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Column: Ohio State hoping for big in-state victories in the 2023 recruiting class

The Buckeyes always aim to get the best of the best from their own backyard and 2023 will be no different.

Sonny Styles
Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports

Ohio State has already been active in their own backyard for the 2023 recruiting class as they’ve sent out offers to a quartet of in-state prospects in hopes of keeping them home. Unfortunately for the Scarlet and Gray, one of those four blue-chip players are no longer on the active market. But the Buckeyes can still walk away being pleased with their in-state efforts with the talent their are targeting.

The name that the Buckeyes were in on previously was five-star defensive lineman Brenan Vernon of Mentor (OH). The No. 2 overall player in Ohio for next year’s class was someone that Ohio State definitely was hoping to add to the fold and despite the battle on the trail, Vernon announced his commitment to Notre Dame in late June. Will the Buckeyes still attempt to track Vernon after seemingly coming in second in his recruitment? Probably. But I wouldn’t expect a change of heart of for the No. 27 overall player in the class.

Regardless, the primary in-state focus going forward is now questionably five-star safety Sonny Styles of Pickerington Central (OH). This recruitment, much like the aforementioned Vernon, seems to be trending towards another Ohio State-Notre Dame duel for the No. 8 overall player in the class and the very best that the state of Ohio has to offer. His father, Lorenzo Styles Sr., was a former Ohio State linebacker for three seasons and would go on to play a handful of years in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and the then St. Louis Rams. His brother, Lorenzo Styles Jr., is currently at Notre Dame where he is preparing for his freshman season with the Fighting Irish.

It is perhaps one of the more polarizing recruitments to follow with the potential of playing with his brother in college or following in his dad’s footsteps in Columbus being in-play. Needless to say, whichever team is able to add Styles to their program will come away ecstatic with the player they will be getting. 247Sports’ Allen Trieu projects the Tigers standout as a first round pick and compares him to former Clemson do-it-all athlete Isaiah Simmons, who is now with the Arizona Cardinals.

Is a physical prototype with height, length and already well into his physical development as a high school junior. Strong in his lower body. Changes directions and runs straight line very well for a player of his size. Smooth in his transitions and is capable of playing in space and even covering man to man at 210 pounds. Shows good ball skills and hands. The question is, long term, will he grow into an outside linebacker even though he has the athletic skills to play safety, or will be some kind of hybrid? If he is to move into the box, he will have to show he can take on blocks and be physical with offensive linemen and lead blockers. Likelihood is he continues to grow towards being in the front seven, but will be a unique athlete at that spot who can still move around and play different roles. The possibilities for him are numerous because of a rare skill set and measurables.

Ohio State linebacker coach Al Washington is leading the charge for the Buckeyes while former Buckeye linebacker Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame’s new defensive coordinator, is the Irish’s primary recruiter for Styles. Right now, the 247Sports Crystal Ball favors Notre Dame but the Buckeyes could very well be in the lead and will be in this one until the very end, no matter what.

Another Ohio standout that Ohio State has left a positive impression on is four-star offensive/defensive lineman Luke Montgomery of Findlay (OH). 247Sports grades the third best player in the state as a defensive lineman but he could very well find his way along the offensive trenches at the next level.

One thing that can’t be debated is the Buckeyes standing in his recruitment. Montgomery has made multiple stops to Columbus to check out the campus which is always a positive development. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder also included Ohio State in his top twelve that he released towards the conclusion of June. The Buckeyes are hoping to outlast the likes of Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, and Tennessee for Montgomery.

Lastly for the offered four, Ohio State also has their eyes on four-star interior offensive lineman Joshua Padilla of Wayne (OH). Padilla received his offer from the Buckeyes in March and the No. 5 player in the state has over a dozen scholarship opportunities at his disposal. 247Sports’ Bill Kurelic currently has Ohio State in the driver’s seat for the Dayton native as he placed a crystal ball prediction in favor of the Buckeyes.

If you’re looking for some other potential in-state kids that could garner offers from the Scarlet and Gray when all is said and done, look no further than four-star linebacker Trevor Carter of Ironton (OH) and four-star wide receiver Anthony Brown of Springfield (OH). Both are players the Buckeyes are monitoring and both find themselves among the very best that the state has to offer.