It wasn’t long ago that a similar storyline was written about how in-state 2023 prospect, Sonny Styles is the top recruiting priority in the class for the Buckeyes. The same is still true. Being an Ohio State legacy, living just miles away from campus, and being the eighth ranked player in the entire country are all major reasons why the staff has to get Styles committed. He’s simply too good of a player for Ohio State to let him get away, and the focus for some time now has been directed at ensuring that he stays home.
So if Styles is the top priority, there has to be a second, and this latest update is all about who the Buckeyes seem to be focusing on as their next “must get” in 2023. Only having one verbal pledge in the fold so far, Ohio State’s 2023 class isn’t as large as it normally is this far into the timeline, but they’re also not in bad shape either. It’s only a matter of time before the ball really gets rolling in terms of commitments. With the pandemic throwing off a year’s worth of visits, it was inevitable that the current junior and senior cycles would be unusual when it can to timing. But here’s to hoping that OSU gets the BOOMs going sooner rather than later.
But in terms of who the next OSU priority should be, Troy Bowles is the answer here. Not necessarily a new name to Ohio State recruiting, but the level of importance surrounding the linebacker has seen a steady rise over the last several weeks. Whether that’s because of the caliber of player he is or the fact that Ohio State has a solid chance at landing his commitment in the end, Bowles should definitely be the second top priority for the Buckeyes as they look to build another top class in the 2023 cycle.
Talent speaks for itself
Right now, Bowles grades out as fourth best linebacker in the class per the 247Sports composite rankings. In addition, he’s also regarded as the 52nd best player in the country and the 12th best player in the talent-rich Florida. A high four-star, Bowles has offers from over 30 programs and clearly has no shortage of options when it comes to the next level. His talent level is certainly an attribute every school is wanting, but when you think of Ohio State’s defense right now, it’s not wrong to think that it’s the linebackers that need the most help, and his ability would help them on the field in defending both the run and pass game.
Not that there’s been miss after miss on the recruiting trail in the past couple of cycles, but having this highly touted of a linebacker in the fold would improve the depth immensely. In the current 2022 cycle, the Buckeyes have Ohio’s top in-state player in the fold in C.J. Hicks, but what makes it even better is that Hicks is currently the nation’s second best linebacker. The chance to put both Hicks and Bowles together in back-to-back classes would be a huge development of the linebacker room and that’s just another reason why Bowles is being so valued.
Football lineage in the Bowles family
To put it rather simply, Troy comes from a serious football family. For those who may not already know, Troy’s dad Todd is currently the Defensive Coordinator for the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coming from that type of pedigree, it only makes sense to see the younger Bowles so highly regarded as a defensive player, and with his lineage, odds are that he understands the game more in depth than the typical high school athlete does.
That said, if Ohio State was able to land Bowles’ commitment, it may pay off big time. Yes, the talent and natural ability are there, but it’s the mindset that sets Bowles ahead of others. Quite literally, if the assumption is that thanks to his lineage, Bowles understands the grand scheme of things in terms of x’s and o’s, it stands to reason that he would be able to pick up OSU’s schemes faster than most young LBs, which could lead to him getting on the field quicker.
In addition, with the football experience in the Bowles family, they likely know better than most what to look for in selecting a college program. Todd being a high-level coach will assuredly allow him to understand the differences between what programs have to offer. He knows what his son needs to have the best shot at playing at the highest level, and it’s been said that the Bowles family has been very impressed with Ryan Day and Ohio State’s staff.
Whether it be from a success standpoint on the field, what they do for development, or the life after football concepts, Todd knows that his son would be well taken care of in Columbus. So far so good.
Immediate help in the front seven
It was touched on previously, but while the pairing of Bowles in the 2023 class and Hicks in the 2022 cycle would be incredible, it’s also important to see how Bowles fits into the Ohio State defensive scheme and where he would best be used.
Currently, Troy checks in at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds. That may not be the typical linebacker size for Ohio State, but it’s also not the only important factor. Bowles is only a high school junior with another year of prep ball during which he can continue growing and getting stronger for the next level. Also, upon his arrival to the college level, imagine what a strength coach like Mick Marotti can do for Bowles’ stature.
But, if you check out his film, you can see how Bowles would fit for Ohio State in a number of ways. His speed allows him to be a perfect option to defend the pass. With how college offenses are so spread out these days, having a linebacker who can cover is a huge advantage. Make no mistake about it either though, Bowles can flat out hit, and the film proves that to be the case.
He’s even used at times as a stand up rush end because of his speed around the the edge. Whether he’s used as an outside backer or even possibly as the “bullet” type of player for the Buckeyes, Bowles would be a perfect addition.
For every reason mentioned above, Troy Bowles is a major priority for the Buckeyes and their coaching staff. In reality, he needs to be in this class. What he is and what he can be for this defense only makes sense from the OSU side.
He’s reportedly high on Ohio State, and so is his family, which helps the Buckeyes’ chances immensely at this point in his recruitment. While there’s only two predictions right now on his 247Sports crystal ball, it’s telling that both belong to the Buckeyes.
Bowles was slated to visit Ohio State for the game this past weekend against Tulsa, but an unfortunate minor injury to his ankle in his game the night before derailed those visit plans. He does plan to return to campus this fall for a game day visit after camping this summer, but game has yet to be determined. The safe bet though is that whenever he does make the trip, the red carpet will be rolled out as he continues to be one of the highest targeted players in the 2023 class.