Thursday proved to be another major day in the world of Ohio State football recruiting, so without further hesitation, here’s some of the latest rumblings concerning the Buckeyes on the trail.
Top remaining in-state target announces commitment plans
The Buckeyes will always be a national brand on the recruiting trail, and that has allowed them to bring in elite players from all over the country year in and year out. That’s a theme that won’t change any time soon, but so too will the priority of keeping Ohio’s best in-state players at home for their college careers. So far, Ryan Day and crew have done a great job at landing more than the majority of their top Ohio natives, and in the 2023 class they’re off to a great start.
On Thursday, the highest ranked remaining in-stater who has yet to commit, Malik Hartford, gave a major update in his recruitment when he announced via his Twitter account that he has set a date for his commitment. Planning to announce on April 6, Hartford will be making his college decision live of CBS Sports and doing so from his high school, Lakota West.
The fourth-best player in Ohio for the 2023 class, the Buckeyes have Hartford on their board as a top priority for many reasons. Playing a position of need at safety is a critical piece to it, but keeping him at home is also a major desire for the coaching staff. Hartford is a player that saw his stock increase drastically and after naming a top seven in February. It looks like the nation’s 11th best safety and 154th best player overall is ready to decide on his home for the next few years.
Hartford made his last trip to Columbus in early March, and the visit was another chance for the Buckeyes to make a lasting impact. The safe bet now is that they’ll be the one in the end who wins out for Malik’s commitment. Currently, there's five predictions submitted on the 247Sports Crystal Ball, and they all favor Ohio State. The wait won’t be long now, but this looks to be another great addition to a class ready to take off.
More names on the guest list
This weekend is a huge recruiting weekend for the Buckeyes. Like the rest of spring ball, each practice is an opportunity to host big time recruiting targets, and the coaches have done a terrific job at both compiling an impressive guest list, but also rolling out the red carpet for those who make the trip. Thursday was another day of more big names making plans to head to Columbus, and some of those are mentioned below.
Starting off with a 2024 running back, five-star Stacy Gage shared that he will be in town this weekend to join the many other top players also in attendance. A 5-foot-11, 200 pound talent out Florida’s IMG Academy, Gage is currently ranked as the second best running back in the country for his class and the 16th best player nationally per 247Sports.
Ohio State and position coach Tony Alford love to recruit the Sunshine State. They are hoping to land the nation’s top running back in the 2023 class, Richard Young out of Florida in this current cycle, but would of course be thrilled at the opportunity to also be a serious player for Gage moving forward. This weekend’s visit is a chance to continue building a strong relationship and for coach Alford to gain some momentum.
Staying right at IMG Academy, Ohio State will host another top target from the national power house this weekend when class of 2025 receiver Winston Watkins Jr. gets to Columbus for a multiple day stay. A 5-foot-10, 175 pound freshman, Watkins is currently committed to Texas A&M and has been since December, but having three more years to go before he signs with anyone, Ohio State is happy to have him on campus, as he’s clearly not only just a top receiver in the 2025 class, but a top player regardless of position.
Coach Hartline does a phenomenal job when it comes to building relationships with guys at his position group, and this weekend he will certainly have his work cut out for him. Top priority targets in the current class such as Carnell Tate will be the main objective this weekend, but with how talented Winston is, the Buckeyes will certainly look to make a lasting impression that gives them a shot to have him rethinking being committed this early on. It’s going to be a fun weekend nonetheless.
Third on the list for big time guests this weekend, the Buckeyes will play host to 2024 offensive line target, Waltclaire Flynn Jr. A 6-foot-1, 290 pound interior lineman out of Georgia, Flynn is currently ranked as the third best player at his position in the 2024 cycle and also the 68th best player nationally per the 247Sports Composite.
Having double-digit offers to his name already, schools such as Georgia, Arkansas, Florida State, Tennessee, Miami, and a handful of others have already thrown their name into the mix. While Ohio State has yet to offer, this weekend’s visit could definitely be a step towards that development, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him leave with the Buckeyes at least close to pulling the trigger if not doing so. Regardless, this is another big time player in the trenches the staff will look to impress.
Successful visits aplenty
Much like the growing guest list for Ohio State, the Buckeyes are seeing some major traction with how well these visits are going for many of the guys they have hosted. Taking to their respective social media accounts to share their time in Columbus, it’s pretty clear the staff is doing a great job at impressing both in-state and national prospects.
Cedric Baxter Jr.
A four-star running back, Baxter was on campus on Thursday and it seems to have been a great visit. The fourth best running back in the 2023 class, the Florida native is also the 66th best player nationally. A whopping 50-plus offers have already been dished out to Baxter, but as the Buckeyes continue to go through the process of landing a running back, he is a name certainly worth watching in addition to Young and Justice Haynes.
Aaron Scott Jr.
Making the short trip over from Springfield, Ohio, 2024 prospect Scott was also in town to take in the Buckeyes practice and facilities. A 6-foot-1, 160 pound athlete with nearly ten offers to his name, Scott currently has schools such as Kentucky, Boston College, Indiana, Tennessee, and more already in the fold, but trips like these could eventually lead to the Buckeyes being closer to offering.
Just like any other visit, Ohio State did a great job hosting and had Scott leaving impressed.