When it comes to recruiting, nothing is guaranteed. While highly-touted recruits are pretty solid with keeping their commitments in the grand scheme of things, it’s an important realization that these are teenagers at the end of the day. Decisions are going to be made, and sometimes backing out of commitments and heading elsewhere happens. The Buckeyes have been part of those situations before and certainly will be in the future too. It’s part of the recruiting business and it’s not going to change any time soon.
Specifically speaking, however, this update isn’t necessarily about commitments and those pledges sticking. In this regard, the idea of a “package deal” is the main focus.
Every recruiting cycle there seems to be the propensity that at least one duo or group of top targets have the goal or dream to play together at the next level at the same school. While that’s all fine and dandy, many times these “package deals” aren’t anything more than a pipedream. These top high school recruits have to do what’s best for themselves, and while playing with a friend or another top national recruit seems to be a great idea, rarely does it work out. Players have different wants and needs. The package deal may seem like a great idea at the time, but more times than not, the players go their separate ways.
Three big time targets hinting at a package deal?
Cutting right to the chase and the reasoning for all the backstory, on Sunday night three major recruiting targets in the 2023 class took to their respective Twitter accounts to release an update that each of them would be committing to the school of their choice on July 23, this coming summer.
Not an unusual practice for recruits to announce their decision dates, this one stuck out as a bit more interesting because the three players went out of their way to include each other’s names in the tweets, almost pointing towards the notion that the three would be selecting the same schools when July 23 comes to pass. Could just be a coincidence, but all three being from the same class and also all from Florida, it looks like there could be enough heat behind this that would make it seem realistic.
The targets in question: defensive lineman Derrick LeBlanc, offensive lineman Payton Kirkland, and linebacker Malik Bryant. All four-stars or better, the trio of these players is elite enough that they’re certainly worth mentioning. In regards to the Buckeyes, all three having offers makes this worth paying attention to moving forward. Specifically, LeBlanc and Kirkland are the two that have the closest connection to Ohio State, as they’re two names that have been brought up often in the 2023 class. But if these three are a package deal, that’s an epic haul for the school they decide on.
LeBlanc is a player that at one time was a strong candidate to pick the Buckeyes early on and be the first member of Ohio State’s 2023 class. Of the three guys set to announce in July, he’s the one that would be likely associated with Ohio State.
After taking multiple visits to Columbus already, LeBlanc is no stranger to the Buckeyes, and while he of course didn’t make a commitment official early on, the Buckeyes still believe they’re in a good spot. Per the 247Sports Crystal Ball, Ohio State does own both submissions in their favor, so clearly they’re right in the mix still for the nation’s 87th best player overall and the 11th best defensive lineman in the 2023 class.
Second on the list and the second player that would be a likely candidate to choose Ohio State, Kirkland is also not a new name for the Buckeyes in 2023. Having been a common theme for the staff for sometime now, Kirkland is definitely still considering Ohio State as his school of choice, and would be a major addition for a class that will look to take a larger offensive line haul than they typically do.
At 6-foot-6, 345 pounds, Payton is a tremendous size and talent which makes it easy to see why he has over 50 offers to his name from every major program in the country. The 203rd best player nationally, Kirkland is also the 18th best offensive tackle and will be one player position coach Justin Frye keeps working on for this current cycle. As is stands now, Miami and Florida have the only Crystal Ball predictions, but there’s a long way to go until late July.
Last and certainly not least, Bryant of the three is the name that is least linked to Ohio State. He does have an Ohio State offer, but not a name that has been mentioned much as the aforementioned LeBlanc and Kirkland. Regardless, this five-star linebacker would be every bit of a home run addition for any program, and having over 40 offers to his name, it’s not going to be easy to land him.
The 27th best player nationally, Bryant is also considered to be the second best linebacker in the class and the eighth best player in Florida. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has his eyes pretty set on one linebacker target already in Tackett Curtis, but with the defense needing to improve quickly and especially at the linebacker spot, any top target like this is going to be one the Buckeyes shoot their shot with.
Putting everything together, package deals as mentioned don’t always work out. This trio is interesting because two of the three are certainly names Ohio State is linked to. As July gets closer, it will start to settle itself out, but the three names being tossed out together by these players definitely makes you think. Maybe it will work out that the three go their separate ways and the decision timeline was just to announce together, but an update like that really makes it look like it’s the combination could be coming to one school.
For Ohio State, they just need to continue doing what they do well and that’s recruit. The rest should take care of itself. Either way, any of these three players as additions to the 2023 class would be incredible gets for a group that will look to be another top national caliber haul for Ryan Day and his crew.