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2023 Dublin (Ohio) Coffman Defensive Lineman Will Smith Jr. Commits To Ohio State

Smith will follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a team captain, All-American and national champion with the Buckeyes.

When Ohio State extended an offer to Dublin (Ohio) Coffman three-star defensive end Will Smith Jr. on Jan. 14, it felt like only a matter of time before he jumped at the opportunity. And after taking a little more than a week to mull his options, he committed to the Buckeyes on Sunday evening.

The 6-foot-3 and 260-pound Smith Jr. – who is considered the 71st defensive lineman and No. 540 prospect overall in the class of 2023 – is the son of the late Will Smith, who was a team captain, first-team All-American, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and national champion during his career at Ohio State from 2000-03.

Smith went on to have a nine-year career in the NFL after being selected by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, which included a win in Super Bowl XLIV and a Pro Bowl appearance. He was tragically shot and killed following a traffic accident in New Orleans in 2016.

Smith Jr. attended several Ohio State games with his father growing up, but made his first visit as a recruit for the blowout win over Maryland in early October. He then returned for the victory of Purdue in mid-November to continue building a relationship with the staff.

The Buckeyes didn’t initially offer because defensive line coach Larry Johnson wanted to see how Smith Jr. continue to develop as a player. But when the recruiting dead period came to an end, one of the first stops he and new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles made was to Coffman, at which time they extended the offer.

How Smith Jr.'s Commitment Impacts Ohio State's 2023 Recruiting Class

Smith Jr. made his way back to campus for an unofficial visit this weekend, which ultimately sealed the deal for Ohio State over double-digit offers from the likes of Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Kentucky, Northwestern, Pittsburgh and West Virginia. 

He becomes the fourth member of the Buckeyes' 2023 recruiting class, joining Thompson’s Station (Tenn.) four-star tight end Ty Lockwood; Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne four-star offensive guard Joshua Padilla; and Cocoa, Fla., four-star safety Cedrick Hawkins.


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