Over the weekend, Ohio State landed their top recruiting target in the 2023 class when Pickerington native Sonny Styles gave the staff the incredible news that he was ready to shut down his recruitment and become a Buckeye. Being the No. 1 player in Ohio in his cycle, as well as the eighth-best player nationally, it’s clear to see why the staff was so set on keeping Styles at home, and keeping other top programs like Notre Dame, Clemson and others away from a player in their own backyard with family ties to the program.
Ohio State is wants these last few weeks in the regular season to pay off big time — both in wins on the field and off the field as well in recruiting. The coaching staff knows championships don’t happen without elite level play in November. Off the field, with the early signing day approaching quickly for 2022, the efforts there have to be elite as well if they want to land the rest of their top targets on the board and keep their class among the best in the country. Simply put, there’s a ton of work to do, but the Buckeyes win more times than not, and that should be expected moving forward.
Now that Styles is in the fold, the coaching staff will be able to breathe a little easier, but the pursuit of other top players certainly won’t be lessened. Looking ahead, there’s several names for the staff that seem to be Ohio State leans or at least specific players that are their top targets they are going after. As 2022 nears the final turn of their class, 2023 will become that much more of the forefront of their priority list, and one name specifically should be the next in line as far as priority targets go.
Luke Montgomery next on the board
In every recruiting cycle, the Buckeyes have a group of players that are their “must-gets” for lack of a better phrase in terms of prospects they want. The coaching staff spends countless hours doing any and everything they can to get these select group of guys in the class. Whether it’s a national target or an in-state player, the coaches have their sights set on a few special players, and most of the time they’re fortunate enough to land those guys, especially from within their own borders.
In-state players are generally the top priority targets, and that becomes even more true when those same players rank near the top of the list on a national scale. It makes sense that you’d want to keep home grown players at home for their college career and away from rival programs. As talented as Ohio is for prep football, each year the Buckeye State produces a “can’t miss” type of player that the Buckeyes focus in on, and they’ve had a fantastic track record at keeping them within the state lines after high school.
The aforementioned Styles is that player in 2023, but the next in line is Findlay, Ohio native Luke Montgomery. At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Montgomery is someone who is asked to do it all on the football field. Suiting up primarily as a defensive lineman in the past, he was asked this season to also play on the offensive line and had a stellar season on both sides of the ball. Playing multiple spots on both sides, Montgomery proves how versatile he is and as the 59th-best player nationally regardless of position per the 247Sports Composite, he should be and is the next in line as the top priority for Ohio State’s 2023 class.
There are three huge reasons why he should be the program’s biggest priority right now:
First and foremost, he’s from Ohio. The Buckeyes have to keep the best at home every year, and with Ohio not being as deep with four and five-star prospects this cycle, keeping the top ones at home becomes that much more important. The Buckeyes already lost out on Mentor native, Brenan Vernon, Ohio’s second-best player who committed to Notre Dame. That’s why keeping Styles at home was magnified even more so. You couldn’t afford to lose not only one, but both of the top two players in the state to the Irish. Crisis averted, thankfully.
Versatility and Size
In addition to being an in-state player, another aspect for having to have Montgomery in this class is because of his versatility. Per his highlight film from his current junior season, Montomgery has lined up as a tackle, guard, and even at center on the offensive line. Not to mention, he’s also played both tackle and end on the defensive line. That’s pretty common for players who play at smaller schools, but Findlay is a solid sized program, which shows Montgomery was invaluable to his team on both fronts. The ability to play on either side of the ball at the next level is an added bonus for the coaching staff, who sees tons of versatility in Montgomery’s game.
In that same light, the size Montgomery already has is so coveted. Montgomery is already 6-foot-5, 260 pounds with still a full year of high school to develop and get stronger. Looking at him, he’s not your typical lineman. On the contrary, Montgomery holds his weight very well, and as a basketball player in addition to football, he moves better than most would at his size. Under a Mickey Marotti strength program, you get the idea of why the coaching staff is working so hard at keeping him at home for his college career.
Besides all else, his brother is becoming a big reason why Luke will be asked to stay home. Younger brother Ryan Montgomery may only be a high school freshman, but is a starter at quarterback on the varsity team with Luke, and received an offer from the Buckeyes on Oct. 30. Ryan is also seeing his Ohio State recruitment start to take off. It’s a long ways off and many things can change that far into the future, but the Buckeyes have a top up and coming quarterback right in their backyard, and surely having big brother on the roster would make it a bit easier to land another Montgomery in Columbus.
All in all, it’s pretty simple. The Buckeyes’ hard work has paid off with Sonny Styles now committed, and if they want to continue bringing in elite players in the 2023 cycle, they can start by doing so at home with Luke Montgomery. Everything he brings to the table is exactly why moving forward he should be the staff’s top target.