As this offseason really starts to get underway, recruiting will once again regain the focus of the coaching staff. As the 2022 class has at least one more spot up for grabs, the coaches will look to shore that up. As we’ve seen recently, this week is providing some great insight to many of the 2022 signees who are putting on great showings at the All-American Game practices in San Antonio.
Jim Knowles lands a familiar face
It’s pretty obvious Ohio State’s defense wasn’t up to their standard this season. Sure, many programs may scoff at the Buckeyes and their 11-2 season and think the fanbase is overreacting, but that alone is what separates Ohio State from many others, and a huge reason why they’re typically among the nation’s best teams each year. An 11-win season is great for most, but the Buckeyes expect to be in the College Football Playoff year in and year out, so when that’s not the case, changes need to be made and made quickly.
Those changes were made, and shows that Ryan Day intends on getting back to the playoff next season and believes in order to do so, the defense needed to be fixed. With Jim Knowles now officially on the job, he can begin making those necessary changes that will help get Ohio State back to their standard level of play. While it’s not going to be an overnight fix by any means, if Knowles can take Oklahoma State’s defense to a top three ranking in the nation with players not ranked higher than a three-star, the excitement comes from wondering what he can do with all of the talent the Buckeyes have now and will have thanks to the 2022 class.
As Knowles gets introduced with his new defense, he will fortunately have one familiar face to work with, as on Wednesday the Buckeyes landed portal transfer defensive back Tanner McCalister. A former Oklahoma State safety, McCalister has played the first three years of his career for Knowles, and took to Twitter yesterday afternoon to announce that he would be playing for Knowles again in his final collegiate season in Columbus. Not the most surprising decision, it was a pretty safe assumption that when he entered his name in the portal it made sense for him to have interest in Ohio State, but now it’s official.
Besides just his ability, what makes this move so intriguing for Ohio State is they of course have further depth at safety, which surely they could have used this year, but McCalister’s addition to Ohio State is a perfect fit because he can help coach the Buckeye players as they learn this new defensive scheme. In addition, McCalister already has an existing relationship with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, thanks to being from the same hometown in Texas. As Ryan Day has made it clear many times, additions via the portal have to make sense from a position stance, but also a culture stance too. This is a seamless transition in regards to McCalister.
Having a safety who had 120-plus tackles for Oklahoma State now on your roster helps the overall talent in the room, but as far as experience goes and certainly his knowledge of the defense Knowles runs, this is a big time get for the Buckeyes, and is another step in the right direction for this defense as it begins an overhaul.
Quick All-American Game updates
Wednesday marked another day where several of Ohio State’s 2022 signees were on the field prepping for the All-American Game coming this weekend. Last weekend, we saw guys like CJ Hicks, Gabe Powers, and new commit Omari Abor take the field in Under Armour’s All-American contest, but this weekend will feature an even greater number of Buckeye signees on the field ,though some are unable to attend due to Covid. The best part of these games is seeing the talent Ohio State is bringing in, but also realizing when their play stands out, it’s even more impressive because of the caliber of opponent it’s against. Already, this week has shown Ohio State is in great hands moving forward.
Of note, quarterback signee Devin Brown has looked great in practice sessions. His arm strength, accuracy, and decision making have all been on display in many instances, and that should have Buckeye fans thrilled that once again the quarterback room is adding another elite signal caller Ryan Day can further develop. Below you can see just a glimpse into his accuracy as he threads one over a defender’s head in a perfect spot for the receiver to score.
Devin Brown hits a long touchdown pass on a perfect throw on 7-on-7 drills. pic.twitter.com/9XgUHfRV3k— Garrick Hodge (@Garrick_Hodge) January 5, 2022
On the offensive line, the Buckeyes have a trio of Tegra Tshabola, Carson Hinzman and George Fitzpatrick all competing in this weekend’s festivities, and the three of them are showing why they were All-American selections. The Buckeyes need elite level offensive linemen in every class, and these three signees whether it be size, strength, or mobility are showing why they each were big time gets and will keep the trenches in great shape as they head to Columbus. See below for some short clips that display these talented traits. Again, it’s important to note the caliber of talent they are facing, which further proves their abilities.
On the defensive side of the ball, it would be wrong to not also include Caden Curry, who has impressed with his overall power and agility down in Texas. Arguably the most important defensive line target for the Buckeyes in this 2022 class, Curry even as a high four-star recruit may be under the radar ,and will look to show the rest of the nation why Ohio State is getting one of the best defensive prospects in the country.
- In addition to the names previously mentioned, the Buckeyes also have receivers Kojo Antwi and Kyion Grayes in Texas this weekend. Kaleb Brown was also a selection, but due to Covid he’s been unable to participate.
On Wednesday, the aforementioned Antwi was interviewed, and while he previewed his excitement to get to Columbus, an interesting and possible hint to some good news coming Saturday may have been leaked out. The safe bet right now is linking the interview with the commitment of Hero Kanu, who will announce this weekend and per the 247Sports Crystal Ball predications, the Buckeyes look to be in a great spot to land the 18th best defensive lineman and 105th best player nationally to an already stellar 2022 class.