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Downs set to announce commitment, while the visitor list for the Notre Dame game grows

The Buckeyes and Perry Eliano anxiously await the decision for one of their top targets in the defensive secondary.

Caleb Downs
Andrew Ivins, 247Sports

The Buckeyes will learn their fate for a top defensive back target later today, as the highly-coveted prospect will make his collegiate declaration. Plus, a pair of prospects have their sights set on Ohio State’s opening contest this season for their next visit to Columbus.

Downs to announce later today

The time has finally come for one of 2023’s top recruits to put a conclusion to his recruitment as five-star safety Caleb Downs of Mill Creek (GA) will announce his commitment just after noon. Downs, a Hoschton native, sorted through over 30 scholarship offers and is now prepared to choose between Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, and Ohio State.

For the Buckeyes, Downs has been a prospect that safeties coach Perry Eliano has pursued for quite some time, and it was never a secret on just how highly the program felt about Downs ever since they delivered an offer back in June of last year. Now, we wait as they will find out whether their efforts on the trail end in a major victory for the coaching staff.

On one side of things, it’s a plus that Ohio State had the luxury of being the last official visit taken by Downs. How much weight that holds is up for debate.

But on the other hand, the 247Sports Crystal Ball currently favors the Crimson Tide. While the forecast comes from a highly-respected recruiting analyst in Steve Wiltfong, it is the lone prediction placed for the 6-foot, 180-pounder. So, it’s safe to say that Downs has done a fine job of keeping things close to the vest, and that is a good reason that multiple programs will be on the edge of their seats as they await the decision.

If it is the Buckeyes that come out on top, Downs will bring a high-profile to Columbus that includes being slotted as the No. 12 overall prospect in the class. The Georgia standout also stands alone at the top of his position and is the highest-graded player from the Peach State in this year’s cycle.

Smith II, Watkins Jr. eye Buckeye visit

According to Garrick Hodge of Eleven Warriors, Ohio State could be on the verge of securing upcoming visits with 2024 four-star defensive lineman Nigel Smith II of Melissa (TX) and 2025 wide receiver Winston Watkins Jr. of IMG Academy (FL).

Smith II is widely considered one of the top prospects along the defensive front in next year’s class, and the 30 offers already under his belt backs that claim. Hodge notes that the Texas standout plans on attending the season opener against Notre Dame.

It was more of the same for Winston Jr., a Texas A&M pledge, who also revealed to Hodge that he plans on being in Columbus for the contest against the Irish. The Florida pass-catcher has been committed to the Aggies since December, but it seems as if he remains interested in the Buckeyes and a potential in-season visit could pay off in a big way for Brian Hartline.

Quick Hits

  • 2023 four-star defensive lineman Jalen Thompson of Cass Tech (MI) revealed on Twitter that he took a visit to the Buckeyes’ campus on Monday. The Detroit native dropped a top five list earlier this month that included Cincinnati, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, and Pittsburgh as finalists for his pledge.
  • Ohio State is set to welcome 2024 three-star interior offensive lineman Jake Guarnera of Ponte Verda (FL) today, he announced on Twitter. The 6-foot-3, 290-pounder has yet to claim an offer from the Buckeyes, but he has added opportunities from Florida, Florida State, and Penn State, among others.