolina•North Carolina
KEON KEELEY DE 5 NA ★★★★★ Notre Dame•Alabama
JALEN THOMPSON DE 6 NA ★★★★ Michigan State•Penn State•Cincinnati
SAMSON OKUNLOLA OT 7 NA ★★★★★ Michigan State•Alabama•Miami
MONROE FREELING OT 8 NA ★★★★ Florida•Miami•Notre Dame

Matayo Uiagalelei

Not much has changed in the status of Uiagalelei. Ohio State is still in a great position to land the defensive lineman from California and perhaps could be considered the frontrunner. But a decision is far from imminent. It would do wonders for the Buckeyes’ 2023 class if they could add a player of Uiagalelei’s caliber after striking out on several other top defensive targets this summer.

Jayden Bonsu

After Bonsu looked like a Miami lean last month, August has seen Ohio State reclaim its spot as the frontrunner in his recruitment with a week to go until his commitment. OSU has long been high on the New Jersey safety and would have taken him even if five-star safety Caleb Downs committed to OSU. With Downs committing to Alabama, OSU will take solace in the fact that it at least appears in a great position to add Bonsu to its 2023 cycle.  

Damon Wilson

Instead of taking his official visits this summer, Wilson delayed his visits until the fall. There seems to be some optimism with OSU’s chances surrounding its pursuit of the four-star Florida defensive end, though. Wilson included OSU in his top five last month along with Alabama, Georgia, Miami and Texas. It’ll be far from an easy battle to land the talented defensive prospect, but the Buckeyes definitely seem to have a puncher’s chance here.

Desmond Umeozulu 

At one point, Ohio State was the clear favorite to land the Maryland defensive end. Now, South Carolina has at the very least made things very interesting with a little more than three weeks remaining before his scheduled Aug. 29 commitment date. That’s not to say OSU can’t eventually be Umeozulu’s pick when all is said and done. But it’ll be an interesting race between now and the end of the month.

Keon Keeley

Ohio State would love to flip the five-star defensive lineman, who is currently committed to Notre Dame. So would Alabama, and Keeley recently took an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa, so there seems to be at least partial interest on his end. Several OSU commits, such as Luke Montgomery, have reached out to Keeley on social media to try and sway him to join OSU’s 2023 recruiting class.

Keeley last visited Columbus in the spring despite being committed to the Fighting Irish. If the Buckeyes were going to get Keeley back on campus, the season opener against Notre Dame on Sept. 3 sure feels like the appropriate time to do it. 

Jalen Thompson

Thompson is planning to commit on Aug. 22, so Ohio State should know where it stands with Thompson sooner rather than later. The four-star Michigan defensive end visited Columbus in late July and said that visit helped the Buckeyes move up the board for him on his top school list. In the final stages of his recruitment, it could come down to a matter of how much Ohio State really wants to push for Thompson’s commitment.

Whether he commits to Ohio State or picks another school in his top five, such as Michigan State, may be an indication of how high the Buckeyes are on his potential as a defensive end.

Samson Okunlola

If Ohio State could add any uncommitted prospect in the country to its recruiting class, Okunlola would probably be near the top of the list. The five-star offensive tackle would certainly fit the Buckeyes’ need for a premier tackle in the 2023 class. The problem is, Okunlola hasn’t visited OSU anywhere close to recently. 

So until that happens, it’s hard to take the Buckeyes seriously as a contender for the Massachusetts prospect. If Okunlola makes his way to Columbus, he’d vault to the top of the list, or at least near it.

Monroe Freeling

Everything you just read about Okunlola above? Apply it to Freeling as well. The South Carolina offensive tackle will need to take a visit to Columbus at some point during the fall for Ohio State to be taken seriously in this recruitment, but he’s the kind of premier tackle that Ohio State would love to add to its 2023 class.

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