Early Signing Day primer: What you need to know about Ohio State's 2023 class
Note: All star ratings and all rankings are based on 247Sports and its composite rankings as of Monday morning, Dec. 19, unless otherwise indicated.
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As Ohio State puts the finishing touches on its College Football Playoff preparation, the Buckeyes are also finishing the recruiting preparation for another CFP-caliber group. Ohio State enters the Early Signing Period with a class ranked 7th in the nation and tops in the B1G (Penn State at 12th is sitting in 2nd place on that list). Despite some last minute changes, it’s a top-flight group that should help keep the Buckeyes located at or near the top of the CFP pile.
By the numbers
Overall rank: 7th
B1G rank: 1st
Highest-rated player: WR Brandon Inniss, 5-star
Inniss, a 6-0, 190-pound receiver from Florida, is ranked as the 29th best player in the nation and the 4th best receiver. At the moment, he’s the program’s lone 5-star signee. Inniss visited Ohio State in June and committed a few days later. He did make an unofficial visit to Miami in November, but since then visited Ohio State for the Michigan game.
Inniss doesn’t have any particular attribute that is astonishing. He’s not a physical, outside type. He’s also not blindingly fast. But he’s praised for his route-running, his competitiveness, and his combination of skills. In many ways, Inniss sounds like an ideal replacement for NFL bound Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who similarly made his mark with his all-around work.
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Did they bolster the QB room?
Yes, and it took some doing.
Brock Glenn, a 3-star from Memphis, had been committed to Ohio State since July, but flipped to Florida State in November. Given the forthcoming loss of CJ Stroud and the impact of the transfer portal, Ohio State did not want to be shut out at the QB position.
Enter 4-star South Dakota passer Lincoln Kienholz, who was committed to Washington. Ryan Day and the Buckeyes flipped Kienholz earlier this month. A 6-foot-3 dual threat passer, Kienholz is the 205th-ranked player in the nation, and the 14th QB. Having played in South Dakota, Kienholz will likely need some time to adjust to the speed of the collegiate game, but he is a very high-upside prospect who could be outstanding in Ohio State’s offense.
Pending potential QB losses in the portal, Ohio State may well look to add a plug-and-play guy before all is said and done. Keeping Kyle McCord and Devin Brown will be key, and if Kienholz is ahead of the developmental curve, that might also change things.
Best position group: Wide receivers
Three of OSU’s top 4 signees are wide receivers, so that was clearly an area of priority. Inniss was discussed above, but recent wide receiver classes have demonstrated that sometimes the 4-star guys are as good or better than their more highly-ranked peers.
North Carolina product Noah Rogers was the 45th-best player in the nation, and is OSU’s second highest rated signee. Assuming the Buckeyes can keep him, the 6-foot-2 Rogers is an outstanding big-play edge receiver, and could well be the successor to the Marvin Harrison role for OSU. IMG Academy’s Carnell Tate is another immediate impact possibility. Tate was the 61st-ranked player in the country, and his all-around game has impressed many. At 6-2, Tate is big enough to play outside, but his excellent hands and ball skills could make him a contributor inside. Florida prep standout Bryson Rodgers could also surprise.
Biggest need filled: Offensive line
OSU will lose 3 OL starters, and a new influx of depth is needed. The good news is that the Buckeyes took fliers on several outstanding offensive line prospects. A couple of these players could see early time, but with offensive linemen, a year of B1G strength and conditioning is pivotal, so the impact could be longer-term with some players.
In-state product Luke Montgomery was the highest rated player in Ohio (52nd overall), and he’s likely to be one of the quicker impact guys. In-state 4-stars Joshua Padilla and Austin Siereveld might compete for early time. Connecticut 3-star tackle Miles Walker feels more like a long-term guy, but given his 6-6, 285-pound build, he could be the sleeper of this class.
Biggest potential flip: Kayin Lee, DB, 4-star
Lee is a Georgia defensive back who is ranked as the 209th-best player in the class. Lee is a June Buckeyes commit, but he’s been open about his great relationship with Auburn assistant Zac Etheridge. Lee visited Auburn recently, and made the sort of starry-eyed comments that have folks around the OSU program on flip alert.
Lee might not be the biggest name guy in this Ohio State class, but he feels like the one who is perhaps most likely to not end up in Columbus. He’d be a big grab for Hugh Freeze at Auburn, while he’s currently the 4th-ranked DB in Ohio State’s class. This one bears watching all the way until the ink dries on the letter of intent.
Final takeaways on this class
Ohio State is still swimming for some big fish and could well add a couple of surprising names in the old-fashioned regular Signing Period. But even if they don’t, this is a very solid class that adds numerous potentially significant receivers and linemen. The quarterback situation is a slow burner, and with the late swap from Glenn to Kienholz, it’ll be interesting to see how OSU’s QB situation comes out of the spring.
Of course, the shadow of transfer portal movement looms. Making the CFP won’t exempt the Buckeyes, but it means those particular dominos haven’t really started tumbling just yet. Ryan Day and his staff continue to do a good job of recruiting nationally, but also addressing needs locally. Ohio State nabbed 7 of the top 8 players from Ohio, which wasn’t always the case before Day’s time.
In a brave new world of recruiting, Ohio State seems to be keeping its head down and trying to wrap up the top high school players while using the transfer portal sparingly to fill specific needs. There’s no reason to see this class as a departure from the high standards and good work that’s gone on in OSU recruiting.