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Will Ohio State ultimately take a running back in the 2023 class?

As we near the conclusion of the 2023 recruiting class, the Buckeyes still have a void at the running back spot. Will it be filled?

Jamarion Wilcox

With the regular season and conference championships now in the rear view, Ohio State will now look to prepare for Georgia in the playoff game, as well as finishing out the 2023 class on a good note. Will the Buckeyes ultimately add a running back in this years cycle? Will Ohio State be able to push away other programs from raiding their class?

Let’s talk about it.

Wilcox, Owens still options for the Buckeyes?

After Ohio State took a devastating blow at the position in mid-November when longtime pledge and four-star running back Mark Fletcher of American Heritage (FL) decommitted from the Buckeyes, the focus has been on whether or not the void would be filled.

Ohio State quickly casted an offer to four-star running back Jamarion Wilcox of South Paulding (GA) and tried to get back into the ear of four-star running back Reuben Owens of El Campo (TX) — a Louisville commit. While there seemed to be some slight momentum for the Buckeyes chances of maybe reeling in one of the two, perhaps that isn’t the reality as of today.

According to Jeremy Birmingham of Dotting The Eyes on Rivals, while the Buckeyes are still pushing to get the aforementioned Wilcox on campus this weekend for a visit, he does not think that will happen. Birmingham had similar sentiments for Owens, which could mean Ohio State walks away empty handed at the position.

While it would have been ideal for the Buckeyes to add at least one running back in the class, and maybe they still do in the coming months, the running back room for Tony Alford still has plenty of talent and experience at their disposal as long as the dreaded transfer portal or potential early NFL entrants don’t shake things up in Columbus.

Ohio State aiming to keep a trio of pledges in the fold

Another tall task for the Buckeyes as the 2023 class will come to a close in the coming weeks and months will be keeping their current pledges in the fold amidst coaching changes and programs also looking to close out their respective classes.

One program in specific that is eyeing a pair of Buckeye pledges is Auburn, who recently hired former Liberty coach Hugh Freeze. The Tigers have long been in pursuit of Ohio State pledge and four-star tight end Jelani Thurman of Langston Hughes (GA). The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder has made over a handful of visits to the Auburn campus and with Kevin Wilson now off to Tulsa, the Buckeyes still have work to do to keep Thurman in the fold. It remains to be seen just how concerned Ohio State should be in this specific recruitment, but it is certainly something to monitor going forward.

The other name that Auburn is looking to poach from the Buckeyes is four-star cornerback Kayin Lee of Cedar Grove (GA). The most notable change for Lee and the Buckeyes is that UAB recently hired Miguel Patrick, former high school coach of Lee, as a defensive line coach on Monday. Will the loss of Patrick from the Ohio State staff be enough to get Lee to reconsider his pledge?

Lastly, it seems as if the Buckeyes still have work to do with four-star cornerback Jermaine Matthews of Winton Woods (OH). The 6-foot-0, 175-pounder has been committed to Ohio State since July but that isn’t stopping the highly NIL equipped Hurricanes of Miami (FL) from attempting to pry him off of that pledge.

According to Birmingham, Matthews is currently scheduled to take an official visit to Miami next weekend. If that visit takes place, it will definitely be of concern to the Buckeyes and where they stand with Matthews, who seemed to have a not so fond reaction on Twitter to Ohio State being interested in transfer portal cornerback prospect Fentrell Cypress II from Virginia.

Quick Hits

  • Now former Ohio State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, at least after the playoffs, was introduced as Tulsa’s Head Coach on Tuesday. Wilson, who spent nearly six years with the Buckeyes, revealed at his press conference that he was still out recruiting for the program on Monday.
  • Ohio State target and 2025 four-star linebacker Jadon Perlotte of Buford (GA) was Crystal Balled on 247Sports to stay home and land with Georgia on Tuesday. Perlotte, who earned an offer from the Buckeyes back in June, is scheduled to make his collegiate declaration on Thursday.