The Ohio State Buckeyes received a verbal commitment from five-star wide receiver Mylan Graham on Tuesday, proving once again that Brian Hartline is on another level when it comes to recruiting. OSU’s new offensive coordinator beat everyone to the punch with this talented Indiana wideout, extending Graham his first D1 offer back in June of last year. Graham now joins fellow five-star WR Jeremiah Smith in what could ultimately become a special 2024 class.
Graham’s commitment was Ohio State’s fourth since March 27 alone, giving the program strong momentum as they approach an otherwise slow part of the year. There is likely to be additional BOOM activity over the summer, but little in the way of organized team activity... The dog days of summer, indeed. Especially for us college football fans.
Regardless, Graham joining Devontae Armstrong, Deonte Armstrong and James Peoples as recent Scarlet and Gray pledges means the Buckeyes’ next recruiting class is coming together quite nicely — and that might be underselling it. However, there does seem to be an elephant in the room, which some OSU fans are choosing to ignore.
Me bringing up something to be pessimistic about? Never! But let’s acknowledge the situation here.
Of the eight players currently committed to Ohio State’s 2024 class, seven play either exclusively or primarily on the offensive side of the ball. The program’s lone defensive commit, Garrett Stover, has played both ways, but is being recruited as a linebacker or safety. Sounds like a different Stover... who just so happens to be Garrett’s cousin... and played both ways in high school... and was recruited by the Buckeyes as a linebacker. Guess how that turned out.
OSU does appear to be in good standing with a number of defenders, including in-state cornerbacks Bryce West and Aaron Scott, as well as national targets Dylan Stewart and Justin Scott, among others. But none of those players have pulled the trigger on a pledge to the Scarlet and Gray, leaving Ryan Day and his staff with little to hang their hat on in terms of future defensive additions.
Admittedly, it is very early in the process for 2024 recruits, but this slow burn – combined with multiple swings and misses last cycle – has to be at least a teeny, tiny bit concerning... Right?
The fact of the matter is, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles landed one commitment in the 2023 class. And Tony Alford, an offensive coach, helped with that player’s (Arvell Reese) recruitment. Tim Walton and Perry Eliano fared better on the recruiting trail but have yet to prove they can elevate Ohio State’s secondary on the field.
As for Larry Johnson, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He took enormous swings attempting to land an elite prospect or two in the ‘23 class and missed. But the Buckeyes still have guys like J.T. Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Mike Hall Jr., Caden Curry, and Kenyatta Jackson because of him.
So is OSU behind the 8-ball when it comes to defensive recruiting? Or are their offensive coaches and recruiters just that far ahead?
I am going to cautiously lean toward the latter. Because it is April of 2023, and these players will not sign their official letter of intent until next year! Many will change their mind(s) a dozen times between now and then anyway. That is just indicative of the world in which these college coaches and programs currently live. Verbal commitments don’t mean a whole hell of a lot right now, especially with all the jockeying and flipping certain to occur before National Signing Day.
Now, would it be nice to have a few explosive edge rushers or sticky corners already in the fold for 2024? Sure. But most programs have barely even started building their future classes. Texas currently has two total commitments. Alabama has four, only one of which is from a defender. Oregon and Florida each have five, Clemson and Tennessee six... You see where I’m going with this. It. Is. Early.
Besides, there are plenty of other Ohio State football-related issues to worry about. Such as: QB play, inexperience along the offensive line, and/or the Buckeyes’ sieve-like secondary. So let’s all practice some patience, enjoy the upcoming Spring Game, and just wait for more Mark Pantoni BOOM tweets. They’re comin’, hopefully from a bunch of future Silver Bullets.