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Four-star DL from North Carolina includes Ohio State in top group

After offering early last year, the Buckeyes find themselves inside the top five for a blue chip defensive line target.

Keith Sampson
Nick Faulkner, 247Sports

In the last two recruiting classes for the Buckeyes, Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson has put together his two best defensive line hauls since arriving in Columbus. With his sights set similarly in the 2023 class, Johnson and the Buckeyes found themselves in the top group for one interior target from North Carolina. Plus, an Ohio State legacy picked up a Buckeye offer on Friday morning.

Sampson down to five

After offering back in April of last year, the Buckeyes learned where they stand in the recruitment of 2023 four-star defensive lineman Keith Sampson of New Bern (NC) as he revealed his top five schools on Saturday.

Sampson woke up on Saturday morning with 23 offers under his belt before ultimately deciding to trim things down to just five schools. With the Buckeyes being included in that group, they have to outlast the likes of Clemson, Georgia, NC State, and South Carolina for the 6-foot-3, 285-pounder.

Sampson is currently slotted in as the No. 207 overall prospect in the country. The Tar Heel State standout also finds himself ranked as the 30th highest graded defensive lineman in the class and the fourth best player from the state of North Carolina.

Buckeye legacy offered

Ohio State offered a prospect that should sound like a very familiar one for Buckeye fans across the world. On Friday morning, it was 2023 three-star defensive lineman Will Smith Jr. of Dublin Coffman (OH) who was on the receiving end of an offer from the Scarlet and Gray. The in-state prospect is the son of the late Will Smith, an Ohio State defensive end from 2000-2003 who won a national championship in Columbus.

The offer from the Buckeyes likely puts them in a favorable position to land the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder thanks in part to the obvious connection for the two parties. It is also the biggest offer to date for Smith Jr., with offers from the likes of Boston College, Duke, Illinois, Northwestern, and West Virginia being the most notable opportunities for Smith prior to the offer from the in-state Buckeyes.

Smith Jr. is currently graded as the 14th best player from the state of Ohio. If he ultimately does pick Ohio State, it would be the first prospect from Dublin Coffman (OH) to choose the Buckeyes since the 2008 class when the program signed five-star offensive tackle Mike Adams and four-star tight end Jake Stoneburner.

Quick Hits

  • Ohio State signee and 2022 four-star point guard Bruce Thornton of Milton (GA) had himself quite the weekend. Thornton put together 21-point and 34-point performances in consecutive days to lead his team to victory over both Nixa (MO) and Whitney Young (IL), including a game winning three-point buzzer beater in their contest on Friday night.
  • Buckeye head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis stopped in to see 2023 four-star offensive tackle Luke Montgomery and 2025 quarterback Ryan Montgomery of Findlay (OH) for their basketball game against Lima Senior (OH) on Friday. Offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson also stopped by for practice at the high school on Sunday to check in on the two.
  • 2023 four-star tight end Andrew Rappleyea of Milton Academy (MA) committed to Michigan on Sunday. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder had an offer from the Buckeyes and even included them in his top seven before ultimately deciding on the rival Wolverines.