The Kanu Impact

Slowly but surely, Ohio State is building one of the nation’s top defensive line classes. At Saturday’s All-American Bowl the Buckeyes picked up yet another long time priority target up front in Rancho Santa Margarita (Cali.) Santa Margarita Catholic defensive tackle Hero Kanu. The German import gives Ohio State four highly ranked defensive linemen now in the 2022 recruiting class.

What Ohio State is getting

Kanu would probably be best summed up as a “new age” one-tech. During Larry Johnson’s tenure, speed and explosiveness at all four defensive line positions have been the top criteria in evaluating defensive linemen, even with nose guards.

Kanu fits that bill perfectly and he does it in a prototype one-tech body. At 6-foot-3, 295-pounds, Kanu has the size to eat up space and blockers in the middle but without sacrificing athleticism. He has an extraordinary get off for a young player at almost 300-pounds and is able to shoot gaps in the run game and also get after the quarterback.

Ohio State fans have often wondered why the Buckeyes don’t go after more “space eating” defensive tackles that are listed at 300-pounds or more and the simple answer is that there are very few human beings in a given recruiting cycle who weigh in that range who aren’t projects that will need to reshape their bodies. Of those select few, many of them come from the South which is a tough place to go in and recruit unique prospects like Dexter Lawrence or Derrick Brown.

But Kanu is exactly that type of big-bodied athlete and he’s still only 17 years old as he could have very easily been a class of 2023 prospect. Watching Kanu at camp over the summer, it was shocking how advanced he already was given his age and his background. Putting all of that together, the sky is the limit here and this is one of the most important “gets” for the Buckeyes in this entire class.

What it means for recruiting

Ohio State has now hit the minimum number of defensive linemen that it wanted to hit in this 2022 recruiting cycle. But the Buckeyes are hoping that they aren’t finished with four-star Cedar Grove (Ga.) defensive tackle Christen Miller still in play and planning to announce his decision on February 2nd.

It’s a great position for Ohio State to be in with four outstanding defensive line prospects locked in and the opportunity to play with house money for a fifth. Kanu fits in perfectly with the group that Ohio State has assembled as really the only one-tech in the group, even if the Buckeyes are able to land Miller.

With or without Miller, defensive tackle will likely be a bigger focal point than end (though you always need to reload at both spots) in 2023. Ohio State has seen a lot of turnover due to graduation and early entry at the position over the past couple of seasons and there. Early on, prospects such as Keith Sampson Jr., A’Mauri Washington, and Kayden McDonald are just a few of the early defensive tackle targets with Florida star Derrick LeBlanc also a potential tackle at the next level.

Another interesting component to landing Kanu is that it could open Ohio State up to the ever-increasing number of European prospects. The Buckeyes have maintained good relationships with programs like Premiere Prospects International (PPI) but in landing Kanu, one of the best prospects the program has ever produced, this could certainly give the Buckeyes a nice boost within that program with many other intriguing prospects coming down the pike over the next few years.