Since the last edition of the Heat Check was published, Ohio State added two massive commitments to its 2025 class.
Four-star Ohio offensive tackle Carter Lowe, ranked No. 3 in the January edition, gave his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, while Tim Walton continued his hot streak by adding five-star prospect Na'eem Offord, the No. 1 cornerback in the country.
OSU’s current cycle stands at eight commits total and has a bevy of momentum, particularly in the secondary. And some key names could come off the board soon. We’ve added two new names to the February edition of the board, with offensive tackle, safety and defensive line still being heavily represented at the top as OSU’s positions of greatest need for the 2025 cycle.
As always, rankings for Eleven Warriors’ monthly recruiting editorial are based on many factors, including roster needs for the Buckeyes in future seasons, the caliber of the player and how likely that player is to come to Columbus on National Signing Day.
|OTHERS IN THE MIX
|DAVID SANDERS JR.
|Notre Dame•Penn State•Tennessee•Michigan•Oregon•Georgia
|Miami•Florida State•Texas•Notre Dame
Maybe it seems a little odd that Brew has moved to the No. 1 overall spot considering OSU has three cornerbacks committed already, all of them top-10 prospects at their positions. But Brew is talented enough and has enough ties to the university that he remains a must-get prospect for the Buckeyes. Brew, the son of Donica Merriman, an Ohio State Athletics Hall of Famer in track and field, is an extremely versatile player and could play either cornerback or safety (or even offense) if the Buckeyes needed him to.
Though Brew postponed his original commitment date in January, the Buckeyes remain well-positioned to land him. Should Walton come through on yet another five-star defensive back commitment, OSU would have the No. 1 (Offord), No. 2 (Devin Sanchez), No. 4 (Brew) and No. 10 (Blake Woodby) ranked cornerbacks committed for 2025.
Besides offensive tackles, recruiting elite safety prospects has been a thorn in the side of the Buckeyes. Now, a lot of that got mitigated when Caleb Downs, by far and away the No. 1 target in the 2023 class, transferred to OSU. But landing a five-star safety prospect out of high school is still a goal for OSU in 2025 and may be essential considering nearly all of the Buckeyes’ starters in the secondary could depart after the 2024 season.
Ohio State could be on the verge of doing just that. On Tuesday, Delane received two 247Sports Crystal Ball projections in favor of Ohio State, with Walton and safeties coach Matt Guerrieri off to a terrific start building a relationship with him following Perry Eliano’s termination. OSU has been in a heated battle with Oregon for Delane, but the Buckeyes have reason to feel they’ll finally emerge as the victor for a top safety with Delane.
David Sanders Jr.
Sanders was the No. 1 ranked player in the inaugural 2025 Heat Check for two simple reasons: He’s arguably the best player in the country and his position is the biggest need for OSU in the current cycle. But considering the third factor involved in composing our rankings is the likelihood that the prospect ends up at OSU, we felt we had to drop Sanders a bit from the initial list given the two above him now are OSU leans.
That’s not to say OSU can’t win this recruitment at some point. The Buckeyes certainly haven’t given up pursuit of the premier offensive tackle, visiting him during January’s contact period. But Sanders scheduling another visit to Columbus would go a long way in suggesting there’s heavy interest on his end in becoming a Buckeye, and likely move him up the rankings in next month’s edition.
Carter Lowe may be in the class now, but that doesn’t make OSU’s need for multiple premier offensive tackles in 2025 any less glaring. DeBose certainly fits that bill. While Sanders may have the most upside of any offensive tackle this cycle, Debose is a bona fide top-five offensive tackle in the country and would be a massive win for the Buckeyes. Several OSU coaches visited Alabama to attend one of DeBose’s basketball games last month and ensured the 6-foot-5, 315-pound prospect that he’s a priority target for the Buckeyes. While DeBose has no shortage of suitors around the country, if you’re looking for a premier out-of-state offensive tackle the Buckeyes have the best chance of landing this cycle, DeBose may be it.
Hill could either be a linebacker or a defensive end at the next level and the Ohio prospect has enough tools to thrive at either position. The premier in-state prospect has been a frequent visitor to Columbus over the past few months, including on Jan. 20. Ohio State has reason to feel good about where it stands with Hill, but will need to fend off other premier programs to keep him home.
Merritt has long been one of Larry Johnson’s top targets at defensive end this cycle, with Johnson and Ryan Day visiting Merritt in Georgia last month. The top-100 prospect would make a heck of a pair with OSU defensive end commit Zahir Mathis and Ohio State should be viewed as the favorite to land Merritt as of now.
Like Brew, McNutt has an overflowing amount of talent in addition to ties to the university. He’d also fit the billing as a premier safety prospect for 2025. McNutt has visited Columbus many times in the past year, including on Jan. 20. He grew up an OSU fan considering his father played for the Buckeyes and it’s fair to say Ohio State is the favorite for McNutt. But it shouldn’t be considered a given he’ll be in the class as Georgia, Oregon, Tennessee and Michigan are in heavy pursuit of the Shaker Heights product.
Davis remains a top priority for Ohio State both because he’s an extremely talented in-state prospect, and because the Buckeyes don’t want to miss out on another prized Ohio tailback to Michigan like they did with Jordan Marshall in 2024. It isn’t simply an OSU vs. Michigan race for Davis, as he’ll also likely make official visits to Tennessee, USC and Penn State this summer. Tony Alford visited Davis multiple times during the active period last month and OSU is in good standing with the Cleveland Heights prospect. But continuing to show Davis he’s a top priority in the 2025 class will be key.
We’re bumping Alford up a bit from last month’s rankings because there’s a good chance the Buckeyes are the Florida linebacker’s school of choice when he announces his decision on March 30. Jim Knowles and James Laurinaitis have made no secret that Alford is one of their top remaining targets on the board, with OSU visiting him twice last month. Alford choosing OSU would continue to give the Buckeyes the making of an elite defensive class for 2025.
I hated leaving Davison off the list last month, so we’re not going to do it twice in a row. Especially since the California prospect has scheduled a multi-day visit to OSU in late March. Davison plays for prep powerhouse Mater Dei, a traditional USC pipeline the Buckeyes historically haven’t had much success in recruiting, but perhaps that could end with Davision, the No. 2 running back in 2025.
Ffrench continues to express heavy interest in OSU, donning Buckeye apparel in various seven-on-seven tournaments.
“The interest in Ohio State is high right now, definitely in that top 3 range,” Ffrench told Eleven Warriors last week. “I’m working to get back on campus soon.”
Ffrench is a bona fide playmaker at wide receiver, the only reason he’s not higher on the list is the Buckeyes’ wide receiver room is in good hands for multiple seasons with the likes of Jeremiah Smith, Brandon Inniss, Carnell Tate and Mylan Graham all being key parts of the Buckeyes’ future.
Ohio State still views Roberts as its No. 1 tight end target of the 2025 class. Oregon and Oklahoma are still battling the Buckeyes for Roberts’ commitment, but OSU isn’t backing down in this fight. The Buckeyes likely want two tight ends again in 2025, but would love it if the class was spearheaded by Roberts.
Just as Davison was the first man off our list last month, it doesn’t feel great to leave in-state running back Bo Jackson off of it, either. But we can only name 12 players at a time for this exercise. OSU could potentially take more than two running backs this cycle and there’s still no shortage of great options to choose from.
Tight end: Brock Schott