With the recruiting dead period lifting on Friday and the transfer portal opening Monday, Ohio State coaches have officially shifted a good portion of their focus to recruiting.
While the advantages of not playing in the Big Ten Championship Game for a third straight season are minimal at best, it does allow OSU’s coaching staff to hit the road this weekend and visit some of their top targets in various recruiting classes.
Not to mention, the Buckeyes are hosting their top remaining target in the 2024 cycle on an official visit this weekend, with five-star offensive tackle Jordan Seaton arriving on campus for the first time since November 2022.
But there will be some key official visits to OSU next weekend, too.
One week from now, three of Ohio State’s top remaining targets in the 2024 class – four-star defensive tackle Carlon Jones, four-star defensive lineman Ernest Willor Jr. and four-star safety Koi Perich – will be coming to Columbus for an official visit starting Dec. 8.
Regarding Jones and Willor’s visits, there will be a touch more urgency with each prospect after the decommitment of five-star defensive tackle Justin Scott, who flipped to Miami unexpectedly on Wednesday. Had Scott stayed in the class, there would only have been one interior defensive line spot remaining for OSU in the 2024 class. Now, OSU’s coaches can pitch to Willor and Jones that there will be a spot available for each and that they could come into the class together.
In the case of Jones, this will be the 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive tackle’s first visit to Columbus. The Texas product was offered by Ohio State on Oct. 30 and tried to take an official visit to each of the Buckeyes’ final two remaining home games in November, but schedule conflicts with his high school team prevented those visits from taking place.
“It felt great, they are one of the best teams in college football,” Jones told Eleven Warriors Friday of receiving his Ohio State offer. “I’m very excited to get up there, I want to see how family-oriented the team and coaches are.”
Jones turned some heads when he decommitted from Nebraska on Tuesday, a week-and-a-half ahead of his visit. While OSU isn’t the only team pursuing Jones, it would be fair to call the Buckeyes the frontrunner ahead of the official visit. Since offering him late in October, Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has built a rapport with Jones.
“We text occasionally,” Jones said of the communication between him and Johnson. “He wants me to play the three-technique. I believe he can help me get to the NFL. I love the intensity of Ohio State’s defense (from what it’s shown).”
Per 247Sports' composite rankings, Jones is considered the 410th-best prospect and the 45th-ranked defensive lineman in the 2024 class. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound prospect has racked up 95 tackles (30 for loss) with 17.5 sacks, 23 quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery for Bay City High School (Bay City, Texas) this season. In his junior year, he recorded 102 tackles (29 for loss) with 13 sacks and a pass breakup.
“I’m very passionate about football, usually quicker and more dominant than offensive linemen,” Jones said of his on-field game.
Jones originally had a Kansas State visit scheduled for the weekend after his Ohio State visit, but he changed his plans after he was offered by USC on Thursday. Now, Jones will visit OSU Dec. 8-10 and then take an official visit to USC the weekend after. While Jones said he may make a decision shortly after that visit and sign in December, he’ll graduate high school in May and be a summer enrollee.
“Getting the chance to compete for a national championship every year,” Jones said when asked what appeals most to him about potentially playing for Ohio State.
Should OSU land Jones, he’d become the third OSU defensive lineman in the 2024 class, joining Eddrick Houston and Eric Mensah. In addition to Jones and Willor, Ohio State is also looking to flip four-star defensive end Amaris Williams from Florida.