As one of the biggest months in recruiting history begins this week, Ohio State is set to welcome a star-studded group of visitors to campus.
As the month of May ends and June starts Tuesday, a hectic 27-day stretch on the recruiting trail will also begin as a dead period of over 14 months finally concludes. Ohio State is set to welcome more than 50 official visitors and 150-200 unofficial visitors to campus over the next four weeks as the Buckeyes hope to add one final piece to their 2021 class (J.T. Tuimoloau), continue building up their currently second-ranked 2022 class and begin building their class of 2023.
Big visitors on day one
Mark Pantoni and the rest of Ohio State’s recruiting staff will be busy right away on Tuesday, when they’re set to welcome multiple top targets to campus including 2022 defensive lineman Christen Miller and 2023 offensive tackle Luke Montgomery, who are both also planning to return to Columbus for second visits later in the month.
Miller, the No. 118 overall prospect in the class of 2022 and one of the Buckeyes’ top defensive tackle targets in the class, plans to return to Ohio State for an official visit on the final weekend of June. A native of Ellenwood, Georgia, Miller also plans to visit Georgia, USC and Louisville in between his two Ohio State visits.
Miller will be joined at Ohio State by his Cedar Grove teammate Kayin Lee, a four-star cornerback ranked by 247Sports as the No. 109 overall prospect in the class of 2023, who announced Monday that he'll also be in Columbus on Tuesday.
Ohio state June 1st #GoBuckeyes— Kayin Lee (@iamkayin1) May 31, 2021
Montgomery, the No. 53 overall prospect in the 2023 class, is set to return to Ohio State for the Buckeyes’ final one-day camp of the month on June 22. Ohio State is a frontrunner to land Montgomery, who told Eleven Warriors he was “lost for words” when he received his offer from the Buckeyes in February, but he’s also planning to visit Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Penn State this summer.
First camp on Wednesday
Ohio State’s first one-day camp of the month, scheduled for Wednesday, is expected to draw an intriguing group of 2023 prospects to campus, including two of the top seven quarterbacks in the class’ 247Sports composite rankings: California native Nicholaus Iamaleava and Louisiana native Eli Holstein. Other 2023 quarterbacks in attendance will include Malachi Singleton, who is ranked by 247Sports as the 17th-best quarterback in the class and hails from Justin Fields’ hometown of Kennesaw, Georgia, and Jackson, Ohio quarterback Jason Winters.
Ryan Day and Corey Dennis will surely be keeping a close eye on them. The Buckeyes have only offered one 2023 quarterback so far, California five-star Malachi Nelson, but that’s because they typically wait to offer quarterbacks until they have the opportunity to watch them throw in person, which will make the next month of camps crucial for Day and Dennis to evaluate their 2023 options at the position.
“it’s just so important to see the ball come out of their hand live,” Pantoni said Friday. “Corey’s done a great job of getting a large number of the 2023 kids up here in the next few weeks. So that will provide us an opportunity to get a head start and help our evaluations, for sure.”
Other rising juniors expected to be in attendance for Wednesday’s camp include five-star Ohio safety Sonny Styles, four-star Michigan guard Amir Herring, three-star Indiana offensive tackle Luke Burgess, three-star Ohio wide receiver Anthony Brown and in-state tight ends Tanner Lemaster and Jackson McGohan.
Styles is the only one of those prospects who has an offer from the Buckeyes so far, but it’s likely numerous others will leave Ohio State with offers on Wednesday if they can impress the coaches with their workouts.
A huge first weekend of official visits
Ohio State is set to welcome official visitors to campus on each of the next four weekends, and the first official visit weekend is set to be the biggest of them all. For a weekend they’re calling “Buckeye Bash 2.0,” 10 of Ohio State’s 12 commits in the recruiting class of 2022 are expected to be on campus this weekend: Quinn Ewers, C.J. Hicks, Caleb Burton, Gabe Powers, Jyaire Brown, Kyion Grayes, Tegra Tshabola, Benji Gosnell, Bennett Christian and Kye Stokes.
Some of Ohio State’s top remaining targets in the 2022 class will also be on campus for the festivities, which begin Friday and conclude Sunday. Players who are also slated to make official visits this weekend include:
- No. 5 overall prospect Zach Rice, the class’ top offensive tackle
- Four-star offensive tackles Aamil Wagner and George Fitzpatrick
- Five-star defensive end Omari Abor and four-star defensive end Khurtiss Perry
- Four-star safeties Xavier Nwankpa and Zion Branch
- Four-star cornerback Toriano Pride
- Four-star defensive tackle Nick James
The prospects who are already committed to be future Buckeyes, who Pantoni described as “our best recruiters,” will undoubtedly be trying to convince those targets to join them in the class of 2022 – and it wouldn’t be a surprise if two or three of those official visitors become commits themselves by the end of the month.
Several 2023 prospects are also expected to be on campus for unofficial visits over the weekend, including four-star defensive linemen Derrick Leblanc and John Walker, who are teammates at Osceola High School in Kissimmee, Florida; Zion Branch’s younger brother Zachariah Branch, a four-star wide receiver; five-star Indiana linebacker Drayk Bowen; and four-star California tight end Walker Lyons, who just received an offer from the Buckeyes earlier this month.
Buckeyes add another Rockwall WR as PWO
The latest preferred walk-on commitment for Ohio State came this past week from Corban Cleveland, a wide receiver from Rockwall, Texas.
If Rockwall sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also the hometown of Ohio State scholarship wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba. They played at different high schools, as Smith-Njigba played at Rockwall High School while Cleveland played at Rockwall Heath. According to his head coach Mike Spradlin, though, Cleveland shares some of the same qualities that have positioned Smith-Njigba to be Ohio State’s starting slot receiver in 2021.
Cleveland becomes the third preferred walk-on wide receiver in Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2021, joining in-state receivers Joop Mitchell and Reis Stocksdale. He’s Ohio State’s 10th total preferred walk-on in the class, also joining running back Cayden Saunders, tight end Zak Herbstreit, offensive lineman Toby Wilson, linebackers Jackson Kuwatch and Jalen Pace, kicker Garrison Smith and long snapper Mason Arnold.
Massachusetts tight end lands offer
Ohio State has already offered six tight ends in the recruiting class of 2023, with the latest offer going out to Preston Zinter, from Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on Thursday.
Zinter does not yet have a composite ranking from 247Sports, but has already picked up 12 offers, also including Arizona, Boston College, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Syracuse, USC, Vanderbilt and Rhode Island.
His older brother, Zak Zinter, is a sophomore offensive lineman at Michigan, where he started four games at right guard last season. The Wolverines have recruited Massachusetts heavily in recent years – they’re set to have eight players from the Bay State on their roster in 2021 – though it’s uncertain whether that will continue following the departure of former defensive coordinator Don Brown, who led their recruiting efforts in the state.