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Column: The defensive trenches remain a high priority as Ohio State fills out their 2022 class

With no defensive lineman committed, the Buckeyes need to put an added focus on the position to round out the class.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch via Imagn Content Services, LLC

As the early signing period inches closer, Ohio State currently holds the top spot in the 2022 recruiting rankings with Penn State, Alabama, Notre Dame, and LSU looking up at them. Head Coach Ryan Day and the coaching staff have been able to piece together a recruiting class that, if things conclude the way that they hope, could wind up as the highest graded recruiting class in program history. The list of current verbal pledges is littered with blue-chip players and the expectation should be nothing other than just that.

The class currently features sixteen commitments now with the recent departure of four-star tight end Benji Gosnell of East Surry (NC) earlier this week. The Buckeyes have succeeded at addressing a few position groups in their entirety — see QB, RB, and WR — but they also have a few other spots that may look a little different going forward with some additions and maybe even departures being possible.

One thing that may stand out when skimming the current group of soon-to-be Buckeyes is that their is still plenty of work to be done along the defensive front in the class. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who is fresh off of an historic haul in 2021 led by Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau, has yet to see any additions to his position group in the 2022 cycle.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Some may see four-star linebacker commit Gabe Powers of Marysville (OH) as a player that could wind up with his hand in the dirt when all is said and done but that remains to be seen. Regardless, the Buckeyes will need to finish strongly along the defensive front and with the benefit of having the aforementioned Johnson, there should be few worries that it will end any other way.

Ohio State is still tracking a good deal of prospects throughout the defensive line and inside of the Top 50, you will find some uncommitted talent that the Buckeyes have had some previous traction with. A trio of five-star standouts made their way to Columbus in June to check out the campus in Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy (No. 8 overall) of Lakeland (FL), Shemar Stewart (No. 9) of Monsignor Pace (FL), and Omari Abor (No. 25) of Duncanville (TX). Four-star Enai White (No. 36) of Imhotep Institute (PA) is another player that has previously visited and is now down to Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. Rounding out the DL targets in the Top 50 is four-star Khurtiss Perry (No. 45) of Park Crossing (AL) who is focusing on ten teams as of mid-July and Ohio State is one that received inclusion.

Perhaps most of the traction that the Buckeyes have at the position are with players outside of the Top 50 but inside the Top 100 overall on the 247Sports Composite Scale. A long-time target of Ohio State is four-star Caden Curry (No. 69) of Center Grove (IN) and they will have to outlast the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Indiana, and Oregon for his services. Four-stars Kenyatta Jackson (No. 76) of Chaminade-Madonna Prep (FL) and Hero Kanu (No. 80) of Santa Margarita Catholic (CA) have made multiple stops to the Buckeyes campus in the last two months and both were in Columbus as recent as a few days ago for the BBQ recruiting extravaganza the university held. Finally, four-star Chris McClellan (No. 91) of Owasso (OK) was receiving strong buzz about potentially shutting things down and becoming a Buckeye shortly after his official visit in June but things have since slowed down and the in-state Sooners continue their efforts to keep McClellan home.

The lone other player outside of the Top 100 that should be monitored is four-star Christen Miller (No. 119) of Cedar Grove (GA), who recently revealed a Top 4 list that included the Buckeyes as well as Georgia, Oregon, and USC. However, the Trojans and Bulldogs seem to be in front for Miller as of now.

With ten names very much in-play for Ohio State and the success of Larry Johnson on the recruiting trail and developing the guys brought in, the Buckeyes seem primed for a big finish along the defensive line in 2022. It will be fascinating to see who ultimately winds up wrecking havoc up front for the Scarlet and Gray.