Ohio State football: 5 things to know about the 2023 recruiting class after signing day

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Credit: Jay LaPrete

COLUMBUS — There were some twists and turns along the path to the beginning of the early signing period for college football recruits, but ultimately Ohio State finished the first day with the nation’s No. 5-ranked class.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day acknowledged recruiting produces new challenges each year but said he came away happy with the results again.

Here are five things to know about the class:

1. Day felt the 20-man class mostly filled his program’s needs.

“We could probably use one more defensive lineman in there along the way,” Day said. “I thought it was great to get Jelani Thurman as a really talented tight end. As we start to get into multiple tight ends use like we did this year it was great to get him. So I think we’ve addressed a good portion of our needs. I don’t think we’re all the way there yet, but this is going to be a long process all the way through until we play next year.”

2. He is excited about the receivers.

The top-rated player in the class is five-star receiver Brandon Inniss of American Heritage High School in Florida, and fellow receiver Noah Rogers of Rolesville, N.C., is No. 2. Carnell Tate of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., gives Ohio State three of the top 10 receiver prospects in the country while Bryson Rodgers of Zephyrhills, Fla., is no slouch as a four-star prospect ranked No. 235 overall regardless of position.

“I think all four of these guys are going to be really good players for us. And all four of them are looking to come in and make an impact.”

3. They may decide they don’t need a running back this cycle.

Mark Fletcher, a four-star prospect from Florida, left Ohio State’s class in mid-November and ultimately signed with Miami (Fla.).

He was not replaced before signing day, and he might not be at all with Ohio State expecting to have TreVeyon Henderson, Miyan Williams, Evan Pryor and Dallan Hayden in coach Tony Alford’s room next season if all return and are healthy.

Chip Trayanum, who transferred to Ohio State a year ago to play linebacker but moved to running back midway through the season because of a lack of numbers, may stay on offense permanently, or he might return to defense. That could be the determining factor in recruiting another high school runner, looking for a college transfer or standing pat.

4. Quarterback recruiting dynamics changed between summer and signing day.

Although Day said he intends to sign a starter-quality quarterback every year, getting a commitment from 2024 prospect Dylan Raiola in May complicated things for 2023.

Ohio State lost a commit from Brock Glenn of Tennessee but replaced him with Lincoln Kienholz of South Dakota, a move that paid off when Raiola de-committed earlier this week.

“Something we always look at is when is the right time to go on quarterbacks? Is it early in the process? Is it late?” said Day, who added Devin Brown of Arizona late last year and C.J. Stroud late in the class of 2020. There’s certainly some great positives to jumping on somebody early, and you identify who that person is early on, but when you get on somebody late like Lincoln, you got to recognize what they did their senior year, same thing with C.J., same thing with Devin.

“Everybody has their own journey, but it’s something that we always look at and try to evaluate what gives us the best chance of choosing the best guy for Ohio State and allowing them to choose Ohio State on their own.”

5. They see defensive tackle Will Smith Jr. as more than a legacy recruit.

The son of Ohio State All-American defensive end Will Smith Sr. was not considered a blue chip prospect when the Buckeyes offered him a scholarship last winter, but he was rated a four-star and the No. 154 player in the nation by 247Sports by signing day.

“I guess it was a little bit of a risk early on because we didn’t we didn’t quite know for sure, but he and his mom, quite honestly, they asked, ‘Is he really good enough to be a Buckeye?’ And we said, ‘If he does these things, we absolutely think he is.’”

The younger Smith, whose father was killed in a road rage incident in New Orleans in 2016, turned in a standout season for Dublin Coffman in the Columbus suburbs to remove any doubt where he belongs.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Day said. “The way that he played this season, as we talked to anybody who watched him play, they said he played hard, he played physical with his hair on fire and just had a lot of production. He’s coming in early, and we think he has a chance to be a very good player for us.”

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