The Hurry-Up: Vernell Brown and Damien Shanklin Include Ohio State in Their Top Four Schools, Isaiah West Decommits from Kentucky, Buckeyes Offer Two 2026 Standouts

By Garrick Hodge on May 15, 2024 at 5:30 pm
Vernell Brown

One of Ohio State’s top wide receiver targets in the 2025 class has narrowed down his recruitment.

Four-star Florida wide receiver Vernell Brown released a top four on Tuesday consisting of Florida, Miami, Florida State and Ohio State. 

Brown has long been a coveted target of Brian Hartline and the Buckeyes and recently visited OSU twice this spring. Hartline returned the favor earlier this week and stopped by Brown’s school on Tuesday.

The Florida standout’s first official visit of the summer will be to OSU on May 31, and he’ll take trips to see his other three finalists in the following weeks. He’ll likely make a decision sometime this summer after his official visits are completed. 

It will be difficult to get the top-70 prospect out of state for college, but if any tandem can pull it off, it’s Hartline and Ryan Day. As a junior, Brown caught 70 passes for 1,363 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns while returning three punts for scores and returning a kickoff for a touchdown.

“Ohio State is the cream of the crop as it pertains to developing and producing the wide receiver position,” Brown told Eleven Warriors of OSU last summer. “To earn an opportunity to become part of that meant a lot and reiterates that I am one of the top guys at the position in my class."

Damien Shanklin puts Buckeyes in top four

Brown wasn’t the only Ohio State target to trim his finalists down to four this week. Four-star Indiana defensive end Damien Shanklin included OSU in his top four along with LSU, Tennessee and Alabama. 

Shanklin will take official visits to LSU on May 31, OSU on June 7, Tennessee on June 14 and Alabama on June 21. The OSU official visit will be Shanklin’s second trip to Columbus, as he made his first visit to campus earlier this spring, when he received his offer from Ohio State. 

“I liked it a lot,” Shanklin told Eleven Warriors of the visit. “It was a great environment and hospitality. (I also loved) just watching the practice, the team was very competitive.”

All of Shanklin’s finalists have at least a puncher’s chance of landing the top-110 prospect, so the next month or so will be a crucial time in his recruitment.

Shanklin recorded 66 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, three sacks, an interception and four pass deflections in his junior season.

Isaiah West decommits from Kentucky

Three-star 2025 Ohio State running back target Isaiah West made his first trip to Columbus last weekend, and by all accounts the visit was successful for both parties. Two days later, West decommitted from Kentucky, reopening his recruitment ahead of official visit season. 

With West back on the market, all signs point to him eventually ending up in the Buckeyes’ 2025 class. But things will likely have to continue to go well on his official visit, which is scheduled for June 14. OSU hopes to take three running backs in the 2025 cycle, and an ideal tailback class could consist of West, Jordon Davison and Bo Jackson. West attends St. Joseph’s Prep School in Philadelphia, the same school that produced former OSU players Marvin Harrison Jr. and Kyle McCord.

Kosi Okpala earns an offer from Ohio State

Ohio State linebackers coach James Laurinaitis made a stop in Texas Wednesday to offer a top linebacker in the 2026 class, four-star prospect Kosi Okpala

Per 247Sports’ composite rankings, Okpala is considered the No. 152 overall prospect and the No. 15 linebacker in the 2026 cycle. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Okapala has picked up 16 Division I offers, including Baylor, Duke, Houston, Kansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, SMU, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC and UTEP. 

As a sophomore, Okpala recorded 66 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. 

Heze Kent picks up offer from Buckeyes

OSU tight ends coach Keenan Bailey added a promising tight end to his 2026 recruiting board by offering four-star Georgia prospect Heze Kent on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Kent is considered the No. 146 prospect and the No. 7 tight end in the 2026 class. Kent has picked up more than 30 Division I offers, including Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Duke, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Liberty, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCF, USC, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

In 11 games last season, Kent caught 17 passes for 394 yards and three receiving touchdowns. He was also used as a running back, running for 360 yards with five rushing touchdowns on 45 carries.

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