We’re less than two weeks away from Ohio State taking the field once again when they face off against Utah in the Rose Bowl. Looking to avenge the regular season finale and get back on track, the Buckeye players have heard the negative clamoring for weeks now, and rightfully so want to quiet the naysayers. Whether it’s been shots at their overall toughness or the like, odds are the coaching staff and inner motivation itself is going to have Ohio State ready to play. Though it’s not where they want to be, it’s still a chance to end the season on a high note and get back to what Buckeye football is all about as they prepare to right the ship in 2022.
On the recruiting side of things, the coaching staff is still at it, but the first priority of course is the next game. Still, pursuit of a couple more top players to add to their 2022 roster is in full swing, and the 2023 class is seeing a ton of time devoted to it as it becomes the next cycle on the block. February is coming, and Ohio State is hoping to see a few more major additions to their 2022 class, and possibly to the current roster thanks to the transfer portal.
Pair of defensive prospects to watch in the portal
Every time you blink there is something going on with the transfer portal. In today’s college football landscape, it’s just plain hard to keep up with. In Ohio State’s case, adding through the transfer portal has worked out quite well. In fact, it doesn’t take much effort to remember the key additions of Justin Fields, Trey Sermon, and even Jonah Jackson. All were major helps to the Buckeyes, and part of the reason they were so successful, especially when you consider how vital Fields was to Ohio State in his two seasons under center.
On the flip side, the Buckeyes have had their share of guys leave the program too, but most of the time it’s due to the players not being able to crack the starting line up. Many times that shows the strength of the program overall when talented guys opt to leave because there’s a tough road in front of them. Sure, success stories like Jameson Williams at Alabama this year probably give off some bittersweet feelings, but with the portal situation as fluid as it gets right now and current players leaving, it’s just a different day and age.
With the Buckeyes seeing these departures (mainly younger players), there are needs to fill on the current roster, and the portal is the way to do so. Ryan Day has made it clear numerous times that using the portal is not something they want to do in bulk, but in cases if it’s the right fit and makes sense from a culture standpoint, then obviously the staff will take a look at the specific players of interest at positions of need. For 2022, tight end is one key area worth paying attention to, but most of the focus of course will be on the defensive side of the ball.
This week there have been some rumblings that include and interest Ohio State. First, DeaMonte Trayanum, an Akron, Ohio native, entered the transfer portal back in late November. A former Arizona State player, at one time the Buckeyes recruited Trayanum, but not feeling like a total priority at the running back position, the class of 2020 product chose to leave home and head for the desert. Fast forward and the one time four-star and top 300 player nationally is back on the market looking for a new place to call home.
In Ohio State’s regard, the Buckeyes certainly don’t need another running back in the fold. Freshman phenom TreVeyon Henderson is poised for another great season in 2022, and that doesn’t even include the other talented guys in the stable such as Miyan Williams, Evan Pryor, Marcus Crowley, and even Master Teague if he chooses to come back for another year. In other words, no — the Buckeyes aren’t looking at Trayanum to come fill a spot in the running back room, but they could be looking at him on the other side of the ball.
Much like Steele Chambers, Trayanum is also a player with linebacker experience, and with how well Chambers came on during this season after switching from running back to linebacker, the Buckeyes may look to add another guy in the fold to replicate the same move. Being from Ohio and having a blueprint in front of him of another guy on the roster who has made the same changes in his career certainly shows it’s more than possible. It’s not a done deal yet of course because other programs are in the mix, but if Trayanum wants to come home and play for Ohio State, it’s going to be on defense.
A second name that has surfaced via the portal and instantly links itself to Ohio State is Tanner McCalister. A safety, McCalister already plays a position the Buckeyes would have liked to see more success from this season regardless of key injuries. But more specifically, McCalister has played up to this point for Oklahoma State, and with the Buckeyes poaching Jim Knowles from the Cowboys to fill the defensive coordinator role, seeing a familiar face that already understands his system is an aspect that brings some interest with it.
A one time three-star prospect in the 2018 class, McCalister would bring experience to the secondary if that was his ultimate decision. Experience aside, the familiarity with Knowles as a coach and especially his scheme counts for something. Ohio State will return a healthy Josh Proctor next season in addition to some younger key players, but this is one portal candidate really worth watching over the next couple of weeks. The confirmation of that is his mutual interest in Ohio State, as he’s made it clear the Buckeyes are on his mind to multiple outlets.
- The portal gives and takes away, and while this loss to the portal was not one the staff wanted to see because of his class status and tons of time still to develop, that’s just the way the world goes right now in college football. In this case, Ryan Watts, who is a recent name the Buckeyes saw enter the portal, has made up his mind and is heading home to Texas to play for the Longhorns.
Linking up with Quinn Ewers and now Terrance Brooks too, that is three players the Buckeyes have lost to Texas in a short time thanks to the portal and a de-commitment in the 2022 class. Not the end of the world, as Ohio State has other young dudes ready to step up, but you never want to see potentially talented players like Watts take their skills elsewhere.
New Opportunity, New Beginning’s. pic.twitter.com/9JVPVDbAg1— Ryan Watts (@TheRyanWatts) December 23, 2021
- Ohio State has made the cut for four-star 2023 defensive lineman Derrick LeBlanc. The Florida native dropped a top seven schools list on Wednesday that included the likes of Clemson, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma Penn State, and UCF in addition to the Buckeyes. LeBlanc is listed as the No. 13 DL in the cycle and the No. 84 player in the country overall, and it is worth noting that the only Crystal Ball prediction for him currently is in Ohio State’s favor — courtesy of Steve Wiltfong back in July.