We are now less than six months away from the 2022 class putting pen to paper and heading off to their future colleges. As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes already have 16 commits and likely single-digit spots left in this class.
However, the Buckeyes have yet to land their first commitment in the 2023 class, so why don’t we lay out the road map for how Ohio State would like the class to go. First, we have to establish who the vocal leaders of this class will be on both sides of the ball.
Offensive Leader: Luke Montgomery, Offensive Tackle, Findlay (OH)
This one is rather simple, Montgomery has one of the biggest personalities you’ll find in a recruiter and at this point it’s hard not to see him picking the Buckeyes. With that in mind, Montgomery should — and likely will — take the role of a vocal leader in Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class. At least Ohio State hopes he will. Much like Jack Sawyer and C.J. Hicks before him, Montgomery is a big talker that knows just about everyone. So the sooner Ryan Day and company can get Montgomery committed the better.
Defensive Leader: A.J. Harris, Cornerback, Glenwood School (AL)
Okay, this one is a bit more interesting than saying Luke Montgomery will be a Buckeye. Nonetheless, after seeing AJ Harris in June and talking to the whole family, it’s hard to not like where Ohio State stands with him. Yes, he lives in Alabama and is right on the Georgia border but Harris does not seem like a surefire SEC automatic recruit. With that in mind, this recruitment likely comes down to Notre Dame, Clemson, and Ohio State. All three have the culture, academics, and staying power at the top of the college football landscape. However, only one of them has Kerry Coombs, who could be the trump card in this recruitment. If the Buckeyes are able to add him to the class early it gives them another big talker with major pull in the southeast.
With the leaders of the class established, let’s talk about the top targets they will be focusing their efforts on.
Priority Number One: Sonny Styles, Defender, Pickerington Central (OH)
Recruiting under Ryan Day has gone so well that overall the Buckeyes don’t need any one position desperately more than another in 2023. As a result, we don’t have to say the biggest name quarterback or defensive end, but even if we did, Styles would still be our pick. To have the country’s top safety prospect in your backyard — who also stands at 6-foot-5 and weighs 215 pounds — is rare, so when it happens you cannot let him get away. And despite the fact that Notre Dame pulled defensive end Brennan Vernon in 2023 and landed Styles’ older brother Lorenzo in 2021, it’s hard to see Ohio State losing out on Sonny. All the stops will be pulled, all the i’s will be dotted, and all the t’s will be crossed on Ohio State’s end when it comes to this recruitment.
Others considered: Carnell Tate, Wide Receiver, IMG Academy (FL) – Matayo Uiagalelei, Defensive End, St. John Bosco (CA) – Richard Young, Running Back, Lehigh Acres (FL)
Naturally, there are going to be names left off the top target list simply because so many could be on the list, and sometimes because they aren’t as much of a priority for Ohio State as some fans might hope. Nevertheless, the next section on our road map goes out to some prospects that may be intriguing because of their ranking or fit at Ohio State, but might not be as likely as the targets above.
Intriguing Targets: Kadyn Proctor, Offensive Tackle, Southeast Polk (IA)
This was without a doubt the hardest section to map out because Ohio State doesn’t have a whole lot of needs, especially if we are already giving them Montgomery and Harris. That’s a five-star cornerback and top-50 offensive tackle as a headstart, but still you can never have too many talented offensive linemen, so Proctor gets the nod. And he is in this section because at this point he just seems unlikely to end up in Columbus. But playing devil’s advocate, he did take an unofficial visit to Ohio State last month and if the Buckeyes are able to land his teammate Xavier Nwankpa in 2022, that could be a big help. Still, it’s a bit too early in Proctor’s recruitment to say the Buckeyes are in a strong spot and that’s one of the requirements to be moved up the board.
Others considered: Brandon Inniss, Wide Receiver, American Heritage (FL) – Tony Mitchell, Cornerback, Thompson (AL) – Malik Bryant, Defensive End, IMG Academy (FL)
That’s all we have on the recruits’ side of things. The leaders are set, top targets are established, and some of the big chase names are known as well. Now let’s move on to the biggest thing standing in Ohio State’s way from achieving all their goals in the 2023 cycle.
Biggest Obstacle: Marcus Freeman and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish
We are not breaking any news here but Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman is darn good at his job, whether it’s on Saturdays or on the recruiting trail. He already helped the Irish land Mentor (OH) defensive end Brenan Vernon — and that’s before he coached a down with the Golden Domers. By the time 2023 is at the forefront of recruiting, Freeman will have one season under his belt in South Bend and an upcoming matchup against the Buckeyes. If Freeman does what many expect him to do, then he should put together a very good first season in South Bend as most see him as the next big coaching star in college football. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Freeman takes a head coaching job elsewhere by the time this 2023 group arrives on campus. That would throw a wrench into things. In the meantime, Freeman is not afraid to fight Ohio State tooth and nail for any Ohio or defensive recruit he wants.
Others considered: The Clemson Tigers
That’s the road map so why don’t we end this with five way-too-early predictions for players to land at Ohio State.
- Carnell Tate, Wide Receiver, IMG Academy (FL)
- Richard Young, Running Back, Lehigh Acres (FL)
- Derrick LeBlanc, Defensive Line, Osceola (FL)
- Joshua Padilla, Offensive Line, Wayne (OH)
- Sonny Styles. Defender, Pickerington Central (OH)
All in all, the 2023 class has the potential to be a very, very good one for Ohio State. However, it might not be the highest-ranked, seeing as they aren’t looking to take a big-time quarterback and numbers might be smaller. Nevertheless, the talent at Ohio State will not dip one iota with this class.