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Initial 2026 class rankings show Ohio is loaded with in-state targets

Ohio State will look to lock down their borders with how much talent resides within their own backyard.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Brian Hartline is the best receivers coach in the country and it’s not particularly close. Both in on-field development and in his recruiting efforts, you’d be hard-pressed to find an assistant that pulls more weight than he does right now. The success his position group is having over the last several years is more than you can ask for, and it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down considering the elite talent he is bringing in year after year.

Though it’s early, the Buckeyes have already landed the commitment of in-state product, Christ Henry Jr. for their 2026 class, and on Wednesday he received one of the highest honors you can have for his position.

A 6-foot-5, 185-pound athlete, Henry Jr. is the son of the late Chris Henry Sr. and has the lineage that proves he is destined for stardom on the football field. Thanks to 247Sports releasing the rankings for his class, Henry Jr. was named the No. 8 player nationally and the top receiver in the country. Also slotted as the top-ranked player in Ohio for 2026, the Buckeyes clearly are getting an elite talent once again for Hartline’s room, and considering how talented he is already, it’s scary to think how good he will be three years from now when he’s ready to step foot on campus.

At any rate, the beat goes on for the Buckeyes, Hartline, and the receiver position. The ability to land the nation’s best receiver in any given cycle has belonged to Ohio State more times than not, and 2026 is just the next year in line to make that the case.

2026 in-state class is loaded with talent

Keeping in the 2026 class, the 247Sports rankings update not only gave the Buckeyes another No. 1 receiver commit but also proved that this class is going to be one of the deeper classes Ohio has seen for some time now. Home to four of the top 100 players in the country, the staff has always made their home-state recruiting grounds the top priority. In this class, it will only be heightened as several positions of importance regardless of year are available.

Starting on the offensive line, 6-foot-5, 265-pound offensive tackle target Maxwell Riley was listed as the No. 14 player nationally, the third-ranked offensive tackle, and the second-best player in Ohio for 2026. An Avon Lake product, Riley already holds an offer from the Buckeyes, as well as from many other schools including Florida State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State, Tennessee, and more.

The Buckeyes, though early, do hold the lone Crystal Ball prediction, and though there’s plenty of time to go in this recruitment, Ohio State being all over this one early and often bodes well for their chances of keeping him at home for his college career.

Next on the list, another top offensive tackle made the top 100 for 247Sports. 6-foot-8 290-pound Sam Greer already has incredible size for just a high school sophomore, so it’s easy to see why he was listed as the No. 78 player nationally and the 12th-best offensive tackle for his cycle. Also the third-ranked athlete in Ohio, Greer is another in-state native the Buckeyes have already extended an offer to.

With Michigan, Florida, Miami, and Purdue also on his offer list, Greer is due for a domino effect of several other programs to come calling, and the hope here is that position coach Justin Frye locks it down early with both Greer and the aforementioned Riley. If he can, that would be an incredible duo that means two of the nation’s top tackles are staying in-state. A feat that would be more than ideal, it’s a major focus for this staff.

Last but not least, the Buckeyes have one more in-state top-100 target they’ll certainly be paying close attention thanks to quarterback Nathan Bernhard. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Ashland product fits the build of any elite pocket passer, and though Ohio State has yet to offer, Ryan Day does pretty darn well with his recruiting efforts. If the plan in 2025 was to go in-state and 2026 once again presented the same potential, this staff would surely have little to no issue making that happen.

As of right now, Ohio State has offered multiple signal callers in the 2026 class, with Julian Lewis being the most talked about, but Bernhard checks in as the No. 80 player nationally and the eighth-best QB in the country and is right in their backyard. Simply put, it always helps to have the top talent right in Ohio.