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Column: The pledge of Ty Lockwood likely kicks off another highly-ranked recruiting class for 2023

After securing pledge No. 1 for the 2023 cycle, the Buckeyes can begin their chase for a potential recruiting crown.

Ty Lockwood
Ryan Callahan, 247Sports

After growing concerns and impatience from the fanbase regarding the lack of additions in the 2023 recruiting class, Ohio State was finally able to get the class on the board on Thursday. That’s when four-star tight end Ty Lockwood of Independence (TN) announced his pledge to the Buckeyes over Florida State, Penn State, and South Carolina. The addition of the No. 142 overall player in the class and the third best player from Tennessee kicks of what you can bank on being yet another impressive haul for Head Coach Ryan Day and company.

2021 Big Ten Football Media Day Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Since the official hiring of Day as the leader of the football program back in 2019, he has had the opportunity to finalize three recruiting classes that featured 49 blue-chip prospects with 13 players of the five-star variety. He’s also currently piecing together a 2022 class that is running third in the class rankings despite the reclassification of their top-ranked pledge in five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers.

So, make no mistake about it — the 2023 recruiting class should carry similar expectations as the previous classes for Ohio State and the likelihood of yet another jaw-dropping haul seems very favorable. Strengthening that theory is an easy task when you take a look at the prospects who already have the Buckeyes among their top schools or could be considered leans to the good guys.

In the offensive backfield, the Buckeyes have had the luxury of having five-star running back Richard Young of Lehigh Senior (FL) on campus on two different occasions this summer. The No. 21 overall player and top-ranked back in the class has also included Ohio State in his top group of ten programs.

While Ohio State five-star wide receiver target Brandon Innis of American Heritage (FL) looks to be headed to Oklahoma later today, Brian Hartline has no shortage of pass-catchers to pursuit. One early candidate to take a spot in the 2023 class is four-star wide receiver Carnell Tate of IMG Academy (FL). With a decision coming in October for Tate, it seems as if it will be Notre Dame or Ohio State for the ninth ranked receiver.

Along the offensive front, two of the biggest targets for the Buckeyes are in-state prospects in four-star interior offensive lineman Joshua Padilla of Wayne (OH) and four-star offensive tackle Luke Montgomery of Findlay (OH). Ohio State looks to be positioned nicely for Padilla, who is a top five player in the state, and Montgomery has already shown his level of interest in the Buckeyes when he included them in his top group revealed back in. According to Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors, Lockwood has already been in touch with Montgomery, who fails just outside of the Top 50, about joining him in the class.

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has had tremendous success bringing in elite talent to Columbus. Four-star defensive lineman Derrick LeBlanc of Osceola (FL) is yet another that has been on-campus multiple times this summer and Ohio State could very well be considered the leader in the clubhouse for the No. 46 overall prospect. LeBlanc told Buckeye Grove’s Kevin Noon that he “came really close to committing” after a visit to the campus in late July.

Switching gears to the linebacker position, four-star linebacker Troy Bowles of Jesuit (FL) received a crystal ball prediction in favor of the Buckeyes on Saturday from Bucknuts’ Bill Kurelic. Four-star linebacker Josiah Trotter of St. Joseph’s (PA), the sixth ranked player in his state, has Ohio State in his top four and was formerly teammates with current Buckeyes Marvin Harrison Jr. and Kyke McCord. Trotter does have a brother, Jeremiah Trotter Jr., who is currently enrolled at Clemson however.

An impressive quartet of cornerbacks have all included Ohio State in their respective top groups. Three of the four are five-star prospects in Cormani McClain of Lake Gibson (FL), Tony Mitchell of Thompson (AL), and A.J. Harris of Glenwood School (AL). The other prospect that has the Buckeyes in consideration is four-star cornerback Kayin Lee of Cedar Grove (GA).

In the back end of the defensive backfield is where you will find what I would consider to be Ohio State’s top target regardless of position. That is five-star safety Sonny Styles of Pickerington Central (OH). Styles is the No. 8 player overall in the class and secures the top spot at his position and within the state of Ohio. In non-surprising fashion, the Irish and the Buckeyes look to be the two top schools in the running. Four-star safety Elliot Washington of Venice (FL) is another option after he included Ohio State in his top eight earlier this month and five-star athlete Joenel Aguero of IMG Academy (FL), who can play both sides of the ball at the next level, had the Buckeyes in his top collegiate candidates that he dropped in July.

With the outstanding number of prospects that hold the Buckeyes in high regard already and the success that the coaching staff has had on the recruiting trail, Ohio State is certainly primed for yet another top-tier class. That doesn’t even include the other kids that the Buckeyes are in on that have yet to reveal any top schools list.