The last two months on the recruiting trail have been noting short of spectacular, with prospects descending upon campus in droves in June and then Ohio State hosting yet another successful Buckeye Bash and BBQ in late July.
But now, with the college football calendar in the midst of another recruiting dead period, BuckeyesNow has decided to take a look at some of the top questions that need answered as Ohio State looks like wrap up the current cycle with another top-five class.
Will The Buckeyes Take Another Quarterback?
With Quinn Ewers reclassifying, Ohio State is now left without a quarterback in the current recruiting cycle.
On one hand, that’s a good problem to have. He’s able to dive head first into the playbook while cashing in on his name, image and likeness six months ahead of schedule. You also no longer have to worry about any rumors of him flipping back to Texas.
On the other, all four quarterbacks on the roster currently have the same eligibility and someone is likely to transfer in search of playing time elsewhere. That would leave the Buckeyes needing to add another signal-caller for depth – be it through the portal or class of 2022.
“It’s year to year,” head coach Ryan Day said on Aug. 3. “It really is, you just have to approach it that way. You try to plan, and it doesn’t always work out that way. We’ll continue to recruit guys in the next couple classes, we’ll figure out how it’ll play out because you just don’t know what’s coming next.
“There’s so much uncertainty going on in college football in general right now. If we just keep taking it one day at a time and keep that approach and don’t get frustrated, then we’re going to come out of this in a great position.”
So who could Ohio State target?
Well, it will be difficult to land an elite signal-caller given the crowded room, but there is one who might be willing to listen, even if he is currently committed to Penn State. In a normal year without a generational talent like Ewers in the fold, Medina, Ohio, four-star Drew Allar might already be committed to the Buckeyes.
Now, there’s no guaranteed he would take a phone call from Day, given the Nittany Lions are building a top-tier recruiting class of their own. But it’s worth a shot. And it’s not unreasonable to think he could be Ohio State’s starting quarterback in 2024, which would be his redshirt sophomore season.
Other in-state names to keep in mind include Centerville’s Chase Harrison (committed to Marshall), Cincinnati Princeton’s Mekhi Lynn (committed to Buffalo) and Springfield’s Te’Sean Smoot (uncommitted). There’s also bound to be some new names in the portal this offseason.
Who Wants In Along The Defensive Line?
There are several factors that have contributed to Ohio State being without a commitment along the defensive line for the current recruiting cycle, including the additional time spent pursuing freshman defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau and the recruiting dead period that stretched nearly 15 months.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson doesn’t seem worried by the slow start, though.
“You spend a year and a half recruiting J.T., and now we have to get some 2022 guys in here,” Johnson said on Aug. 17. “We’ve got a group of guys that we really like. Most kids, they’re going to take their time making their decisions. We’re not pressing them. We think we’re in good shape with all those guys, and we’ll see what happens.”
Johnson is a very personable recruiter with a methodical, hands-on approach. He’s just as much about building relationships as he is into developing first-round draft picks, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see that he’s not someone who will push a prospect into making a decision before they’re ready.
Still, the Buckeyes find themselves in a great spot for several elite defensive linemen with just under four months before the early signing period begins.
The plan is to take at least two ends from a group that includes Philadelphia Imhotep Institute Charter four-star Enai White; Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna Prep four-star Kenyatta Jackson; Opa Locka (Fla.) Monsignor Pace five-star Shemar Stewart; and Duncanville, Texas, five-star Omari Abor.
There’s also the matter of defensive tackle, where Ohio State aims to take three players among a group that includes Owasso, Okla., four-star Chris McClellan; Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic four-star Hero Kanu; Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove four-star Caden Curry; Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove four-star Christen Miller; and Merrillville, Ind., three-star Kenneth Grant.
Fall visits will ultimately tell the tale in a number of their respective recruitments, but it’s difficult to bet against Johnson in any one battle.
How Will Ohio State Fill Out The Secondary?
Ohio State appeared set at cornerback until Jacksonville Riverside – formerly Robert E. Lee – five-star Jaheim Singletary reopened his recruitment late last month.
It wasn’t exactly a surprise to see Singletary back off his pledge to the Buckeyes, as sources have indicated he wasn’t particularly close with any of the other commitments in the class and wasn’t too thrilled with how fellow Jacksonville native Shaun Wade was used in Ohio State's defense or how he was viewed by fans.
Now, there’s still a chance the staff is able to change his mind. It’ll take Singletary making his way to Columbus on his own dime for an unofficial visit this fall, but it’s far more likely he ends up with Georgia or Miami (Fla.) instead.
That said, Ohio State still has three cornerbacks in the class in Little Elm, Texas, four-star Terrance Brooks; West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West four-star Jyaire Brown; and Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna three-star Ryan Turner. The Buckeyes will be more than happy with that haul, as four cornerback commits was more of a luxury than a need.
There’s also the matter of Seffner (Fla.) Armwood three-star Kye Stokes, an athlete who could end up playing safety or nickel cornerback at the next level, which only further alleviates any concerns over Singletary’s decision.
Safety, meanwhile, has been pretty straightforward for months. In addition to Stokes, Ohio State’s top targets are far and away Altoona (Iowa) Southeast Polk four-star Xavier Nwankpa and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star Zion Branch.
The Buckeyes are widely viewed as the favorite to land Nwankpa but will have to hold off USC at every corner to land Branch. It certainly helps that both were on campus for an official weekend during the same visit in June, which allowed the staff to tell them at the same time how they would be deployed within the defense.
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