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Four-star RB from Florida includes Ohio State in his top group

Despite an upsetting weekend for the Buckeyes, they were able to get some positive news on the recruiting trail.

Cedric Baxter Jr.
Andrew Ivins, 247Sports

While Ohio State was in the middle of their contest against Michigan, the Buckeyes picked up some good news in regards to a highly-touted offensive prospect in next year’s class. Plus, we take a look at the impact of Lincoln Riley departing Oklahoma and setting up shop at USC.

Baxter down to 12

It was a forgetful weekend for the Buckeyes on the gridiron after they fell to the hands of the Wolverines on Saturday by a final count of 42-27. Nonetheless, during the contest Ohio State was on the receiving end of some good news in regards to their pursuit of 2023 four-star running back Cedric Baxter Jr. of Edgewood (FL).

The fourth-highest graded running back in the class, whom the Buckeyes offered back in September, decided that Saturday was the right time for him to narrow things down after receiving 35 offers from programs across the country.

As seen above, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder did in fact include Ohio State in his list of top schools. If the Buckeyes hope to win this battle for the Top 100 prospect, they will have to outlast the likes of Alabama, Arkansas, Central Florida, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL), Ole Miss, and Texas A&M.

Impact of Riley to USC

The big bombshell on the weekend came on Sunday, when it was reported that USC was zeroing in on Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley as a top target to fill the Trojans’ vacancy at the same position. Of course, it was just a few hours after the initial report that the program would go on to make the hiring of Riley official. The news will undoubtedly be something that the Buckeyes have the monitor going forward, especially in regards to a handful of targets in this year’s class as signing day inches closer.

The two names that initially popped up following the news was a pair of 2022 west coast targets for the Buckeyes in four-star quarterback Devin Brown of Corner Canyon (UT) and four-star safety Zion Branch of Bishop Gorman (NV). Brown, the No. 5 QB in the class, was of course committed to the Trojans as he made an official visit to Columbus to check out what Ohio State had to offer. Just a couple of days following that visit to the Buckeyes’ campus, Brown would go on to decommit from USC. Now, does Riley get in touch with Brown and try to bring him back to the Trojans? Does the big-time hire for the Trojans change anything for the aforementioned Branch (and his younger brother Zachariah)? It remains to be seen for now, but I wouldn’t personally be surprised either way.

On the other hand, could the Trojans hiring Riley help the Buckeyes? It seems like wishful thinking, but for the time being the Sooners did see a pair of prospects open up their recruitment following Riley’s departure in 2023 five-star wide receiver Brandon Inniss of American Heritage (FL) and 2023 four-star running back Treyaun Webb of Trinity Christian Academy (FL).

While both are certainly back on the market, it is far too early to know if the Buckeyes have a chance for either of the two blue-chip prospects. However, it is worth mentioning that both of the Sunshine State standouts included the Buckeyes in their respective top groups prior to making their commitments to Oklahoma.

Innis, the No. 1 pass catcher in the class, chose the Sooners over Alabama, Florida, Miami (FL), and Ohio State. While Webb, the fifth-highest graded running back in the class, picked Oklahoma over the likes of Georgia and Ohio State.

It will be interesting to see if the Buckeyes can capitalize on the pair of players being back on the open market. Quite frankly, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if so. But before that becomes a reality, they have to withstand any possibility of the two following Riley to USC, which is a story in it’s own.