Montgomery (Ala.) Carver five-star defensive linemen James Smith and Qua Russaw both included Ohio State in their top six on Friday afternoon alongside Alabama, Alabama State, Auburn, Florida and Georgia.
Neither Smith, who is considered the second-best defensive tackle and No. 13 overall prospect in the class of 2023, nor Russaw, who is considered the third-best edge defender and No. 26 prospect overall in the class of 2023, have been to campus to this point.
They have, however, been in contact with defense coordinator Jim Knowles and defensive line coach Larry Johnson, as the Buckeyes are still looking to add three or four more defensive linemen this cycle alongside Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha Catholic four-star end Jason Moore and Dublin (Ohio) Coffman three-star tackle Will Smith Jr.
Smith and Russaw already took official visits with the Bulldogs and Tigers in June and have another scheduled with the Crimson Tide in December. That means the Buckeyes, Gators and Hornets are jockeying for the final two visits for both players, who – if it wasn’t already obvious based upon their top schools – intend to play together at the next level, as well.
If Ohio State is ultimately successful in getting both players on campus this fall, as sources indicate they’re in the process of setting up a trip to Columbus for the regular-season finale against Michigan on Nov. 26, it would go a long way toward addressing needs along the defensive front.
Other names to keep in mind in the trenches include Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco five-star end Matayo Uiagalelei; Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep five-star end Keon Keeley; Venice, Fla., five-star end Damon Wilson; Upper Marlboro (Md.) C.H. Flowers four-star end Desmond Umeozulu; Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett four-star tackle Kayden McDonald; and Jacksonville (Fla.) Westside four-star tackle Jordan Hall.
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