Simply put, Ohio State has not exactly thrown its weight around like it should in the NIL era. All too often, the Buckeyes are missing out on some of the most highly rated players around the country because they refuse to get their hands dirty. As a result, you wind up with some holes at key positions. Those holes can be filled through the transfer portal, but that would require a willingness to reflect on your own missteps — something Ryan Day is incapable of doing as Ohio State’s head coach.
Nonetheless, Day has a chance to prove me wrong this offseason, at least in this regard, if he can hit on some big transfers. The portal is loaded with upper-echelon talent already, and there is no reason the Buckeyes shouldn’t be in on a handful of these guys in order to make the roster better and make up for some misses on the recruiting trail.
Let’s check out some of the big names that have already entered the portal with ties to Ohio State.
Fentrell Cypress II (CB, Virginia)
As of Wednesday morning, Fentrell Cypress II is the No. 1 overall player currently listed in the transfer portal, according to 247Sports. A native of South Carolina, Cypress wasn’t all that highly rated coming out of high school, as he was a three-star recruit and the No. 91 cornerback in the 2019 class. However, the 6-foot, 184-pound DB has far outplayed his recruiting rankings, and is one of the most highly sought after prospects in the portal. With Ohio State’s secondary playing subpar at best in 2022, this addition would make sense.
Cypress was named Second Team All-ACC after leading the conference with 14 pass breakups this past fall in only nine games. He ranked fourth in all of FBS with 1.56 passes defended per game. He totals only one career interception, but his stats are reminiscent of a guy like Jeff Okudah, whom teams were afraid to throw at. Cypress is reportedly looking for a place that can help develop him into a first round NFL Draft pick. According to Steve Wiltfong, the Buckeyes are on him hard.
“The Buckeyes called a little after 4:00 p.m. EST time, and Thursday morning a source said the Buckeyes are ‘on him hard,’” said Wiltfong on Tuesday. “As things continue to shake out for Cypress, the source said that Ohio State is expected to be in the mix moving forward.”
Dasan McCullough (LB, Indiana)
A name we expected to see in the transfer portal this offseason, Dasan McCullough is a name that Ohio State fans likely recognize. A former top-100 recruit, the linebacker/edge defender was at one time committed to the Buckeyes. With his father, Deland McCullough, taking a job on Indiana’s staff, he would eventually de-commit to join his dad with the Hoosiers. However, Deland has since left Indiana to take the job as Notre Dame’s running backs coach, so Dasan is now on his way out as well.
It remains to be seen if Ohio State will once again try and reel in the young star, but McCullough would be a welcomed addition to the Buckeyes’ 2023 roster. McCullough has already shown what he is capable of as a freshman, leading the Hoosiers with four sacks to go along with 49 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups. He is clearly the stud that his recruiting profile said he would be, but getting him to Columbus seems like an uphill battle.
While there is already the chance he once again follows his father and takes his talents to Notre Dame, it seems as though it is actually Oklahoma that stands as the current favorite to land McCullough. His younger brother, 2023 safety Daeh McCullough, is committed to Cincinnati, but with Luke Fickell leaving for Wisconsin, he has began receiving Crystal Balls to flip to the Sooners, and it would appear he and Dasan want to play together.
JQ Hardaway (CB, Cincinnati)
Like Cypress, JQ Hardaway is another player Ohio State could look to add to bolster its cornerback room. Following his freshman year at Cincinnati, Hardaway is on the move following Fickell’s exit. A top-200 player overall as a recruit, the 6-foot-3 defensive back was listed as a safety out of high school, but played cornerback for the Bearcats. Most importantly, he was recruited to Cinci by Perry Eliano, who is currently the safeties coach at Ohio State.
Hardaway was used sparingly for the Bearcats in his first year at the collegiate level, playing just 95 snaps over 11 games this season. Still, he was the second-highest rated player in Cincinnati’s 2022 class, and was expected to be the next top DB at a program that recently produced NFL players Sauce Gardner and Coby Bryant, both of which came under Eliano’s tutelage.
Could the two look to form a reunion about two hours north?
Tunmise Adeleye (DL, Texas A&M)
One of the many names to throw their name in the transfer portal from Texas A&M’s 2021 recruiting class, Tunmise Adeleye is another former Ohio State commit that is now once again available. A top-40 player and the No. 9 overall defensive lineman in the cycle, Adeleye committed to the Buckeyes back in April 2020, but de-committed in August before joining the Aggies’ class in December, likely due to more lucrative NIL opportunities.
You can’t blame a kid for chasing the money, but now he’s probably looking to go to a school that actually wins games. Adeleye did not get a chance to show his stuff at the next level, as injuries really derailed his redshirt freshman season and limited him to just two games played. However, he was expected to at least be in the mix for a starting job at defensive end for A&M this season, and was certainly in line to be a starter next year opposite Shemar Stewart in College Station.
With Zach Harrison almost certainly off to the NFL, will Ohio State look to get Adeleye back in the fold?
Myles Hinton (OL, Stanford)
This is more of a long shot than even the last few names, as Myles Hinton really has no connections to Ohio State. A top-75 player in the 2020 class, Hinton was the No. 6 offensive tackle in the country, and the No. 9 prospect out of talent-rich Georgia. Despite being Crystal Balled to Michigan, he wound up taking his talents to Stanford, but is now once again on the market after longtime Cardinal head coach David Shaw’s resignation from the program.
Listed at 6-foot-7, 320 pounds, Hinton spent the last three seasons at Stanford, earning the Most Outstanding Freshman Award in 2020 and being named Preseason All-Pac 12 prior to this year. Ohio State is going to have some big holes to fill at offensive tackle this offseason with both Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones expected to enter the NFL Draft. Position coach Justin Frye could look to bring in a proven commodity like Hinton to help bridge the gap and make up for prior recruiting misses from his predecessor.