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On the road: recapping a visit to Southwest Ohio

Here is everything I saw and heard while visiting Ohio State targets and commits in the Cincinnati and Dayton area.

Mick Walker

On Aug. 12, I went down to Cincinnati for Princeton High School’s media day event and made stops at multiple other high schools in the area. Here is my recap of everything I saw and heard from the guys I talked to during my trip.

Jakob James (Committed), Elder High School, Offensive Guard, 2020 - James was the first player I got to talk to when I made it down to Cincinnati, and I came away very impressed with him. I expect him to get a nice bump in the rankings after this season and be in contention for four-star status. Since his sophomore year, James has gained 40 pounds and played last season with an injured labrum in his left shoulder. Simply put: Jakob James has not played a a full season at his best since he has been ranked. Look for the Buckeye commit to have a breakout season in the trenches for Elder High School.

CJ Hicks, Alter High School, Athlete, 2022 - Last month, 247Sports released their initial rankings for the 2022 class and it featured one Ohioan, CJ Hicks. Hicks was ranked 24th overall and the No. 3 athlete in the country. At 6-foot-4, Hicks is a ginormous athlete for only being a high school sophomore. He currently plays strong safety and running back for his high school team but likely projects as an outside linebacker at the college level. As for his college recruitment, he currently has 15 offers but he is still waiting on the big schools, like Ohio State, to offer. Hicks did attend camp at Ohio State this summer but came away without an offer even though he impressed Ohio State’s defensive backs coach, Jeff Hafley. I, for one, am very excited to see Hicks sophomore film and follow his recruitment. Look for Hicks to be the next big thing in the Buckeye State and eventually in The Horseshoe dawning the Scarlet and Gray.

Chase Harrison, Centerville High School, Quarterback, 2022 - Harrison is one name that Buckeye fans should keep an eye on when it comes to Ohio State’s quarterback in the class of 2022. Harrison is still very young and inexperienced as a high school quarterback but he has all the traits to be a very good quarterback. He stands at about 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds with above average arm strength and is very accurate with his throws. While he has all the traits to be a very good college QB, his recruitment has not taken off just yet. Harrison currently holds three offers but I would expect them to start rolling in after his sophomore season. If Ohio State does indeed get involved in Harrison’s recruitment, I like their chances very much.

Andrew ‘Bam’ Booker, Winton Woods High School, Defensive end, 2021 - Besides Hicks, Booker may be the most intriguing player that I saw on Monday. Booker is a 6-foot-3 junior that currently plays outside linebacker in high school but is still growing and may just grow into a defensive end at the college level. Booker had an interesting summer; he went to Haiti on a mission trip with his church and he stated numerous times it was a great personal experience for him. However, because of the mission trip, he did not get to go to many college camps over the summer. He did, nonetheless, go to Ohio State to work out privately with defensive line coach Larry Johnson. I would expect Ohio State to ask Booker to come to a camp next summer and compete for an offer as a defensive end.

Paris Johnson Jr. (Committed), Princeton High School, Offensive Tackle, 2020 - This is the crown jewel of Ohio State’s 2020 class in my opinion. Mike Daniels, his head coach, told me he is a future NFL left tackle and his value is priceless. While there was some uncertainty surrounding his commitment to Ohio State at times, that has been put to rest recently. Matter of fact, he told me specifically that his recruitment is over and that he is all Buckeye. One of the biggest things that stood out to me about Paris was how polished he is off the field. He is a 4.0 student and can fluently speak Mandarin. While I know he had many Buckeyes fans uneasy when he was visiting other schools, fans should now rejoice at the fact that this future left tackle is solidly a Buckeye.

Darrion Henry (Committed), Princeton High School, Defensive Lineman, 2020 - Behind Paris Johnson Jr., Darrion Henry was Ohio State’s top in-state target for the class of 2020. Furthermore, after almost two years of recruiting Henry, Ohio State and Larry Johnson landed their man on June 29. Henry is an interesting player because of his size at 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds. His height suggests he could play defensive end but his weight may make him a defensive tackle. He is coming off an injury but did tell me that he plans to cut down to 260 pounds by the time he gets on campus. When fully healthy and playing at his true potential, Henry is one of the best defensive linemen in the country. Buckeye fans should expect Henry to come into Ohio State fully healthy and ready when he gets to campus in January.

Corey Kiner, Roger Bacon High School, Running back, 2021 - When you watch Kiner’s sophomore tape, his speed and playmaking ability immediately jumps out. After seeing him in person, I came away very impressed with how much strength he has with two more years of high school left. From talking to him, I feel as though this recruitment will come down to Ohio State and Michigan. As of right now I do not think either side is leading in his recruitment but one positive for Ohio State is Kiner’s respect for OSU’s running backs coach, Tony Alford. Kiner is one of the best running backs in the state of Ohio and I expect him to have a very good year for Roger Bacon.

Joe Royer (Committed), Elder High School, Tight end, 2020 - As many Buckeye fans know by now, Joe Royer beat out Luke Lachey for an offer at Ohio State’s June 6 one-day camp—and it was well deserved. Royer is physically impressive at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. He is an elite pass catcher but still has some work to do as a blocker. If Royer continues to improve his blocking ability, I would expect him to receive a bump in his ranking after his senior season.

This was just a quick recap of all the guys I saw while in Cincinnati and Dayton. I will have more detailed pieces on each of these guys in the weeks to come. One thing is for sure: Ohio is stacked with talent for years to come and I expect Ohio State to reap the benefits of that.

Stay locked into LGHL as I will continue to visit Ohio State’s top in-state targets and commits this fall.