The rise of Brian Hartline as both a recruiter and a developer of talent has been one of the major successes for Ohio State in recent years. The Buckeye wide receiver coach has had his hand in bringing the likes of Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming, Marvin Harrison Jr., Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jameson Williams (Alabama) and many more to Columbus, while sending others to the highest level of them all.
Each recruiting class seems to guarantee one thing in particular, and that is Hartline hitting home runs on the trail as he brings the best of the best to his pass catching room and to the offense of the scarlet and gray.
In the 2023 class, Hartline has seen the likes of five-star wide receiver Zachariah Branch of Bishop Gorman (NV) pledge to USC and four-star wide receiver Braylon James of Stony Point (TX) chose Notre Dame, despite holding offers from Ohio State. But as usual, there is no reason to be concerned, as the Buckeyes are in play for many blue-chippers at the position.
As of now, the Buckeyes and Hartline have already added three-star wide receiver Bryson Rodgers of Wiregrass Ranch (FL) to the fold in the class. Two other names in particular get the most buzz when it comes to receivers that the Buckeyes are in on, with five-star wide receiver Brandon Inniss of American Heritage (FL) and high four-star wide receiver Carnell Tate of IMG Academy (FL) sitting high a top their board — and rightfully so.
However, there are two other names to monitor at the position and in recent days, we've learned that the Buckeyes look to be very much in the mix for this duo of pass-catchers.
On Thursday, it was four-star wide receiver Jalen Hale of Longview (TX) who gave Ohio State a positive update when the 6-foot-2, 175-pounder revealed the finalists in his recruitment. Hale, the No. 7 wide receiver in the class, narrowed his focus down to Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Texas A&M, USC, and of course the Buckeyes.
That same day that the aforementioned Hale revealed his finalists, four-star wide receiver Rico Flores of Folsom (CA) was recognized as a serious candidate for a wide receiver spot in Columbus. In a piece written by Matt Howe, it was revealed that 247Sports' Steve Wiltfong noted that Flores is "another pass-catcher out there that Ohio State's in great position for," in the latest episode of the 247Sports Football Recruiting Podcast.
“I loved everything about the trip,” Flores said of Ohio State. “Everything stood out, I can’t even pick out one thing that stood out the most for me because I really enjoyed it all there. The biggest thing for me was the environment. When you think of the Midwest, you think it’s going to be all country but it was real nice and I liked the overall set up there. It’s a cool college town and it’s a nice combination having stuff going on downtown with a relaxed environment near campus, too.”
The praise from both Hale and Flores towards the Buckeyes makes them two prospects to monitor closely as Hartline looks to round out his particular haul in the class. Also, despite not finding themselves in the top group for four-star wide receiver Johntay Cook II of DeSoto (TX), the Buckeyes are considered finalists for two others in four-star wide receiver Hykeem Williams of Stranhan (FL) and four-star wide receiver Jaquaize Pettaway of Langham Creek (TX).
Williams, the No. 6 WR in the class, announced a top group of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Miami (FL), Ohio State, Rutgers, Texas A&M, and USC back in February. As for Pettaway, who slots just outside of the Top 50 prospects overall, he narrowed his list of suitors down to 10 and the Buckeyes also found themselves included in the group.
As you can tell, there is no shortage of interest from prospects in the 2023 class when it comes to potentially suiting up for Hartline and the Buckeyes. That's not even taking into account that others like four-star wide receiver Noah Rogers of Rolesville (NC), four-star wide receiver Jonah Wilson of Dekaney (TX), four-star wide receiver Robert Stafford of Eau Gallie (FL), three-star wide receiver Chris Culliver of Maiden (NC), and three-star wide receiver Ronan Hanafin of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (MA) — five others in the class that also hold an offer from Ohio State.