Ohio State Defensive End Targets On SI All-American’s Watch List

The Buckeyes are in the running for some of the nation’s top-rated edge defenders.
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With the high school football season right around the corner, SI All-American has been releasing watch lists throughout the month of July that effectively act as the network’s positional rankings for the 2022 recruiting cycle.

These watch lists precede the unveiling of the SI99 rankings, which will rank the 99 best high school football senior regardless of position in early August. 

The next position on the docket is defensive end, where Ohio State is still looking for its first commitment. Still, several of the Buckeyes’ top targets made the list, including Opa Locka (Fla.) Monsignor Pace five-star Shemar Stewart; Duncanville, Texas, five-star Omari Abor; Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna four-star Kenyatta Jackson; and Philadelphia Imhotep Institute Charter four-star Enai White.

The 6-foot-5 and 260-pound Stewart was on a campus for a one-day camp visit in early June, at which time he conducted a one-on-one workout with defensive line coach Larry Johnson. He comes in at No. 2 on the watch list.

“One of the tougher evaluations nationally, from a position projection perspective, Stewart would be among the best ranked on the edge or as an interior defensive lineman,” SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia said. “What pushed it over the top to keep him on the edge, where he has the most experience, is the sheer athleticism and length.

“Yes, Stewart has added to his frame and could work inside this fall with plenty of effectiveness, but his bend, balance and comfort lies on the outside. The Miami native hasn't sacrificed twitch as he has added good mass, with enough polish to continue to win with speed and/or counter with power. Improved work with his hands could take his game to the level that could push him to the top of the list.”

The 6-foot-4 and 240-pound Abor, meanwhile, took an official visit to Ohio State over the weekend of June 4-6, which is when the Buckeyes welcomed most of their commitments and several top targets to campus. He’s presumably down to Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC.

“A strong combination of technical ability and instincts off the edge, the Texan can win in many ways,” Garcia said of Abor, who sits at No. 4 on the watch list. “The first step and edge bending ability is obvious, but a closer look at how Abor combines it with his hands is where he becomes special. Advanced hand-fighting and block-shedding ability allow him to pressure the passer and/or gear down and play the run, even getting his hands on ball carriers well down the line of scrimmage at times.

“Abor is as disruptive as it gets in high school football, with that knack for making a play in the backfield and attacking the ball in the process -- not to mention doing it against some of the best prep competition anywhere. Few at any position have a stronger floor than he.”

The 6-foot-5 and 231-pound Jackson, who sits at No. 8 on the watch list, is the teammate of three-star cornerback commit Ryan Turner. The two took their official visits to Ohio State in late June and have discussed playing together in college, which is a good sign for the Buckeyes.

“Jackson is a crafty, bendy defensive end from the Sunshine State,” Garcia said. “He’s one of the most complete players at his position in this class. Explodes off the ball, and keeps his feet moving through the entire play. He’s got discipline hand placement and controls the middle part of the tackle’s pads.

“(Jackson) seldom gets washed due to his strength and constant foot fire. His hands never stop punching and swiping at the hands of the lineman. Great lateral quickness makes him a complete edge defender. Jackson is one of the gems of this position group. Probably strongest player on the field throughout his career. Physicality is one of his best strengths.”

Last but not least is White, who comes in at No. 18 on the watch list. He was on campus for an official visit at the same time as Jackson and Turner, and there’s a belief that his time in Columbus pushed the Buckeyes to the forefront of his recruitment.

“White put together such impressive sophomore film, we couldn’t leave him out of this list,” Garcia said. “He is one of the most sought after edge defenders in this class for a reason despite being raw. He’s high on virtually everybody’s board as a fast twitch sack machine.

“White is lanky but doesn’t play like it at all. He glides across the turf. Little junior film to evaluate, but we are confident in what we saw to confirm he is still presently one of the best edge defenders in the class of 2022. Extremely talented young athlete who may still be too low on the list.”

Ohio State has been well-represented on SI All-American’s watch lists thus far, with Southlake (Texas) Carroll five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers; Jacksonville Robert E. Lee five-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary; West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West four-star cornerback Jyaire Brown; Little Elm, Texas, four-star cornerback Terrance Brooks; Chandler, Ariz, four-star wide receiver Kyion Grayes; Austin (Texas) Lake Travis four-star wide receiver Caleb Burton; Chicago St. Rita four-star wide receiver Kaleb Brown; and Suwanee (Ga.) Lambert four-star Kojo Antwi among the commits mentioned for their respective positions.

Altogether, they give the Buckeyes the top-rated class in the network’s team recruiting rankings.

Positions still to be announced over the next week include running back, linebacker, defensive tackle, offensive tackle and interior offensive line. That will be followed by the full SI99 on Aug. 2.

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