COLUMBUS, Ohio – In today’s issue of Hey, Stephen! I cover Ohio State Football’s recruiting efforts in 2024.
Hello Stefan: When can we expect OSU to land a top 100 guy on the defensive side of the ball? — 440 area code.
Hey, 440: I think it’s a fair assumption that unless the top 100 defenseman is from Ohio or has strong Ohio ties, until the opposite shows with Ryan Day as head coach, things will always be slow for this team .
Cody Simon was the only person to qualify as such in 2020, and he didn’t commit until late June 2019. The class of 2021 was the breakaway, with guys coming in early thanks to Jack Sawyer, Reid Carrico and Mike Hall Jr. being kids in the state. But the Buckeyes’ ability to adapt to recruiting during a pandemic also led to them getting JK Johnson in March 2020. Again, they got on board in early 2022 because they had CJ Hicks and Gabe Powers in their backyard, but they had to wait until October 2021 to get Kenyatta Jackson, and Omari Abor didn’t join until the late signing stage.
The 2023 class offered more of that. Jason Moore and Calvin Simpson-Hunt were the only guys who were already Top 100 prospects at the time of their signing, with both only signing after their official visits last June. Even if you include Jermaine Mathews in this conversation, he didn’t come on board until July.
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Outside of the time when the world was grappling with a one-off pandemic, the defensive side doesn’t usually really get the ball rolling until summer. Much of this has to do with the revenue this team has seen since Day first joined Columbus as an assistant coach in 2017, and also reflects the product on the field. OSU’s defense has a lot more to prove each year than its offense. It also means it has to work so much harder and so much longer to get the guys to commit. It’s neither negative nor positive, it’s just reality.
The same reality will exist in 2024, where the only defensive commitment is Garrett Stover — who has family ties — as the No. 176 player and No. 17 athlete. The only player who could do what Carrico, Hall, Hicks, Powers and Sawyer have done is five-star cornerback Bryce West, but he’s unlikely to pick a school this far from signing day will, so that’s off the table.
Ohio State has offered 53 defenders this cycle, 30 of whom are in the country’s top 100, although that number could rise by the end of Monday when a handful of California kids are expected to be in town.
The defensive line is responsible for 14 of those, with Larry Johnson’s recruiting style always being more of a marathon than a sprint. Six are linebackers, which is interesting to watch this cycle because of potential post-season attrition.
Jim Knowles’ lack of recruiting reputation may be helped by the recent hiring of James Laurinaitis as a man who might one day just be Brian Hartline’s defensive end.
The other 10 are defenders, although Georgia has already claimed three of them. This point will be important in any cycle for a defense that’s been described as safety-oriented while putting a lot of pressure on their cornerbacks to perform on the outside.
There are also currently three types classified as athletes who, like Stover, are recruited as defensive players.
As things stand, there’s no reason to think Ohio State’s defensive recruiting will pay off by this summer. The last four cycles have proven this to be true. For now, the focus is on getting as many of these players on campus as possible, whether for unofficial visits this spring and/or official visits this summer.
We have typically seen the horse chestnut benefit from this approach in past cycles. Most likely, this will also be the case in this cycle.
Click here to see the entire Ohio State Recruitment Course 2024.
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