Four hundred and forty-five days after it was implemented, college football’s recruiting dead period is finally over.
Prospects are once again allowed to conducted official and unofficial visits and have in-person interaction with coaches for the first time since March 13, 2020, when college sports were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That means a wave of prospects will descend upon Columbus this month, with 51 official and 150-200 unofficial visitors expected between June 1-28, when the recruiting calendar briefly returns to a dead period.
“Obviously, for one month, it’s very overwhelming,” Ohio State director of player personnel Mark Pantoni said during his media availability last Friday. “In a normal year, we probably get get into the high 40s to low 50s, so this is pretty extraordinary.
“It’s exciting. We’re just trying to take it day by day right now, but starting next Tuesday, it’s on. It’s all hands on deck and we’re going to do everything we can to just make it as smooth as possible.”
The Buckeyes have already opened the doors to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, welcoming 2022 Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove four-star defensive tackle Christen Miller and 2023 Findlay, Ohio, four-star offensive tackle Luke Montgomery to campus on Tuesday for the first of two unofficial visits they have scheduled with the program this month.
That will be followed by the first one-day camp in almost two years on Wednesday, which is set to see a number of talented players participate, including 2022 Ohio State five-star linebacker commit C.J. Hicks; 2023 Pickerington (Ohio) Central five-star safety Sonny Styles; 2023 West Bloomfield, Mich., four-star offensive guard Amir Herring; 2023 Springfield, Ohio, three-star wide receiver Anthony Brown; and Washington Court House, Ohio, three-star tight end Tanner Lemaster, among others.
The Buckeyes will also see a number of rising junior quarterbacks throw the ball on Wednesday, including Downey (Calif.) Warren four-star Nicholaus Iamaleava and Kennesaw (Ga.) North Cobb four-star Malachi Singleton.
“The more you can see them in person and work out, especially for a quarterback, it’s just so important to see the ball come out of their hand live,” Pantoni said. “(Quarterbacks coach) Corey (Dennis) has done a great job of getting a large number of the 2023 kids up here in the next few weeks, so that will provide us an opportunity to get a head start and help our evaluations, for sure.”
The first weekend of the month is perhaps the most important, as Ohio State is set to welcome 10 of their 12 commitments from the class of 2022 – including Hicks; Southlake (Texas) Carroll five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers; Austin (Texas) Lake Travis five-star wide receiver Caleb Burton; Marysville, Ohio, four-star linebacker Gabe Powers; West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West four-star cornerback Jyaire Brown and four-star offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola; Chandler, Ariz, four-star wide receiver Kyion Grayes; Pilot Mountain (N.C.) East Surry four-star tight end Benji Gosnell; Acworth (Ga.) Allatoona four-star tight end Bennett Christian; and Seffner (Fla.) Armwood three-star athlete Kye Stokes – for what has been dubbed Buckeye Bash 2.0.
“Since they've been so loyal to us, we wanted them to get here that first weekend, just because they deserve it,” Pantoni said. “They deserve to all be here together, get to know each other. They are our best recruiters. Them along with our current players.”
Several priority targets will also be in attendance for their official visits, including 2022 Lynchburg (Va.) Liberty Christian Academy five-star offensive tackle Zach Rice; 2022 Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne four-star offensive tackle Aamil Wagner; 2022 Duncanville, Texas, four-star defensive end Omari Abor; 2022 Montgomery (Ala.) Park Crossing four-star defensive end Khurtiss Perry; 2022 Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy four-star defensive tackle Dominick James; 2022 St. Louis Lutheran North four-star cornerback Toriano Pride; 2022 Altoona (Iowa) Southeast Polk four-star safety Xavier Nwankpa; and 2022 Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star safety Zion Branch.
Branch’s younger brother, 2023 four-star wide receiver Zachariah Branch, is among the several underclassmen who will be on campus over the weekend, as well. That list includes Merrillville (Ind.) Andrean five-star linebacker Drayk Bowen and pair of teammates from Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola in four-star defensive linemen Derrick Leblanc and John Walker.
And that’s just the first week alone, so stay tuned to BuckeyesNow and SI All-American for all of the happenings throughout the month of June.
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