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Buckeyes stay busy on the trail offering a handful of top prospects in the 2023 class

Ohio State football and basketball are after a 2023 Georgia native two-sport star.

2023 SDE Lebbeus Overton

Though Wednesday’s news of the recruiting dead period being extended is limiting every team’s ability to evaluate players the way they would like, there’s been a common theme of success for Ohio State during this unfortunate situation. The Buckeyes since the beginning of this dead period have navigated their way through the tough waters about as smoothly as one could. Whether it be in the form of landing commitments or at the very least laying the ground work for great communication with their top targets, Ohio State’s staff is crushing it on the trail even in the midst of zero face-to-face recruiting taking place.

Now that Ohio State knows they’ll have to continue this mainly virtual recruiting approach, you have to lean towards the notion that the momentum and success they have found will continue. On Zoom calls or in other areas, the Buckeyes have set the bar as high as you could want and this past week has seen no decrease in efforts along the trails as the 2023 class looks to be in full effect when it comes to offer season. Whatever the circumstance may be, it’s clear the Buckeyes will still recruit right at the top of college football.

Buckeye football and basketball after Georgia star

It’s not everyday that the both the Buckeye football and basketball programs are after the same prospect. Yesterday, the rare dual-sport offer was sent out to 2023 prospect Lebbeus Overton after he announced via his Twitter that both Ohio State football and basketball had offered. On the football side of things, the Alpharetta, Georgia native is currently ranked as the top player in the country regardless of position. At 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Overton is 247Sports’ No. 1 defensive end, and with double digit offers from many of the nation’s top programs, it’s easy to see why the Buckeyes have entered the race.

Coming from a family of elite athletes, Overton’s father played football in his college days for Oklahoma, which explains why there’s an early prediction in favor of the Sooners on the 247Sports Crystal Ball. In addition, his father is currently the athletic director at Kennesaw State, which proves his family knows what it takes to make it in college sports. Overton being a current high school sophomore has more than enough time to really start hashing out his top schools and then narrowing it down to the final program that will be his choice, but having a family with expertise in this area will surely help him.

On the basketball side of things, Overton also competes on the hardwood at an elite level. He projects to be more of a football player at the next level, but if anyone could make it work playing both, it would be this guy. With Ohio State’s dominant track record of landing and developing elite defensive end prospects, it’s pretty safe to assume the Buckeyes will be a strong player in his recruitment moving forward, but having both programs offer him certainly proves how strongly Ohio State as a whole feels about this 2023 star.

Staying hot on the trail in the 2023 class

In addition to Overton, the Buckeyes continued their strong efforts by offering three more 2023 targets yesterday. Not slowing down at all, the sophomore cycle seems to be fully underway since the 2022 class is already at 10 members and growing. Of course that class is far from complete, but this early on it’s impressive to see both the quality and quantity. When the staff has the ability to have that many players in the fold for the next cycle, it gives them ample opportunity to give more focus to the future classes and in return the advantage of longer lasting relationships gives them great position to continue landing elite players.

Staying right at home, Findlay, Ohio native Luke Montgomery was one of the targets on the receiving end of an Ohio State offer yesterday. A 2023 defensive end prospect, Montgomery as a current high school sophomore already has incredible size standing at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds. One of the faster rising prospects in Ohio for his class, Montgomery does not yet hold a 247Sports ranking, but with over double digit offers from the likes of Florida State, Michigan, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Penn State, and now Ohio State among others, it’s safe to assume he will be one of the top players in the state and nationally as this offer list continues to grow.

Like the aforementioned Overton, Montgomery is also quite the basketball player. With his athleticism on the basketball court translating to his game on the defensive line, his footwork and speed clearly separate him from the pack. Playing on both sides of the ball for his high school team, it’s not out of the question to think Montgomery could play one or the other at the next level, but right now he projects mainly as a defensive player. Any time the Buckeyes offer an in-state kid they have to be the clear frontrunner and this recruitment seems to be no different. There’s more than enough time to go, but watch out for Ohio State moving forward.

Staying on the defensive side of the ball, but heading back to Georgia, Ohio State sent out another offer to a 2023 defensive-end prospect. Stantavious Smith out of Albany, Georgia was the third defensive end to see the Buckeyes come calling yesterday — and it’s for good reason. The 6-foot-1, 250 pound prospect may be a bit shorter than some of his competitors, but once again the 2023 class status shows he has two more prep seasons to grow before he heads off to the college of his choice. Not letting that impact his recruitment clearly, Smith has 15 offers from some of the top SEC schools and other top caliber programs from around the country already to his name.

Schools such as Florida, LSU, Georgia, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and others have seen what they’ve wanted already and with Ohio State now in the fold too, Smith is really becoming a household name. There’s no recruiting ranking for him currently, but that offer list bodes well for him that he’ll be among the nation’s best when evaluated more in depth by the rest of the recruiting services. The Buckeyes continue to recruit Georgia as hard as any other state in the country, and when they’re constantly churning out elite talents like this, it’s easy to see why their presence in the Peach State continues every year.

Switching gears a bit, the final offer the Buckeyes sent out on Thursday was to 2023 running back target Justice Haynes. Another Georgia native, Haynes currently checks in as the 45th-ranked prospect nationally. In addition, the 5-foot-10, 185 pound four-star is considered to be the fourth-best running back in the class and the fifth-best player in his home state. Already one of the higher touted players in the country for his class, Ohio State may be a little late to the party, which is crazy to think about given he still has two full years left of high school to go.

Having offers from Georgia, Penn State, Miami, Oregon, Florida, and a handful of others to his name, Haynes is definitely a player that will continue to see his stock rise and the offer sheet increase in the near future. In 2023, Ohio State will want to make another splash at the position with maybe even two running backs, but getting Haynes into the fold would give them and any other program an elite option in the backfield. Surely offers to other running backs in this cycle will come, but this early on could mean Haynes is at the top of the board for Ohio State moving forward.

Quick Hits

  • A big time development potentially for Ohio State and their 2022 class, the fourth-best cornerback in the class and the eighth-best player nationally, Will Johnson, looks to finally be ready to name the school of his choice after several weeks of being close to committing. On Thursday it was noted that he will be deciding between Ohio State, Michigan, and USC on Sunday, Feb. 28. The Buckeyes have really put themselves in good position thanks to the many changes at their rival Michigan, but knowing Johnson’s dad was a former Wolverine and also the USC draw, this one could really go any of the three ways and it’s too close to call — at least right now.