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Five questions to be answered as Ohio State looks to finish off the 2022 recruiting class

As the stretch run approaches, we take a look at a handful of questions that remain unanswered for the Buckeyes 2022 recruiting class.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the Ohio State coaching staff has put together a current 2022 class that features just under 20 pledges overall and currently stands as the fourth best class in the country, there are still many questions that need to be answered as the finish line is quickly approaching.

1. Of the current Buckeye commits, who will be early enrollees?

Ohio State's current 2022 recruiting class features 18 prospects for the time being. But which of those 18 are planning to make their way up to Columbus to kick start their career as a Buckeye thanks to early graduation?

Right now, the plan is for 11 of the current verbal pledges to enroll early, according to 247Sports' Bill Kurelic; four-star cornerback Terrance Brooks, four-star quarterback Devin Brown, four-star cornerback Jyaire Brown, four-star wide receiver Caleb Burton, three-star tight end Bennett Christian, four-star offensive tackle George Fitzpatrick, four-star wide receiver Kyion Grayes, five-star linebacker C.J. Hicks, four-star linebacker Gabe Powers, and four-star defensive back Kye Stokes.

While the verdict is still out on a handful of other current Ohio State commits, we did learn yesterday that four-star offensive tackle Tegra Tshabola of Lakota West (OH) will definitely not being heading to Columbus early as the No. 10 OT in the country will finish his final semester as a Firebird.

2. Is Ohio State done on the offensive line or is another addition likely?

While three pledges are already in the fold for offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and the Buckeyes with the aforementioned Fitzpatrick, Tshabola, and three-star offensive tackle Avery Henry, don't be surprised if another joins the trio in the class.

The two names that Ohio State seems to have any chance with going forward is a pair of interior lineman in Earnest Greene of St. John Bosco (CA) and Carson Hinzman of Saint Croix Central (WI) — two blue-chip prospects.

For Greene, a Top 50 prospect in the class, he has narrowed his options down to Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, and Texas. While the Buckeyes were included and made an in-home visit to check on Greene last week, this has the looks of a recruitment that is leaning towards the Crimson Tide and the Bulldogs.

On the other hand, the Scarlet and Gray could be on the verge of plucking away one of Wisconsin's top prospects right out of the grasp of the Badgers. The two programs have been in pursuit of Hinzman, the No. 6 iOL in the class, for quite some time. However, recent buzz has been focused on the Buckeyes pulling off a big recruiting win at a position that quite frankly has been underwhelming throughout this cycle for the good guys.

3. Will the hopeful defensive line haul that the Buckeyes aimed for all cycle ultimately come to fruition?

Make no mistake about it, Ohio State had a major victory on the recruiting trail back in October when they outlasted the likes of Alabama and Oklahoma to land four-star defensive end Kenyatta Jackson of Chaminade-Madonna Prep (FL). However, aside from Jackson the Buckeyes enter Sunday with no other defensive line prospects in the fold barring an eventual move down from four-star linebacker Gabe Powers of Marysville (OH) like some in the industry feel may be an option.

But there does happen to be a few big fish still available that defensive line coach Larry Johnson has his sights set on.

One being four-star defensive lineman Caden Curry of Center Grove (IN) and Ohio State won't have to wait much longer to learn his intentions. Curry, the No. 14 overall player at his position and one of the very best in Indiana, will be making his announcement on Tuesday and all signs point to the Buckeyes being the beneficiary of the decision.

As for three others still very much in-play for Ohio State, you might have to remain patient.

We know for certain that four-star defensive tackle Hero Kanu of Santa Margarita Catholic (CA) will be making his decision at the All-American Bowl on January 8th with the Buckeyes a sure-fire finalist and the current 247Sports Crystal Ball favorite.

That leaves four-star defensive end Omari Abor of Duncanville (TX) and four-star defensive lineman Christen Miller of Cedar Grove (GA) and quite frankly, we aren't sure when those eventual commitments could come down the pipeline.

Abor, also a favorite to land in Columbus, could push his pledge past the early signing period. While Miller, who is forecasted to land with Georgia but the Buckeyes aren't conceding, could pop at any moment

4. Can the Buckeyes hold off Texas for Terrance Brooks?

In what looked to be a drama-free recruitment ever since committing to Ohio State over Alabama, Florida, Oregon, Texas, and Texas A&M in late June, it seems that the Buckeyes may now have cause for concern with four-star cornerback Terrance Brooks of Little Elm (TX).

Brooks, the No. 8 cornerback overall, reportedly received an in-home visit from Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian on Thursday. The Longhorns leader certainly seems to be in the ear of the third highest graded Ohio State commit on the defensive side of the ball with hopes of keeping the in-state prospect home.

While there has been no movement on the 247Sports Crystal Ball at this point, the Buckeyes defensive coaching staff and Ryan Day certainly have some work to do here if they want to leave no doubt for the 5-foot-11, 190-pounder.

Another important piece to take note of as Ohio State hopes to weather the storm for Brooks is that Jim Knowles, the newly hired defensive coordinator, will not be able to recruit for the Buckeyes until January 2nd. That means it will likely be Day, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, and secondary coach Matt Barnes that will have to right the ship.

It is worth mentioning that now former Ohio State cornerback Ryan Watts was Brooks' host on his official visit to Columbus just a week before he made his commitment and there is smoke out there in regards to Watts potentially heading to Texas after entering the transfer portal on Friday.

5. After seemingly being in good position weeks ago, is all hope lost for Zion Branch?

Not even one month ago, it looked as if the Buckeyes were well-positioned to land one of their top defensive back targets in the class in four-star safety Zion Branch of Bishop Gorman (NV).

However that seemed to immediately change on Nov. 28th when USC announced the hiring of Lincoln Riley, formerly of Oklahoma, as their new head coach. Just two days after inking their new head football coach, Branch scheduled another official visit to the university -- his second -- and it felt as if the Buckeyes had an immediate problem on their hands and sure enough, they did.

Fast forward to today and we can safely call it a long-shot at best for Ohio State to secure the services of Branch, the No. 6 safety in the class. The Buckeyes did make a last ditch effort by sending Barnes and wide receiver coach Brian Hartline out for an in-home visit with the family but ultimately this one looks to be all but over.

With four-star safety Xavier Nwankpa of Southeast Polk (IA) now headed to Iowa and Branch likely USC bound, Ohio State was headed towards a safety-less recruiting class in 2022 until the fortunate reclassification of Sonny Styles.