Ryan Day and his staff have no doubt exceeded most, if not all, Buckeye fans expectations in recruiting for the class of 2020. With a full year of recruiting and building relationships under their belt, look for the Ohio State staff to take the class of 2021 to another level. They are already off to a great start with four commitments—all of who are nationally ranked in the top-100. On top of the having great and early commits, the state of Ohio is loaded with talent in the class of 2021, which is evident with three of Ohio State’s four current commitments hailing from the Buckeye State.
For the class of 2020, it looks as though Ohio State will sign 25 guys. And even though it is early, I would look for Ohio State to sign 25 guys again in the class of 2021. Before I get started with my first 2021 class prediction, I’ll preface it by saying that there is a long way to go in this cycle so give it time. With the pleasantries out of the way, let’s get underway with who I see the Buckeyes signing in the class of 2021.
Kyle McCord (committed) - Ohio State has their man in the class of 2021 and he is a great one. McCord has a very strong arm that allows him to make all the throws from both in and outside the pocket. On top of that he is a very accurate passer of the football; he can fit the ball into very tight windows. Beyond just his physical abilities, he is a natural leader at the quarterback position who has been successful at all levels. As a recruiter, he is actively trying to bring in top players to join him and he especially focuses on his high school teammate Marvin Harrison Jr. While I know many Buckeye fans are curious as to why Ohio State took McCord over current Michigan commitment J.J. McCarthy, I have to urge all Buckeye fans to trust Ryan Day and Mike Yurcich. I see McCord as a similar player to former Buckeye Dwayne Haskins. He came out of high school as a big strong quarterback who has an elite arm. Nonetheless, Ohio State has a great quarterback with a high level arm to lead their offensive charge in the class of 2021.
Donovan Edwards - Edwards is their No. 1 guy at the position in the class of 2021. He can do everything at the running back position just put the ball in his hands and he will take it to the house. Edwards has top end speed out of the backfield but also possesses the power to put a defender into the ground. Since Edwards is one of the top prospects in the state of Michigan, look for the Wolverines to challenge Ohio State along with some SEC schools. However, when Donovan goes to sign his Letter of Intent, I see him doing it while wearing an Ohio State hat. If something does go south with Edwards, we should expect the Buckeyes to turn their attention to Evan Pryor. Pryor is a guy that Ohio State could try to pair with Edwards but I tend to think Pryor could be a featured back elsewhere and this would be more appealing than being a No. 2 for him. Nonetheless, Edwards is there No. 1 guy, and in the end, he will be a Buckeye.
An Ohio RB - As for the second back they will take in the 2021 class, if Pryor does indeed take a featured role elsewhere, they will more than likely hail from the Buckeye state. There are two in-state for 2021 names that Buckeye fans probably know by now and those are Corey Kiner and Jaylen Anderson. Kiner is a short, stout running back that runs north and south. Although he is not as quick on his feet as others, he does have good speed. His recruitment looks to be a good ole Michigan versus Ohio State battle. Right now, Ohio State should be questioning whether they would take his commitment while it feels like Michigan would. Jaylen Anderson is a kid that burst onto the scene as a freshman then got injured. He still has some work to do to get an Ohio State offer. One thing Anderson has going for him is that he is a bigger guy with some good speed and catches the ball really well. Anderson does have some quality offers because he has high level talent when he is at his 100 percent and is looking for big time offers. One name that has popped up recently is Kyree Young who recently transferred to Buchtel high school in Akron, Ohio from Barberton high school. He holds some Power 5 offers and has the ability to get high profile offers seeing as his recruitment has yet to take off. With the way I see everything falling into place, I think Edwards will be a Buckeye. Kiner will be Wolverine. Either one of Young or Anderson will be the other Buckeye with Young being the more talented guy.
Jayden Ballard (committed) - Brian Hartline is already off to a great start again the class of 2021 with a commitment from Jayden Ballard. In Ballard, the Buckeyes got a precise route runner with great, deep speed but where he excels most is in the red zone. He can go up and pluck the ball right out of the air.
Lorenzo Styles Jr. - After Ballard, the next most likely guy to be a Buckeye is also an Ohio kid. Lorenzo Styles Jr. has speed for days from both the slot position or split out wide. On top of the exceptional speed, he has very good hands and runs crisp routes. His recruitment seems to be down to two schools: Ohio State and Notre Dame. While Styles Jr. is a Buckeye legacy, the Irish have not conceded in his recruitment but I do expect Styles Jr. to be a Buckeye when he shuts down his recruitment.
Emeka Egbuka - A questionable target since he is fresh off a visit to Clemson that he described as “great.” Not to mention, he is very interested in a few SEC schools like Alabama and LSU along with the in-state Washington Huskies. In the end, though, I expect Ohio State and Brian Hartline to beat out the competition for another five-star at the wide receiver position.
**Edit: I do expect Marvin Harrison Jr. to be in this class over Blackwell, his name simply slipped my mind. For more on Harrison refer to my prior article about wide receiver targets in the class of 2021 -
As for Blackwell I see him as the fifth man on Ohio State’s wide receiver board. If things to go south with Egbuka, look for Ohio State to get Blackwell.
Gavin Blackwell - If Ohio State does take four guys, as I expect them to do, I would pencil Gavin Blackwell as the fourth man. Blackwell may be a bit of an unknown for Buckeye fans but the four-star wide receiver out Sun Valley (N.C.) is an exceptional player. Blackwell made the trip up to Ohio State for their June 6 one-day camp. He has been on a few visits recently to Florida State and LSU, both of which were impressive. I look for both of those schools, along with North Carolina, to challenge Ohio State. But I believe if Ohio State does push for him, they will land him. Hartline has a great collection of wide receivers in the class of 2020 and if they land these four guys 2021 will also be great.
Moliki Matavao - Without a doubt my biggest shot in the dark on this list is Matavao, who has not even visited Columbus yet. Matavao is a West Coast guy who hails from Nevada but has a large amount of national offers and interests. Matavao is exactly what Ryan Day is looking for at the tight end position. He is a big pass catcher whether it be split out or on the end of the line. While he has some refinement to do as a blocker and some weight to gain, Matavao is a top level talent at tight end. The biggest thing for me in this recruitment is how good Matavao’s relationship is with Ohio State’s tight end coach, Kevin Wilson. While I expect some SEC schools and Washington to challenge the Buckeyes for Matavao, Ohio State and Wilson are making him a priority in 2021 and I see the Buckeyes landing their No. 1 guy.
Jordan Dingle - In 2021, Ohio State will graduate both Jake Hausman and Luke Farrell, so fans should look for them to take two tight ends in the class of 2021. The second guy behind Matavao will be Dingle out of Bowling Green high school. Dingle is more of an old school player who is equally good at blocking and receiving the ball but still has a great deal of upset at the tight end position. Ohio State is Dingle’s best offer and I believe he could be a guy that commits soon, it is just a matter of how much Ohio State likes his junior film and what other schools offer Dingle. When all is said and done for this class, look for Ohio State to land Jordan Dingle easily and to win a knock down, drag out fight for Moliki Matavao. These players could give Ohio State two high quality tight ends for the class of 2021.
Ben Christman (committed) - Ben Christman is an already committed future left tackle for Ohio State along the offensive line.
Donovan Jackson - After Christman, the clear cut top target is Jackson, who is a potential high level player at guard or tackle. While his recruitment is pretty open at this point, we should expect the combination of family ties in Ohio and high level academics at Ohio State to help the Buckeyes land his commitment.
Ryan Lithicum - An interesting prospect seeing as he is ranked as the top center in the country. Furthermore, Ohio State has landed the top ranked center in both the last two classes with Harry Miller and Luke Wypler. That being said, I still like the Buckeyes to land Lithicum then sort out his position once on campus—because he is a versatile athlete. Ohio State’s main competition for Lithicum is the University of Michigan and the Clemson Tigers.
Michael Gonzalez - The fourth offensive lineman I like Ohio State to land is Gonzalez. He is a bit of an unknown project at the guard position and comes from the same high school as Gavin Blackwell. Gonzalez is on the lighter side when it comes to weight at 290 pounds. However, he still has two years of high school left and I see no reason why he won’t be over 300 pounds come college. Gonzalez attended Ohio State’s June 6 camp along with Blackwell where he impressed the Ohio State coaching staff, which led to his Ohio State offer about a week after. Ohio State’s biggest competitor for Gonzalez is the in-state North Carolina Tar Heels, but if the Buckeyes really want him, I see them securing his commitment. A potential offensive line with Christman at left tackle, Jackson at left guard, and Lithicum at center is absolutely amazing. If Ohio State then throws in Gonzalez as a future starter, the offensive line class in 2021 will be great for the Buckeyes.
Like I did say earlier in this article, this is a very early prediction. Nonetheless, of the 10 guys I predicted, I feel good about Ohio State landing half if not all of them. Especially after talking to a few Ohio State commits and targets, I like Ohio State’s chances with all of these players recruitments. This 2021 class has the potential to be very special with McCord, Christman and Ballard leading the way on offense. Ohio State and Ryan Day have set the bar high with the 2020 class but I fully believe this 2021 class will surpass the bar set by their predecessors.