Heat Check: Damon Wilson Takes over Top Spot As Five New Names Crack the 2023 Recruiting Board

By Garrick Hodge on September 9, 2022 at 11:35 am
Damon Wilson

One week after what will possibly be remembered as the biggest recruiting weekend of the season for Ohio State, we’re back with a September edition of Heat Check for Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class.

Five new names crack this month’s board, as we’ve come up with nine players total to include on this recruiting wishlist for the Buckeyes. Damon Wilson, Matayo Uiagalelei, Keon Keeley and Samson Okunlola are the holdovers from last month’s board, and as you can see, there’s a new person at the No. 1 spot. 

The Board
DAMON WILSON DE 1 3 ★★★★★ Alabama•Georgia•Miami
KEON KEELEY DE 3 5 ★★★★★ Alabama•Florida
JORDAN HALL DT 4 NA ★★★★ Florida State•Florida•Georgia
KAYDEN MCDONALD DT 5 NA ★★★★ Clemson•Georgia•Michigan•Oklahoma
SAMSON OKUNLOLA OT 6 7 ★★★★★ Michigan State•Alabama•Miami•Florida
BO HUGHLEY OT 7 NA ★★★★ Georgia
QUA RUSSAW DE 8 NA ★★★★★ Alabama•Auburn•Georgia•Florida
JAMES SMITH DT 9 NA ★★★★★ Alabama•Auburn•Georgia•Florida

Damon Wilson 

The five-star Florida defensive end takes over the top spot of Eleven Warriors’ monthly editorial ranking of the top targets on Ohio State’s recruiting board due to a combination of optimism that the Buckeyes can win him over and because his decision could be coming before the month ends.

Ohio State is Wilson's perceived leader after his official visit to Columbus for the Notre Dame game. It will be up to Larry Johnson and company to seal the deal. 

Matayo Uiagalelei

Uiagalelei may have dropped a spot on the board, but there’s no reason to think the Buckeyes’ chances of landing the five-star California defensive end have gone down. By all accounts, Uiagalelei enjoyed his visit to Columbus last weekend. 

Still, this is a recruitment that is likely going the distance. So while Ohio State has put itself in a great position, there’s still a lot of work to be done on the recruiting front before Uiagalelei makes his decision.

Keon Keeley

Of the three premier five-star defensive ends on this list that visited OSU last weekend, Keeley is probably the biggest longshot for Ohio State to land, considering Alabama is the front-runner to many in the recruiting industry. But anyone would be hard-pressed to ignore Keeley’s ear-to-ear smile upon entering Ohio Stadium from the tunnel and seeing a sold-out crowd for the season opener. Larry Johnson accompanied him for that moment.

With Johnson leading this recruitment, Ohio State will have a shot until the end. What’s more, Keeley met one of his childhood idols, LeBron James, at the game Saturday. Not that any recruit will make a college decision over what celebrities they get to meet, but it is one perk no other school will be able to offer the rest of the year. 

Jordan Hall

Based on previous experiences, if a guy named Jordan Hall ultimately suits up for the Buckeyes one day, good things are bound to happen, right? 

Nevertheless, Ohio State has a legitimate chance at landing the defensive tackle. It will likely have to be a late final push as he’s expected to make an official visit to Columbus in November for the Michigan game. 

Kayden McDonald

McDonald is another defensive tackle expected to take an official visit to Ohio State. He indicated that would occur by the end of the month as the 6-foot-3, 310-pound prospect hopes to visit Columbus for the Wisconsin game. 

McDonald’s recruitment seems to be trending towards Clemson at the moment, so if the Buckeyes believe McDonald is a must-get, it may behoove Johnson and company to put on a full-court press for him while he takes his official visit with his decision about a month or so away. 

Samson Okunlola 

The dream of landing the five-star offensive tackle remains alive. But, as always, before he can be taken more seriously as someone with a legitimate chance to go to Ohio State, he’ll need to visit Columbus. With the Notre Dame game come and gone, the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan seems like the best bet for Okunlola to use his official visit if he’s ever going to make it to campus this year. 

Bo Hughley 

This is where the list starts to stray away from reality and toward dreaming of long shots. 

I’m breaking one of the golden rules I use when compiling Eleven Warriors’ monthly editorial of the top remaining recruiting targets for OSU: a prospect must have an Ohio State offer to crack the board. 

But the four-star Hughley is precisely the type of premier tackle Ohio State would like an opportunity to flip if it can, and he’s also the high school teammate of Ohio State tight end commit Jelani Thurman. Speculation circulated in the weeks leading up to the Notre Dame game that he might accompany Thurman on his visit to Columbus, but ultimately, that never materialized. Hughley remains a longshot at best for Ohio State, but if he ever makes it to Columbus, he could vault up this list in a hurry. 

Qua Russaw

Now we’re really entering the dare-to-dream segment of this list. Just going to get a quick disclaimer out of the way: I’m setting the odds that Russaw and the last name on our list below will ultimately commit to Ohio State at less than five percent. So why, then, have they cracked the September Heat Check? 

Simply because they’re both five-star caliber players, and they included Ohio State on their final top schools' list. Russaw has said he will visit Columbus sometime this fall, but it’s probably pretty telling that he took a trip to Jordan-Hare Stadium for Auburn’s game against Mercer instead of attending the Notre Dame game.

If anything materializes here, it’ll probably be at the Michigan game. But again, less than a five percent chance he becomes a Buckeye, and even that feels like a stretch. 

James Smith

Russaw and Smith are apparently a true package deal recruitment. But, even if they weren’t, go ahead and take a gander at the synopsis of Russaw and apply it to Smith.

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