Whether you’re happy or disappointed in Ohio State’s early signing day results, there is an argument to be made for both positive and negative feelings. The fact of the matter is that the Buckeyes were able to sign 20 players that are among the best in the country at their positions. Loaded with talent in every cycle, this recent haul may not be the largest number of guys to be brought in, but it’s still the second-ranked class behind only Alabama when it comes to the per-player rankings according to 247Sports. That alone should give you some insight into the quality of players that Ohio State was able to sign.
On the flip side though, negativity has been spread all over the social media world by Buckeye fans over the last 24 hours and that’s solely due not to who Ohio State landed, but — of course — who they didn’t land. Myself included, it just feels like there were some swings and misses that are major blows to the class, and potentially the program.
Regardless of NIL implications, proximity to home for certain players, or for another reason that can explain away why a certain guy didn’t sign with Ohio State, it’s just unfortunate to lose out on so many top-ranked targets, especially when it seems like the Buckeyes came in second for many of them. Speaking mainly on the defensive line, the haul is definitely solid already, but landing even one of the three major defensive ends that the Buckeyes had long been in on could have made all the difference in the world in the vibe of this class.
Again, whatever feelings you have on this recent signing day outcome, they are valid. As I mentioned yesterday, seeing multiple guys that Ohio State not wanted — and at one time was even in the lead for — picking other destinations for one reason or another stung.
Right or wrong, certain coaches didn’t have the greatest cycles and while I could go on and on down that rabbit hole, I’ll save the negativity and focus on the positives this class provides because there are several players worth celebrating.
The top position group for 2023’s haul
The receiver position at Ohio State has done nothing but flourish under Brian Hartline. Without getting on the soapbox too much, the on-field and recruiting success that Hartline has helped create is second to none and this cycle once again cements his name as the best in the country when it comes to receiver coaches.
Finishing with three of the top ten receivers in the country thanks to Brandon Inniss, Noah Rogers, and Carnell Tate, you would think this would be more than enough, but Hartline was also able to get one of the more underrated guys in the cycle, Bryson Rodgers as well. The four of these players boast the top receiver class in the country and it’s not particularly close. USC likely comes in second place, but again, what Ohio State has coming in each year is the best that the country has to offer and there’s a direct correlation to why the position has never been better in Columbus.
For me, the best aspect of this WR class is the variety of athletes included. Inniss, for instance, can do it all. A thicker player, he can play outside or inside and just makes life a nightmare for opposing defenses. Running extremely well after the catch is also at the top of his game.
Tate and Rogers are more of your true outside receivers and have the speed to take the top off of the defense in a hurry. Both are incredible route runners and won’t need a ton of love and care when it comes to getting ready for the college game. With Rodgers, you see another guy that doesn’t struggle for any athleticism. The ceiling for this group is scary.
Favorite player in the class
As a coach who works with receivers personally, normally my go-to for a favorite player in an Ohio State signing class is the position I teach, but this year I have to go with the late addition quarterback, Lincoln Kienholz.
A player that I didn’t know much about before he flipped from Washington, his name was quickly at the top of many lists when the Buckeyes needed a signal caller after losing Brock Glenn. Sure enough, Ryan Day worked his magic again and the opportunity to be a Buckeye was too good to turn down for Lincoln.
What makes him my favorite addition to this class, however, is his pure athleticism. Not many high school athletes can play three sports and excel at all of them, and Lincoln does that and then some. A multiple-state champion winner, this South Dakota native brings moxie to the quarterback room that the Buckeyes haven’t always had. In addition, while the comparisons are pretty lofty, Kienholz being mentioned in the same breath as Joe Burrow shows how dynamic he can be behind center.
Look below for the type of athlete that Lincoln is and the competitive nature he brings to the table.
Whether QB @LincolnKienholz ends up signing with Washington or Ohio State— Tanner Castora (@Tanner_Castora) December 14, 2022
That’s a Division I Shooting Guard
That’s a Division I Baseball player (Shortstop)
They’re signing one of the best overall HS athletes in the United States.. With humility far past his age. pic.twitter.com/irWwFmyzIn
Player not getting enough attention
If there’s one player on the defensive side of the ball that might legitimately have a role as a true freshman, for me it’s defensive tackle signee, Kayden McDonald. A 310-pound monster in the middle, McDonald has a ton to offer. Even playing some fullback for his Georgia powerhouse high school team, Kayden’s film is just so impressive. His burst off the ball is what stands out the most, but his ability to eat up the interior of the offensive line allowing the linebackers behind him to clean up the rest is something that Larry Johnson is going to rave over. A frame you can’t always find, this is a player that Ohio State is thrilled to steal out of SEC country.
Maybe not the highest ranking for a defensive tackle, but there’s still so much to be excited about with McDonald. Fans always want to land the larger SEC-type interior guys along the defensive line and he certainly fits that bill.
As mentioned previously, the receiver position recruiting in 2023 was incredible. What makes it that much more impressive, however, is seeing Hartline even add to the class with preferred walk-on players. Never the most popular topics, the Buckeyes have still seen their walk-ons in recent history contribute in major ways and the latest addition of Brennen Schramm might just be the next in line.
A Medina, Ohio product, Schramm was an All-Ohio first-team selection during both his junior and senior seasons, and is no stranger to putting up big numbers. The main target for now Penn State QB, Drew Allar, the two of them put up some prolific stats in their time.
At any rate, Hartline getting another player of this caliber to walk on is a major win. He will provide depth and, as we’ve seen with other walk-ons, his chance to be developed under Hartline at Ohio State may lead to bigger roles down the road.
Overall this is just a solid class. It has a little bit of everything and the 2023 cycle as a whole isn’t over yet. There’s still time before the February signing period and there’s no reason why the Buckeyes can’t continue trying to add to their roster until then.
Focusing on the positives, this class should absolutely be something the fanbase is excited about and even with some disappointments along the way, 2023’s class — in addition to the recent cycles — makes for one of the best rosters in college football. Not all is bad in Columbus right now, even if there are some aspects that aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders.