Ohio State’s 2023 class is coming together.
With the commitment of Jelani Thurman on Sunday, OSU wrapped up its tight end recruiting and its third position in total for the current cycle. There’s still more work to be done to add to the Buckeyes’ No. 1-ranked recruiting class, but the majority of it could be completed by the end of the summer.
That much is already well-known. But what about the 2024 cycle?
While the Buckeyes have their biggest target already committed in five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola, he is the only Ohio State commit in that class so far. But there are plenty of other recruits on both sides of the ball establishing themselves as priority targets for Ohio State.
The following 10 names, in no particular order, are among those you’re likely to hear a lot about over the next year-and-a-half, as the Buckeyes would love to add all of them to their 2024 class.
At one point during the spring before Raiola pulled the trigger, Smith looked like a candidate to be the first 2024 recruit to commit to Ohio State. Smith is close friends with OSU commits Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss, who plays with Smith on the South Florida Express 7-on-7 team. With how much peer recruiting Inniss has done for OSU’s 2023 class, there’s a great chance he’ll be the top peer recruiter for Smith, though Raiola will probably give him a run for his money.
As otherworldly talented as Tate and Inniss are, there is some belief within recruiting circles that Smith is even better than both. Smith has a strong relationship with Brian Hartline and is arguably the top offensive target after Raiola for the Buckeyes in 2024.
Gage has felt no shortage of love when it comes to Ohio State.
Raiola texts the IMG Academy running back daily. Tony Alford, OSU’s primary recruiter in Florida, has been in communication with Gage since he was in eighth grade.
The Buckeyes have made no reservations about how much they’d like Gage to join their 2024 class and continued to relay that message when he visited Columbus on June 21 for a private workout with Alford at the Buckeyes’ recruiting camp.
“I really do love his coaching style,” Gage said of Alford in June. “It’s not even just me getting his relationship, it’s just the things everybody else says about him,” Gage said. “They say he’s a great guy, great person, great father and everything. Just being coached by him and everybody talking about him, it makes me feel good.”
Ohio’s 2024 group of prospects might be one of the Buckeye State’s strongest classes in years from top to bottom. Of all the talented prospects within the state, West is the most highly touted in the class. He was the first in-state 2024 prospect to receive an Ohio State offer, which instantly made the Buckeyes his No. 1 school.
This one has always felt like a matter of when, not if, West commits to OSU. But the Glenville cornerback is in no rush to make a decision and will play the recruiting process out.
Both Ohio State and Notre Dame are strong contenders to land Woodyard, a five-star safety from California. So it makes all the sense in the world that he will attend OSU’s season opener against Notre Dame on Sept. 3.
“I will definitely be at the game,” Woodyard told Eleven Warriors in May. “That is something coach (Perry) Eliano and I discussed. I’m looking forward to the gameday experience and the preparation prior to the game. I want to see how the coaches interact with the players, specifically coach Knowles and coach Eliano on the defensive side. I’m also looking forward to seeing coach Day coaching in the field.”
Woodyard has made multiple visits to Columbus and has gushed about the relationship he’s built with new safeties coach Perry Eliano. Adding Woodyard, another close friend of Raiola’s, to the 2024 class would give OSU a cornerstone prospect defensively.
Like Smith, Trader is another five-star wide receiver from South Florida Express who the Buckeyes would love to bring to Columbus. Can OSU land two five-star wide receivers from the same 7-on-7 team, let alone the same state, in back-to-back recruiting cycles? If anyone can, it’s Hartline.
The final weekend of June was a big weekend for Ohio State recruiting. The Buckeyes hosted multiple highly coveted 2023 prospects on official visits and have seen some of the fruits of their labor pay off with commitments in the weeks that followed.
One visitor from that weekend who may have been overlooked in all the hoopla was Robinson IV, a five-star cornerback in 2024. Robinson IV picked up an OSU offer in October and has been high on the Buckeyes since. He included OSU on his top 10 list on June 10 and is developing a strong rapport with Tim Walton. After already landing four cornerback commitments in 2023, Robinson IV is Walton’s chance to land a true first cornerback target in 2024.
OSU already has a major leg up here, considering Bolden is the cousin of Eliano. That aside, the five-star safety visited Columbus this spring and was impressed by his experience.
Jim Knowles has built a defensive scheme around utilizing the talents of three athletic safeties. Imagine the havoc he could wreak if Woodyard and Bolden line up side-by-side at Ohio Stadium one day.
With how many trips Knowles made to Louisiana this year, it wasn’t hard to figure out Tackett Curtis was the No. 1 2023 linebacker on his big board. Next year, it very well could be Brown on the other end of Knowles’ frequent flyer miles.
The Georgia product was offered by OSU early after attending the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan State Nov. 20. A top-10 player in the 2024 cycle, Brown fits everything OSU is looking for in a prospective linebacker. The Buckeyes will get another chance at developing a relationship with his family when he returns to campus for the Notre Dame game.
Stewart was one of the most athletic prospects that camped with Ohio State this summer and could be near the top of Larry Johnson’s big board for 2024. The interest is certainly mutual.
After attending OSU’s camp on June 6, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound defensive end said his interest in Ohio State is a “10” and that he hopes to make a gameday visit to Columbus this fall.
Smith is another top defensive line target for Johnson, capable of playing either defensive end or tackle at college, though Johnson believes the Texas prospect will play outside. Even though he already had an Ohio State offer, Smith made his third trip to Columbus to work out with Johnson at OSU’s June 6 camp, and it’s clear OSU is going to be in the running for Smith throughout his recruiting process.
“It was definitely a great, great time to get to be able to actually see his coaching style in action,” Smith said of Johnson in June. “I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t like a camp that took forever, but you got a lot of drills that you can take back. I already got a whole bunch of drills from him, probably over an hour-long video of just straight drills, so I’ve got a lot that I took back and used at home. So it was just great to be able to actually see his coaching style in person and get coached by someone like that.”