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2022 Safety Xavier Nwankpa Commits To Iowa Over Ohio State, Notre Dame

The Buckeyes miss out on one of their top remaining defensive targets, who opts to stay home instead.

Although he was one of Ohio State’s top defensive targets for the current recruiting cycle, Altoona (Iowa) Southeast Polk four-star safety Xavier Nwankpa celebrated his 18th birthday by committing to the home-state Hawkeyes on Wednesday evening,

The 6-foot-2 and 190-pound Nwankpa, who is considered the fourth-best safety and No. 42 prospect overall in the class of 2022, landed an offer from the Buckeyes back in September 2020. He then took an official visit with the prog in June before returning for an unofficial visit for the win over Penn State in late October.

Iowa has always been viewed as the biggest threat in Nwankpa’s recruitment, mostly due to proximity, as he lives about an hour west of the Hawkeyes’ campus. He’s been there numerous times as a result, including an unofficial visit over the summer and an official visit in early October.

Notre Dame was also one of Nwankpa’s finalists and made a late push when he unofficially visited South Bend later that month. But in the end, the opportunity for him to be a home-state hero was simply too much for the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish to overcome.

While missing out on Nwankpa is certainly a big deal for Ohio State given the time and effort put into recruiting him, the staff has always viewed him and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star Zion Branch – who is widely expected to pick USC next week – as a luxury.

The Buckeyes already have several young safeties on the roster in freshmen Jantzen Dunn, Andre Turrentine and Jaylen Johnson and hold a commitment from 2022 Seffner (Fla.) Armwood four-star Kye Stokes, as well. Add in the fact that Pickerington (Ohio) Central five-star Sonny Styles reclassified to from the 2023 cycle earlier today, and it lessens the sting even more. 

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