Heat Check: Keon Keeley Moves to the Top Spot After Two Visits to Columbus and Two New Names Crack Ohio State’s 2023 Recruiting Board

By Garrick Hodge on October 10, 2022 at 10:50 am
Keon Keeley

Ohio State went through September without a commitment from a 2023 prospect, which means the Buckeyes are chasing most of the same prospects they were a month ago.

The majority of the targets from last month's Heat Check are still on the board, but a couple of new names have also been added after the Buckeyes’ recent offers to Daevin Hobbs and Arion Carter.

There's movement at the top of the board once again, with five-star defensive end Keon Keeley emerging as Ohio State’s top target after his pair of visits to Columbus in September, but as we'll explain shortly, there's not much separating the first three spots.

The Board
KEON KEELEY DE 1 3 ★★★★★ Alabama•Florida
MATAYO UIAGALELEI  DE 2 2 ★★★★★ USC•Oregon•Alabama
DAMON WILSON DE 3 1 ★★★★★ Alabama•Georgia•Miami
KAYDEN MCDONALD DT 4 5 ★★★★ Clemson•Florida•Michigan•Oklahoma
DAEVIN HOBBS DL 5 NA ★★★★ Alabama•Georgia•Michigan•Tennessee
ARION CARTER LB 6 NA ★★★★ Michigan•Alabama•LSU•Tennessee
SAMSON OKUNLOLA OT 7 6 ★★★★★ Michigan State•Alabama•Miami•Florida
JORDAN HALL DT 8 4 ★★★★ Florida State•Florida•Georgia
QUA RUSSAW DE 9 8 ★★★★★ Alabama•Auburn•Georgia•Florida
JAMES SMITH DT 10 9 ★★★★★ Alabama•Auburn•Georgia•Florida

Keon Keeley

If we’re being honest, the rankings of one through three on this list are pretty interchangeable, both because of the importance all three hold to Ohio State and how close to the vest each prospect keeps their recruitment. 

But Keeley earns the top spot on the Heat Check because he and his family made two visits to Columbus in September, and it’s not likely the Keeley family would have made a second trip to OSU on its own dime if the Buckeyes aren’t a real option for the five-star pass rusher. 

Keeley just finished his official visit to Alabama over the weekend, and the Crimson Tide have been the perceived favorite to land the Florida prospect since his decommitment from Notre Dame. With all his scheduled visits complete, the top-rated defensive end in the 2023 class may decide on his recruitment in the coming weeks.

Matayo Uiagalelei

There’s not a whole lot of change in the status of Uiagalelei from last month, as Ohio State remains in a strong position for the talented California five-star defensive end following his unofficial visit to Columbus for the Notre Dame game on Sept. 3. 

This recruitment will likely go the distance, and the Buckeyes’ biggest challengers remain USC, Oregon and potentially Alabama. 

Damon Wilson

After Wilson took his official visit to Ohio State on Sept. 3, all the momentum in his recruitment was firmly with the Buckeyes. That momentum has subsided somewhat of late, as Wilson just took an official visit this past weekend to Georgia, probably the biggest challenger to Ohio State for Wilson’s commitment.

With no more official visits planned as of now for Wilson, he may decide on a school sooner rather than later. Ohio State will hope its initial impression on Wilson was enough to win out in this recruitment in the end. 

Kayden McDonald

Ohio State is doing everything it can to secure the commitment of McDonald, who has a commitment date of Oct. 31 approaching. A true defensive tackle, the Georgia prospect would make a fine addition to OSU’s defensive line corps next season and could potentially contribute early.

McDonald took his official visit to Columbus on Sept. 24 for the Wisconsin game, and said Ohio State coaches put a full-court press on him to try to convey the message that Ohio State is “home” for McDonald. The coaching staff has been in daily contact with him since then.

McDonald told Eleven Warriors Ohio State is “at the top” of his list after his visit, so it’s no surprise the Buckeyes cracked his final five along with Michigan, Clemson, Oklahoma and Florida. Ohio State has a good shot to land McDonald, but if proximity to home is a big factor to the defensive prospect, Clemson could win out in the end. 

Daevin Hobbs

Ohio State offered the 6-foot-4, 262-pound Hobbs on Sept. 29, and the North Carolina prospect visited Columbus two days later for the Buckeyes’ contest against Rutgers on Oct. 1. He attended the game with his sister, Ella, who holds an offer from Ohio State’s women’s basketball team. 

Hobbs is being recruited as both a defensive end and defensive tackle and could be either at Ohio State based on his build and skill set.

Hobbs has official visits scheduled for Alabama and Georgia later this fall and previously visited Tennessee and Michigan. He does not plan to make an official visit to Ohio State but may return to Columbus for an unofficial visit later this fall.

Arion Carter

The Tennessee linebacker is Ohio State’s newest offer in the 2023 class, as the Buckeyes extended their offer to Carter on Sept. 30. Giving an offer to Carter suggests they’d like to take another linebacker in the class to pair with Arvell Reese, though Carter is also a talented running back. 

While he’s currently committed to Memphis, it’s widely expected the 6-foot-1, 210-pound prospect will eventually go elsewhere after a plethora of new offers came his way in September. Carter will make an official visit to Ohio State on Nov. 11 when the Buckeyes host Indiana. He’s also scheduled officials to Michigan, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama. 

Samson Okunlola 

Okunlola is likely Ohio State’s last chance of adding another premier offensive tackle to its 2023 recruiting class, but as Heat Check readers surely know by now, he has to get on campus for a visit if the Buckeyes are going to become a real contender for his commitment. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive tackle told Eleven Warriors last month he is still considering making a visit to Ohio State, and the regular-season finale against Michigan seems like the best bet for such a visit.

Jordan Hall

This one seems to be trending away from Ohio State at the moment, with several 247Sports Crystal Ball projections coming in for Hall to end up at Georgia following his visit to Athens. But if McDonald or Hobbs go elsewhere, OSU could put the full-court press on Hall, who has scheduled an official visit to Columbus for the Michigan game. 

Qua Russaw and James Smith

We’re just going to lump these two together in the same explanation because the premise for both five-star defensive linemen, who are teammates at Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama, is entirely the same. Both Russaw and Smith are definite longshots, even more so than Okunlola, of ever committing to Ohio State. They put the Buckeyes on their final top schools list so they’ll appear in this space until they officially commit elsewhere. But with no visits to OSU scheduled, don’t hold your breath.

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