OBETZ, Ohio — The process of evaluating the class of 2023 has been a slow one across the nation. Without college camps or in-person evaluation opportunities for well over a year now, identifying the next wave of talent has proven to be more difficult than usual.
A few priority targets have already emerged for the Buckeyes, however, and none bigger than Pickerington (Ohio) Central star Alex ‘Sonny’ Styles. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound prospect is coming off a tremendous sophomore season, one that led to an early scholarship offer from Ohio State. On Sunday, Styles was one of the most physically impressive prospects in attendance at a loaded Under Armour camp just southeast of Columbus.
“I like to compete, so it was pretty fun out there,” said Styles after the camp. “A couple of guys caught the ball on me so that makes me mad but that’s going to happen sometimes. It’s a little frustrating not being able to hit anybody at these camps, that’s a big part of my game, but you can still be a little physical out here like I was today.”
Like all 2023 prospects Styles’ recruiting process has been slowed by the extended Dead Period. It certainly appears as though it could finally be coming to an end on May 31st. If it does, Styles plans to take full advantage and start visiting schools and doing his research.
“I don’t have any set dates but I’m going to get to as many schools as I can,” he stated. “Schools like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State. My dad (is close with) one of the coaches at North Carolina, Dre’ Bly, so we’re going to try to get down there as soon as we can.”
Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington has been all over the Styles recruitment for the Buckeyes and despite the lack of in-person communication, Washington has already made an impression on the potential five-star prospect.
“I talk to coach (Al) Washington and coach (Tim) Hinton and coach (Ryan) Day a little bit,” Styles said of his communication with Ohio State. “I really like coach Washington. He’s very straightforward and he’s not going to sugarcoat anything. I’m really looking forward to building a relationship with him. I haven’t been able to go to any schools really so I’d like to get to campus and meet face-to-face with him.”
Ohio State will likely be fighting several national powers for Styles before it is all said and done, but Notre Dame is the one that poses the biggest threat early on. Styles’ older brother, Lorenzo Jr., signed with the Fighting Irish in the 2021 class. The Buckeyes and Fighting Irish have had some interesting battles in recent history in terms of splitting brothers. The Styles brothers are close, but this will ultimately come down to being the best fit for Sonny.
“It would be good to play with my brother at the next level but that’s not going to be a big part of my decision,” he said. “Even Notre Dame was telling me that this is my recruitment and it’s not going to be about my brother at all.”
Another interesting dynamic in Styles’ recruitment will be the vision each coaching staff has for him. He is perhaps the most versatile defensive prospect in Ohio, regardless of class, and each staff will have a chance to pitch the right position and system fit.
“I’ve heard some coaches that want to play me at safety, but a lot of coaches have said outside linebacker,” Styles explained. “Some coaches are saying more of a safety/linebacker hybrid so it just depends. Of course I could get taller and bigger and maybe end up on the line. I don’t really see that, but it just depends. I’m pretty open but I kind of want to play multiple positions and be versatile.”