'Pound for pound, it's one of the best': Ohio State's 2022 recruiting full of twists, but still elite
When the letters-of-intent arrive on Wednesday, Ohio State will have assembled another top-5 recruiting class.
That has been the norm since Urban Meyer arrived a decade ago, and Ryan Day has continued the success. Ohio State has 19 commitments heading into the early signing period and hopes to add at least a couple more blue-chippers. The Buckeyes rank fourth in the 247Sports.com composite team rankings behind Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M.
"Pound for pound, it's one of the best recruiting classes in the country,' said Steve Wiltfong, director of recruiting for 247Sports.
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But it has been anything but a linear path to this point.
“There's been a lot of ebbs and flows for Ohio State,” Bucknuts.com recruiting expert Bill Kurelic said.
Six months ago, for example, quarterback Quinn Ewers was the crown jewel of an OSU recruiting class ranked No. 1 nationally.
That seems like a long time ago. Ewers reclassified to the 2021 class and enrolled early at Ohio State to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities. His only playing time consisted of two mop-up snaps in the Michigan State game, and he then transferred to the University of Texas, the school to which he’d originally committed.
The Buckeyes went more than three months starting in July without adding a commitment. As recently as the beginning of December, some wondered if Ohio State might limp into Signing Day.
But the Buckeyes got the commitment last week of Utah quarterback Devin Brown, who outshined Ewers at the Elite 11 competition in the summer.
“Devin Brown is a great quarterback,” Kurelic said. “That’s who they targeted at the end.”
Brown, the No. 53 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, is the highest-rated offensive player in the Buckeyes’ class.
Most of the top-ranked players in the class are on defense, which can use the help. Leading the way are five-star linebacker C.J. Hicks from Kettering Alter and versatile five-star safety Sonny Styles from Pickerington Central. Hicks is ranked 12th nationally and Styles 13th.
"Those guys are freaks," Wiltfong said. "Those guys are potential first-rounders down the road. Just unique athletes."
Kurelic said Hicks' production matches his athleticism.
"He makes plays at all three levels of the defense, whether it be rushing the passer, stopping the run, dropping into coverage or even playing some safety," he said.
The 6-4, 215-pound Styles could be used in several roles, according to Kurelic.
"He’s a gazelle,” he said. “It’s hard to say exactly what he’s going to be in college because there are so many possibilities.”
Styles was also originally a member of the recruiting class of 2023, until he reclassified earlier this month.
The Buckeyes have five other commitments ranked in the top 75 nationally — Texas cornerback Terrance Brooks (59th), Marysville linebacker Gabe Powers (61st), Texas wide receiver Caleb Burton (68th), defensive end Kenyatta Jackson (70th) and Chicago receiver Kaleb Brown (72nd).
The Brooks commitment is shaky, however. Wiltfong said Brooks might sign instead with his home-state Longhorns.
Of the others in the top 75, Powers might have the best chance to make an immediate impact. At 6-4, 230 pounds, Powers already has prototypical size, and linebacker is a position of need given the way that unit has played this season.
"Gabe Powers is someone that can come in and push the room," Wiltfong said.
The additions of Burton and Kaleb Brown, as well as Kyion Grayes (who's ranked 106th) further stock Brian Hartline's deep receiver room.
"Their receivers are going to be among the best in the country for years to come," Wiltfong said.
The Buckeyes have only five commitments from linemen, one of whom is four-star defensive lineman Caden Curry. The Greenwood, Indiana, native on Tuesday announced he had chosen Ohio State over Alabama. Three are on the offensive line.
Ohio State is poised to add to that.
The Buckeyes are considered to have a good chance to sign defensive linemen Omari Abor (ranked 38th) and Hero Kanu (105th) and are battling home-state Wisconsin for offensive lineman Carson Hinzman. Kanu and Abor are not expected to announce their decision until the All-American Bowl in January. Hinzman's announcement might not come Wednesday, either.
When the class is finalized, Ohio State will have another class loaded with elite prospects, even after all the twists and turns.
"It's another class that meets the standard of what they're trying to do," Wiltfong said. "This is a class that keeps them in the hunt to win a Big Ten title and a national title. It's hard to win all your games, but when you look at the way they continue to recruit —offensive skill, quarterback, some special players on defense like C.J. Hicks and Sonny Styles — it's another great class, absolutely."