The Buckeyes are in the running for three five-star edge rushers in the class, with each expected to make a decision between now and signing day. They only need one of them to sign for this to be another successful cycle on the defensive line, but would surely take more if that ever became a reality.
The nation’s No. 28 player and No. 5 edge rusher is now one step closer to his decision after publicly dwindling his list down to OSU, Oregon and USC.
For most of the past year, Uiagalelei has looked like Ohio State’s best chance at a five-star edge rusher in this cycle. Keon Keeley — No. 10 player and No. 1 edge rusher — spent a year as a Notre Dame commit before decommitting in August and making this a battle with Alabama, which looks to be setting itself up for another win. No. 12 player and No. 2 edge rusher Damon Wilson’s recruitment has been steady and has turned into a battle with Georgia where the NIL realities now playing a role in recruiting have been a factor.
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For Uiagalelei, it’s about being the latest five-star pass rusher to sign up for Larry Johnson’s defensive line school or staying close to home.
USC’s hiring of Lincoln Riley has made the Trojans relevant again as he attempts to build a wall around one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. Oregon has often taken advantage of USC’s down years, pulling guys like Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe — now in the transfer portal — out of California in recent years. But the Ducks could also add another wrinkle to the equation if they so choose to this summer in the attempt to make Eugene feel more like home.
His older brother, D.J. Uiagalelei, has spent the last two seasons as Clemson’s starting quarterback as a former five-star recruit in the 2020 class. His career hasn’t quite panned out the same way as his counterparts in that class — Bryce Young at Alabama and C.J. Stroud at Ohio State — so he is going through a different version of the concept of being a three-and-done player. He’s now in the transfer portal looking for a home, and the question is whether his destination could impact where his younger brother goes.
Or maybe D.J.’s decision will have no impact on things as the two go on their separate paths. Regardless, the Buckeyes are in the thick of it with Uiagalelei as they are with Keeley and Wilson. They are going to finish second in at least one of these races, but the goal is not to strike out by making that the case with all of them.
In the meantime, Ohio State will give each an in-home visit over the next few weeks to put its final punctuation on each recruitment. Then comes the waiting game, hoping that at least one goes in their favor.
To see Ohio State’s full 2023 recruiting class, click here.
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