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2023 LB target announces final three, Buckeyes look to be the favorite for five-star DE

Ohio State is trying to fend off other top suitors in pursuit of a top 2023 linebacker.

Four-star linebacker, Troy Bowles

It was a busy day in terms of recruiting happenings, mainly on the defensive side of the ball for Ohio State. With this month being an opportunity to see multiple Buckeye targets set to announce their commitments, the staff is hoping their hard work in June continues to pay off in major ways.

Without further hesitation, let’s jump into Wednesday’s headlines.

Bowles announces final three schools

Prior to the arrival of Jim Knowles to Ohio State, the Buckeyes and their linebacker recruiting looked a little bit different. Not that it’s drastically different right now, but the top target on Ohio State’s board was Tampa, Florida native Troy Bowles. The Jesuit product had been on the staff’s radar for some time, and when he made multiple visits in 2021, it looked as if the Buckeyes too were the top school on his mind as well.

It’s been more of the Tackett Curtis show under Knowles, as he has made it abundantly clear how high he is on the Louisiana native, but that doesn’t mean Ohio State was out on Bowles by any means. In fact, though Curtis slid into the top spot on the leader board for the Buckeyes, Bowles and the staff have kept in contact and were able to get him back to campus for his official visit the last weekend in June, which was the biggest recruiting weekend of the year so far for Ohio State.

While the Buckeyes continue to chase both of those top 2023 linebackers, on Wednesday Bowles at least let the staff know they are still fully in the mix when he released the latest update in his recruitment. Down to three final programs, Bowles listed Georgia, Oklahoma, and Ohio State as the remaining schools he will choose between when he makes his commitment public in just over a week on July 16.

Currently, it looks as if Georgia is the betting favorite in his recruitment, with every 247Sports Crystal Ball prediction in favor of the Bulldogs. For some time it has seemed that Georgia owns most of the momentum. Regardless, Ohio State was fortunate enough to have him on their campus last, and the staff has a comfortable relationship with the Bowles family as they know what Ryan Day and crew can do for their son both on and off the field. It’s not over yet, and the Buckeyes will do all they can to prove why they’re the best option these last few days.

The No. 44 player nationally, Bowles is also ranked as the second best linebacker in the country and the 11th best player in Florida for the 2023 class all per the 247Sports Composite.

Buckeyes the favorite for Uiagalelei?

Ohio State’s defensive line recruiting really hasn’t taken off yet, and that’s not cause for concern — at least right now. The last few cycles position coach Larry Johnson has seen the bulk of his recruiting success come later in the game, and the 2023 class may just fit that bill once again. Maybe it’s not ideal, but the Buckeyes still have plenty to be excited for when it comes to landing top-tier defensive line talents.

With only one player at the position currently committed thanks to Will Smith Jr., Ohio State has several guys they’re still in on and await decisions from. Some names that are very real possibilities for the Buckeyes include John Walker, Jason Moore, Desmond Umeozulu, and Matayo Uiagalelei. Any of those would be incredible additions, but knowing they’re all legitimate options is even sweeter.

In this regard, Uiagalelei is the topic of discussion, as yesterday, Chad Simmons of 0n3 Sports reported that he believes Ohio State is the leader for the five-star defensive end out of the prep power St. John Bosco in Southern California, thanks of course to Johnson.

After what seemed to be a great visit in mid-June for Matayo, both he and his father came away overly impressed with what they saw out of the Buckeyes and what they have to offer. So impressed in fact that Matayo was quoted in the On3 Sports report saying, “You can see how many guys he has put in the league. And it makes me think, I might want to go there if I see that,” in regards to Johnson and his incredible development of his players.

The No. 21 player nationally, Matayo is also the second-ranked edge rusher and the third-best player in California for the 2023 class per the 247Sports Composite. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but at least right now, you have to like where the Buckeyes sit for one of the top players in the country.

Quick Hits

Yesterday, Ohio State got one step closer to landing Moore when he announced that he would be committing to the school of his choice this coming Sunday at 7pm. With four Crystal Ball predictions in favor of the Buckeyes coming this week alone, it’s a safe bet that the defensive line will really start to get underway this weekend.

  • Recent 2023 commit, Calvin Simpson-Hunt, was selected to play in the 2023 Polynesian Bowl. An all-star event, Simpson-Hunt joins the likes of other Buckeyes who have also played in this contest that features some of the top prep players in the nation. Further proof that the staff landed a great talent with their latest addition.