With just a day until the Cotton Bowl matchup against Missouri, the Ohio State coaching staff’s priority has obviously been game preparation, so recruiting has taken a bit of a back seat over the past week. Despite bowl prep, the staff has plenty else to monitor as they are still awaiting the decisions of several players as to whether or not they will be back next season. Due to this, the team’s roster management piece is still a bit up in the air; however, as soon as the bowl game is completed, the Buckeyes should know much more about their needs.
While recruiting news has slowed down, there are still pieces of information that can hint at where things are trending for the Buckeyes as they move forward.
Portal target staying home
While the transfer portal hasn’t been the main area of Ohio State’s recruiting attention, the Buckeyes have still been fairly active on that front over the past couple of weeks. Hosting multiple guys, Ryan Day and company are showing that they also see the areas where many fans believe that players need to be added. On the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State clearly wants to bring in at least one experienced guy for the 2024 roster and maybe more when they know what all of their current players are planning to do.
One target that has been on campus this month, Michigan State defensive tackle Derrick Harmon was a potential candidate for the Buckeyes at a position of importance, but yesterday Harmon took to social media to share that he was removing his name from the portal and sticking with the Spartans.
A 6-foot-5, 320-pound athlete, Harmon is one of the better defenders the Spartans had last year. Visiting the Buckeyes, Derrick was also on-site at both Auburn and Oregon in the past few weeks, but something has happened to make his decision to stay at home.
The No. 64 player in the portal and the top defensive tackle, Harmon’s decision to return to East Lansing may simply be because he thinks that is best for him as a player, but from Ohio State’s perspective, it does make you wonder if the Buckeyes have an idea about where their current players in that position group are leaning. Sure, Harmon could just be impressed with the new staff at Michigan State, but you would think that Ohio State would have been in the mix a little more if they really wanted to add him to the fold. Mike Hall Jr. and Tyleik Williams could be back and the staff will know soon, but this option is now off the board whether it has anything to do with Ohio State’s future or not. The current expectation is that Hall will head to the NFL in 2024, but Williams is more likely to return.
2025 defensive target set to announce
Stop if you’ve heard this before, but Ohio State is once again in the mix for a top defensive line target from the Chicago area. Having some ups and downs in the Windy City over the last few cycles, Buckeye fans have to be a little uneasy. Losing commitments of guys after months of being a part of Ohio State’s class and being the favorite for other players who decided to go elsewhere, it hasn’t been really successful for the OSU staff in the Chicagoland area lately.
In the 2025 class, the Buckeyes are trying their luck again with four-star Christopher Burgess Jr. The No. 147 player nationally and 18th best defensive lineman in the 2025 class per the 247Sports Composite grades, Burgess Jr. is set to announce his commitment next week on Jan. 6. Down to Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, the Buckeyes have been a player in this recruitment for some time now, but it remains to be seen what he will ultimately decide.
Without a crystal ball prediction submitted, Burgess Jr. has kept his recruitment fairly close to the vest, but just days before his announcement, Ohio State would love to win out. To get an idea of where he’s leaning, Christopher spoke with 247Sports and shed light on the schools coming at him the hardest down the stretch. Regardless of what he decides a week from Saturday, there’s a long time until he puts pen to paper, and — as we’ve seen more in recent years — commitments can change in a blink.
Chicago Simeon Top247 2025 DE Christopher Burgess Jr. is set to announce on Jan. 6 during NBC’s live broadcast of @AABonNBC. He talks about his finalists of #Alabama #Michigan #NotreDame and #OhioState here: https://t.co/K8pXq9GMyF pic.twitter.com/NGPsoFEYvt— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) December 28, 2023
One of the benefits of playing in Texas on Friday, the Buckeyes were able to have 2024 running back signee James Peoples come to check out practice at AT&T Stadium.
As Peoples will enroll at OSU next month, this opportunity comes with the chance to see firsthand the position group he will soon be working with, and to see what a full-on practice looks like. Not the first time the Buckeyes have had their commits or signees able to see them in bowl game preparation, but it’s still a great perk of being close to the game itself.