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Ohio State recruiting: Who are names to know inside of Buckeye State?

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Jayden Ballard (left) is just scraping the edges of his ability. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State recruiting: Who are names to know inside of Buckeye State?

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today we’re turning the focus inward and going over the best prospects in the state of Ohio in the Classes of 2020 and 2021.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

Since taking over the reins of the Ohio State football program in December, Ryan Day has received commitments from four different in-state football players: Tommy Eichenberg, Zach Harrison, Jack Sawyer and Jakob James. The new coaching staff has indeed made the state of Ohio a focus in their early recruiting efforts, and it’s paid off with those future Buckeyes spread across three recruiting cycles.

The Class of 2019 is complete, and now Ohio State turns its focus entirely to the classes of 2020 and 2021. It appears Day and his staff want to ensure that Ohio-born prospects are the cornerstones of the future. Paris Johnson (2020) and Jack Sawyer (2021) are the state’s top prospects in their respective classes — and both are already committed to the Buckeyes. That pair may lead the way, but there are many good prospects in the state that will become familiar names over the next two years, some of which are already known.

These are some of the key players to watch in the next two recruiting classes from inside of Ohio.

Players already offered by Ohio State

Over the last few years, a handful of Ohio’s best players waited a considerable period of time before landing an offer from Ohio State. Day’s efforts in the state have changed that a bit. Here are the early, uncommitted offers in the state.

  • Darrion Henry • Cincinnati Princeton • Defensive Line • No. 2-ranked player in 2020
    • Henry is the top in-state priority now that Johnson and Sawyer are committed, and the Ohio State staff is not taking his recruitment for granted at all. He’s a 6-foot-5, 260-pound game-changer.
  • DeaMonte Trayanum • Akron Archbishop Hoban • Running Back/Linebacker • No. 3-ranked player in 2020
    • Ohio State would love to add Trayanum at either tailback or linebacker, but it seems he’d prefer to play offense. He’s a major target for the Buckeyes.
  • Michael Drennen • Dublin Coffman • Running Back/Slot Receiver • No. 5-ranked player in 2020
    • A player in the mold of Jaelen Gill, Drennen is a talented athlete whose true position remains unclear. But there’s no doubt he’s the type of prospect teams have to get the ball to.
  • Jutahn McClain • Fairfield • Running Back • No. 6-ranked player in 2020
    • The country’s sixth-ranked running back has an offer from Ohio State and 14 other schools. Fairfield has proven a bit tricky for the Buckeyes after losing Jackson Carman there and passing on tight end Erick All, who ended up at Michigan.
  • Jayden Ballard • Massillon Washington • Wide Receiver • No. 3-ranked player in 2021
    • Ballard could be Ohio’s top receiver prospect regardless of class and was offered by Ohio State before his sophomore season. He’s developing his body — up to 6-foot-2 and almost 170-pounds now — and will continue to improve under one of the state’s best high school coaches, Nate Moore.
  • Lorenzo Styles Jr • Pickerington Central • Wide Receiver • Unranked in Class of 2021
    • Though he’s unranked, this Buckeyes legacy has an offer and the attention of the coaching staff. Michigan and Notre Dame are going to fight for him until they can’t as well. This recruitment will be fun to watch for the next two years.
  • Ben Christman • Richfield Revere • Offensive Tackle • Unranked in Class of 2021
    • The most recent offer on this list is the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Christman, a player who could work himself into a lofty national ranking before the summer is over. He is the state’s top offensive line prospect in his class.
  • Najee Story • Solon • Defensive End • Unranked in Class of 2021
    • A fast-riser from Northeast Ohio, Story is a freakish athlete who could turn into one of the country’s premier pass-rushing defensive end prospects as he gets noticed on the national stage. An early offer from the Buckeyes and their rivals in Ann Arbor will kickstart that publicity bus.

Which players could Ohio State still offer?

  • Jaheim Thomas • Cincinnati Princeton • Linebacker • No. 7-ranked player in 2020
    • Thomas is a major prospect, but questions about his ultimate position keep Ohio State from pulling the trigger here. He’s already 6-foot-4 and could get to 6-foot-6 — but he wants to be a linebacker. How he continues to grow is the question here.
  • Sam Rengert • Milford Center Fairbanks • Offensive Tackle • No. 11-ranked player in 2020
    • I think Rengert is a really good player who could get a second, closer look by Ohio State as spring turns to summer, especially if the Buckeyes feel themselves falling off with guys like Kansas lineman Turner Corcoran.
  • Sammy Anderson • Trotwood Madison • Cornerback • No. 20-ranked player in 2020
    • The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Anderson could be Ohio’s best cornerback prospect and has the long arms and length that the Buckeyes desire at the position.
  • Bangally Kamara • Akron East • Linebacker/Safety • No. 24-ranked player in 2020
    • Kamara has an offer from Michigan and, like a number of guys on this list, remains hopeful for one from Ohio State. The problem is that the Buckeyes haven’t run Michigan’s defensive schemes, which meant a “tweener” like Kamara needs to be a linebacker or a safety — and he needs to figure that out.
  • Rickey Hyatt • Westerville Central • Safety • No. 25-ranked player in 2020
    • There are few guys gaining more recruiting steam right now than the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Hyatt after he ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash at this past weekend’s Best of the Midwest Combine in Indianapolis. He could be this summer’s “Darron Lee” type of player.
  • AJ Kirk • Dublin Coffman • Safety • No. 2-ranked player in 2021
    • The younger brother of former Buckeyes All-American Mike Doss has all the big offers in the Midwest except for the one from Ohio State. The Ohio State coaching staff is waiting on something — I just don’t know what yet.
  • Jaylen Anderson • Perry • Running Back • No. 4-ranked player in 2021
    • One of the best young running backs in Ohio regardless of class, Anderson will need to get himself to Ohio State for a camp and show that he’s fully recovered from a knee injury that slowed him his sophomore season before the Buckeyes — or anyone else — will offer.

There are more really good players in Ohio, too, but it’s impossible to list them all. Ohio State will want a tight end or two in 2020, and the state has a few good ones like Cleveland’s Sam Daugstrup and Mansfield’s Clay Caudill. Cincinnati Winton Woods running back Miyan Williams is a super explosive athlete, and Akron’s Ethan Wright spent a good Saturday with the Buckeyes coaching staff two weeks ago. If Ohio State decides for a second 2020 quarterback, Cincinnati Wyoming’s Evan Prater is a good one — and so is Pickerington Central’s Demeatric Crenshaw.

And there are still plenty of others. It’s a good time for the Buckeyes to rededicate themselves to recruiting inside of their talented home state.

The best way to stay on top of all that recruiting #stuff? Subscribe to Lettermen Row’s Recruiting with Birm newsletter. 


Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.