New year, new recruiting cycle.
With Ohio State only holding three commitments for the 2024 cycle in Garrett Stover, Jeremiah Smith and Ian Moore, there are plenty of prospects worthy of one of the top 12 spots on Eleven Warriors’ monthly editorial on Ohio State’s top recruiting targets, the Heat Check.
In our first edition of the new year, we’ve come up with six offensive players and six defensive players for Ohio State’s recruiting board. Rankings were based on many factors, including roster needs for the Buckeyes in future seasons, the caliber of the player and how likely that player is to come to Columbus on National Signing Day.
It’s not an exact science, as only three of the 11 players listed in the first Heat Check for the 2023 class ended up signing with the Buckeyes. But this is the place to dream of what a top-ranked Ohio State recruiting class could look like, so let’s have at it.
|PROSPECT||POSITION||RANK||PREV.||RATING||OTHERS IN THE MIX|
|BRYCE WEST||CB||2||NA||★★★★★||Michigan•Michigan State•Penn State|
|JORDAN MARSHALL||RB||3||NA||★★★★||Notre Dame•Michigan•Tennessee|
|CHARLES LESTER III||CB||4||NA||★★★★★||Alabama•Florida State•Florida•Georgia|
|JOSHISA TRADER||WR||7||NA||★★★★★||Florida•Florida State•Miami•Tennessee|
|MYLAN GRAHAM||WR||8||NA||★★★★||Alabama•Notre Dame•Tennessee|
|JUSTIN SCOTT||DT||10||NA||★★★★★||Notre Dame•Alabama•USC|
|KAM PRINGLE||OT||11||NA||★★★★||South Carolina•Tennessee•Miami|
|NIGEL SMITH||DE||12||NA||★★★★||Oklahoma•Texas A&M•Texas|
Ohio State struck out on landing the top-rated safety in the 2023 class in Caleb Downs. It doesn’t want history to repeat itself for another cycle. But Bolden, the top-rated safety in 2024, has visited Ohio State multiple times over the past year and has a personal connection to OSU safeties coach Perry Eliano. While landing Bolden is far from a certainty, Ohio State figures to be in the race with this recruitment right until the end.
The Buckeyes will always try to keep the top Ohio players in the state. In 2024, not only is West rated the top player in Ohio, but he’s one of the top cornerbacks in the nation as a five-star prospect. West has grown up rooting for the Buckeyes since he was little and said as much after receiving his offer. But that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion West will pick the Buckeyes. The Glenville product plans to take his recruitment the distance, so Ohio State will need to consistently recruit the talented Ohio player.
It should be no surprise two of the top three targets on Ohio State’s recruiting board are in-state. Although, unlike West, Marshall didn’t necessarily grow up rooting for the Buckeyes and definitely shouldn’t be counted as an Ohio shoo-in to join the 2024 class. But OSU still has a terrific chance to land the talented Cincinnati product. Tony Alford has worked hard to develop a connection with Marshall over the past six months, and OSU will have to impress him over the next few months as he approaches a decision either over the spring or early summer.
Charles Lester III
Considering the current makeup of Ohio State’s roster, it’s probably not surprising that two of the top four spots on the Heat Check are five-star cornerbacks. Lester III visited OSU earlier this fall and put the Buckeyes on his top five on Sunday, along with Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Florida State. If you’re one to dream, a tandem of West and Lester manning the secondary would put fear in the hearts of opposing wideouts.
Brown is the undisputed top linebacker target for Ohio State this cycle. Many other schools will say the same thing about the top-rated backer in 2024, including southern powers Georgia and Alabama. Ohio State should be in the mix for Brown, as he’s already considering visiting Columbus in the spring and summer. Can Jim Knowles strike gold here after missing out on Tackett Curtis a cycle ago?
Ohio State is likely in the driver’s seat for the nation’s top-rated interior offensive lineman. Seaton visited OSU for the Michigan game in November and told Eleven Warriors he had a “very eventful visit.” With Indiana offensive tackle Ian Moore already in the fold, landing Seaton would give OSU offensive line coach Justin Frye a hell of a head start in landing multiple elite linemen for the recruiting class of 2024.
Ohio State has already landed Trader’s teammate in the 2024 class, five-star prospect Jeremiah Smith. Brian Hartline would love to continue to add to his recruiting mastery for yet another cycle, but courting Trader to the Buckeyes won’t be easy. OSU made Trader’s top five, along with Miami, Florida State, Florida and Tennessee. Pulling the talented prospect out of his home state of Florida won’t be easy, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Hartline.
It’s not every day you see a prospect’s first offer come from Ohio State. But that’s exactly what happened with Graham in June when he was an unranked recruit and impressed Brian Hartline at a recruiting camp. Graham’s national exposure exploded after that, as he now finds himself ranked as a top-35 recruit nationally. The Indiana prospect visited OSU multiple times this season and has built a strong relationship with Hartline, giving the Buckeyes more than a puncher’s chance to land the talented prospect.
Of the 12 targets on Ohio State’s recruiting board, Bentancur will likely be the one that makes his decision first. In fact, the four-star Illinois product is a surefire bet not to be on next month’s list, as he’ll either commit to the Buckeyes, Clemson or Oregon on Jan. 13. Bentancur is the Buckeyes’ top tight end target in the 2024 cycle, and he made several visits to Columbus this fall. OSU won’t wait long to find out if it did enough to haul in the pass-catching tight end.
Scott is a multi-dimensional lineman that could have collegiate success on either the offensive or defensive sides of the ball. Still, the Chicago product projects to be his best at defensive tackle. Scott visited Ohio State for the Rutgers game earlier this fall, and the Buckeyes figure to be in the mix for him throughout his process. But heavy hitters are involved in the Scott pursuit, including Alabama, USC, Notre Dame and others.
The first offensive tackle on the list is down at No. 11, but with a top-60 prospect already in the fold in Moore, landing a true offensive tackle prospect seems less desperate than it did in the last cycle. But this is Ohio State, and the Buckeyes can never have enough tackle prospects. Pringle would give the Buckeyes a truly elite tackle to pair with Moore, though it will be a tall task prying him from South Carolina or any other southern school, but it’s not over till it’s over.
Smith has visited Ohio State many times over the past year and has developed a strong relationship with Larry Johnson. His presence would instantly bolster Ohio State’s defensive end corps, though the Buckeyes will have stiff competition to land him from Oklahoma and other southern schools.
After writing the first edition of the Heat Check for 2024, it’s all too telling there are plenty of more apparent snubs for the top 12 spots on the board than the final few editions of 2023.
There’s no doubt a quarterback prospect will crack the Heat Check before the Early Singing Period. It’s just a matter of who it will be. After the decommitment of Dylan Raiola, we reviewed a few options OSU could target as a replacement. It wouldn’t be surprising to see one end up on the board before too long, someone like, oh, I don’t know, Jadyn Davis?
Five-star wide receiver Micah Hudson is an obvious candidate to be added to the board at some point. Hudson visited OSU for a game last fall, so there is still mutual interest on that front. Ohio State is also searching for that elusive two-tight end class, and pairing Bentancur and Damarion Witten together would be a dream for new tight ends coach Keenan Bailey.
Ohio State is fond of several running backs in 2024, including Stacy Gage and Boo Carter. Four-star safety Peyton Woodyard would make a fantastic addition to OSU’s 2024 class. Still, he’s expected to commit this weekend, and it’s uncertain that he’ll pick the Buckeyes as he currently has a 247Sports projection to Georgia.
The Buckeyes are high on a trio of defensive ends, KingJoseph Edwards, Dylan Stewart and Eddrick Houston, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of them crack the board when all is said and done. As for linebackers, Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa and Kristopher Jones are both prospects that are potential impact players and have made visits to OSU multiple times. Four-star offensive lineman Donovan Harbour has been fascinated with the Buckeyes for much of the last year and would be another high-caliber offensive lineman added to the 2024 cycle. Rounding things out with in-state players, OSU considers both Aaron Scott Jr. and Elias Rudolph top targets for the current cycle.
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