"I Don't Know What You Did, But James Is Going To Pull The Trigger Today": How Ohio State's 2024 Commits Are Embracing Peer Recruiting

By Garrick Hodge on May 15, 2023 at 8:35 am
Devontae and Deontae Armstrong

In the past few recruiting cycles, Ohio State has certainly benefited from the peer recruiting efforts of commits that locked themselves in to the Buckeyes’ class early ahead of National Signing Day.

Each cycle has also seemed to have a commit that was the most vocal on social media about encouraging their peers to join them in Columbus. In the 2022 class, C.J. Hicks was so active in recruiting efforts both in-person and online he earned the nickname Captain Buckeye. For 2023, offensive lineman Luke Montgomery led the charge on Twitter and when out-of-state recruits took in-person visits to Ohio State.

The early frontrunners for peer recruiting class leader in 2024 would likely be awarded to four-star offensive linemen and twin brothers Deontae and Devontae Armstrong, who put in a lot of work both publicly on Twitter and privately via text message and phone calls to help Ohio State land its remaining most coveted targets. However, the same could be said of any of the program's 13 commits that have all embraced peer recruiting and are determined to give the Buckeyes another top-five recruiting class nationally. 

“There’s lots of phone calls and texting,” Devontae Armstrong said on May 7 regarding the work he and Ohio State's commits put toward peer recruiting. “We’re able to answer questions that coaches may not be able to answer from a recruiting perspective. We give lots of honest answers.”

The Armstrongs say they have group chats with fellow Ohio State 2024 commits and reach out to targets individually. 

“We’ll try to text a recruit that the coaching staff is really striving to get,” Devontae said. “We’ll strategically text him and check in, try to embrace that family environment that we preach at Ohio State.” 

“I feel like we’re easy people to talk to,” Deontae said of himself and his brother. “We’re somebody that anyone can reach out to, they ask the hard questions to us, and we answer them truthfully. We tell them how it is inside and out. We’re still on the recruiting train.” 

The Armstrong's efforts helped land one of 2024’s premier running backs in four-star prospect James Peoples. Both twins poured weeks getting to know the once-coveted Ohio State target and became excited once they saw what he could do on the field and learned he was planning on visiting OSU from March 30-April 1.

“James Peoples, that was our guy,” Deontae said. 

Deontae had barely finished his sentence before Devontae concurred with his brother. 

“Yeah, we really strived to get him,” he said. 

The pair developed a rapport with Peoples over text messages, making both anxious to meet the Texas running back in person. After watching Peoples’ game film, Devontae was convinced Ohio State had to land him. 

“We gotta get this guy,” Devontae said, noting his reaction after watching Peoples in action. “He shoots through holes like a missile.” 

Deontae said he and his brother attended Ohio State’s Student Appreciation Day practice on April 1 to recruit Peoples. By the end of the day, Peoples committed to the Buckeyes and announced his decision publicly a day later. 

“We got a good sense of his personality,” Deontae said. “We got to meet his entire family. They came up to us at the end of his visit and said, ‘I don’t know what you did, but James is going to pull the trigger today.’” 

Both Armstrong twins also wanted to lend their peer recruiting services to four-star quarterback Air Noland that same weekend, who visited Ohio State for the first time a week before he made his decision. But Deontae said they were under the impression Noland was sold on the Buckeyes before they even had a chance to speak with him, so they put all their efforts toward helping land Peoples. 

“As soon as I talked to (Air), I got a sense that he was going to be a Buckeye,” Deontae said.

Peoples wasn’t the only peer recruiting success story for the Buckeyes. On March 25, four-star linebacker commit Garrett Stover went all out recruiting Texas four-star linebacker Payton Pierce. A few weeks after the visit, Pierce called Ohio State's coaching staff to let them know he was committing to the Buckeyes, then immediately let Stover know he was in.

Stover said he and Pierce talk essentially every other day and occasionally talk about how they’d like to grow the class on the defensive side of the ball, as they’re the lone defensive commits as of now. When speaking with fellow recruits, Stover said his pitch mentions the people at Ohio State, the coaching staff, the fellow players and the welcoming atmosphere he feels at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“Right now, there’s Kyngstonn (Viliamu-Asa) and Edwin Spillman,” Stover said, naming two fellow 2024 linebackers he and Pierce are recruiting. “They’re kind of the top two targets that I know of that are taking official visits. I’ll be there with them and try to seal the deal with them too. There are also a lot of Ohio guys, Bryce (West) and Aaron (Scott) especially, that are really considering coming to Ohio State. We’re also trying to seal the deal with them too as quickly as possible so we can get this class rolling … Especially with Bryce and Aaron, you have the best team in the nation right in your backyard. Why would you not want to play for that?” 

While the Armstrong twins never shy away from announcing on social media which targets they’d like to join them in Columbus next season, some Ohio State commits prefer a quieter approach. Offensive lineman commit Marc Nave fits that mold. 

“I’m more of a low-key recruiter,” Nave said on May 7. “They kind of like make it all out. I try and like hit the guys up on the down low and really just show them how Ohio State is. And when they visit, just try and show them like we can really do something special here for the next few years.

“Everybody’s trying to get after it as far as recruiting and trying to just really get players on board. Because we want to be the best team in the country. We want to have the best class. And the ultimate goal is to win the natty there. So whoever we can get in our class that’s really good players, we’re gonna go after.”

Five-star wide receiver commit Mylan Graham is another individual that prefers to keep his discussions with prospective targets off social media, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t actively trying to better Ohio State’s 2024 class.

“I’m recruiting really hard,” Graham said. “I’m really trying to get Jeremiah McClellan and some DBs out of Ohio. I also really tried to get Air (Noland) really hard, and we got him.” 

Ohio State’s commits will continue to work toward helping build the Buckeyes’ 2024 recruiting class, which currently sits as the No. 2 in the country behind archrival Michigan. There’s plenty of confidence the Buckeyes can sustain their momentum heading into the summer. 

“There’s some stuff in the works, especially in the secondary, that I think Ohio State fans and the staff will be really, really happy about,” Devontae said.

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