What was already expected to be a massive recruiting weekend in Columbus got even larger on Saturday when the Buckeyes earned a pair of stellar commitments out of Cleveland Glenville. The Ohio high school pipeline that produced Ted Ginn Jr., Marshon Lattimore, Donte Whitner, Troy Smith, Cardale Jones and most recently 2023 linebacker Arvell Reese has once again provided Ohio State with some premiere talent at two positions of need.
First up, a move that had felt like a long time coming but was by no means a guarantee, the Buckeyes got a major boost to their defensive secondary with the commitment of cornerback Bryce West.
BREAKING: Four-Star CB Bryce West tells me he has Committed to Ohio State!— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) June 24, 2023
The 6’0 185 CB from Cleveland, OH chose the Buckeyes over Michigan
“As they say, The Best Players In Ohio Stay in Ohio ”https://t.co/w8nG4eQ8JT pic.twitter.com/DNK1FLLhgx
West immediately becomes the highest-rated defensive player in Ohio State’s 2024 class as the No. 4 CB and No. 49 overall player in the country per the 247Sports Composite. The No. 1 player in Ohio in this cycle, it was imperative that the Buckeyes beat out rival Michigan for his pledge, as West was highly considering the Wolverines in addition to schools like Oregon and Georgia also remaining in the mix, albeit less so than the two B1G programs.
Comparing his play to that of Darius Slay, a five-time NFL Pro-Bowl corner, here is what 247Sports’ Allen Trieu has to say of West’s abilities:
“Has a track background and has run as fast as 10.93 in the 100-meter dash and 6.96 in the 60-meter dash. [...] Has played man for his school and also shown he can do that in a camp or workout setting. Shows good ball skills. Will put his nose in the action and lay a hit. [...] Continuing to add polish while building upon his quicks and long speed, which are already good, are keys for his developmental future.”
West was nothing short of a lockdown corner for the Tarblooders as a junior, not allowing a single touchdown in coverage and intercepting four passes for a team that finished 15-0 and won a state title. He was named a Junior All-American by MaxPreps for his efforts. Needless to say, he was an absolute must-have for Ohio State in this cycle, and landing him six months before signing day allows for Tim Walton and Perry Eliano to continue chasing their other top targets at the position in what will likely be a three or four corner class.
As previously mentioned, West is the highest-ranked defensive player in the Buckeyes’ 2024 group thus far and the fourth defensive player overall, joining linebackers Garrett Stover and Payton Pierce as well as safety Jaylen McCLain. As the top in-state player in the cycle, Ohio State now holds commitments from five of the top 12 prospects in Ohio, one of which we will get to in a moment. They will hope to make it six of the top 12 if they can seal the deal with corner Aaron Scott Jr., the No. 2 in-state player in the class.
The other big addition on Saturday came on offense, as Ohio State was able to land its second tight end pledge in 2024 with the commitment of Damarion Witten.
BREAKING: Four-Star TE Damarion Witten tells me he has Committed to Ohio State!— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) June 25, 2023
The 6’4 215 TE from Cleveland, OH chose the Buckeyes over Oregon, Kentucky, & others
“Buckeye Nation I’m HOME ! But we not done We coming to get the rest #GoBucks ”https://t.co/Lc8QVo0N1c pic.twitter.com/Pe7Wr1Cic2
The 6-foot-4 Glenville product currently ranks as the No. 19 TE in the country and the No. 11 player in Ohio per the 247Sports Composite. He joins Max LeBlanc as the Buckeyes finally are able to put together a two tight end class — something Ohio State has not done since 2016, when they landed three tight ends. If both LeBlanc and Witten do end up officially signing with OSU, it will be the fifth time since 1996 the program has scored multiple tight ends in a single recruiting class.
Witten is a big get for new position coach Keenan Bailey as the top in-state target at the position. Former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was actually the one who offered Witten back in September, but Bailey made sure to keep the Cleveland native in high regard. Ultimately he was able to get the job done, beating out schools among the likes of Kentucky, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas and others for his services.
With Witten and West now in the fold, Ohio State has passed over Michigan for the No. 2 class in the country, even despite holding only 16 commitments to the Wolverines’ 23. The Buckeyes’ player average of 93.31 is nearly three points higher than TTUN’s (90.63), and is only 0.12 behind No. 1 Georgia’s (93.43). Off to a fantastic start, there is still a long way to go for Ryan Day and his staff as they look for their first defensive line commitment of the cycle as well as further additions in other key areas.
- Witten and West weren’t the only high-profile names on campus this past weekend. Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa and Justin Scott, a pair of top-100 defenders, were also in Columbus on their official visits, and appear to have enjoyed what they saw during their trip. Scott, a five-star, is the No. 3 DL and No. 14 overall player in the 2024 class, while Viliamu-Asa is the No. 7 LB in the country, all per the 247Sports Composite.
- Of course, the other name to keep a close eye on from this past weekend was none other than Aaron Scott Jr., whom the Buckeyes would love to pair with West as the two top players in the state in this cycle. Ohio State continues to battle it out with Michigan for the nation’s No. 5 CB and No. 53 overall prospect, but seem to have the inside track as things currently stand with all three Crystal Ball predictions in favor of OSU.