Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. Sunday’s notebook breaks down the key visitors from the Cincinnati game, including top in-state linebacker prospect Reid Carrico.
Reid Carrico enjoys Ohio State defensive effort
The Buckeyes are off to a great start in their 2021 recruiting class, especially in the state of Ohio. Ohio State has commitments from three of the state’s top five prospects, and on Saturday it welcomed in another of the region’s best players when Ironton junior Reid Carrico made his way north to Columbus.
“It went well,” Carrico told Lettermen Row. “The atmosphere was awesome.”
Carrico, ranked as the country’s best overall inside linebacker prospect in the Class of 2021 by 247Sports.com, had never been to an Ohio State game. The energy he saw in the crowd and on the field will be the lasting impression.
“It definitely lived up to the expectations,” he said. “I saw a relentless effort from the Buckeyes defense. I think I’d fit in great in what they do. The great pass rush and everyone flying to the football.”
A future Buckeyes pass-rusher, 5-star 2021 commitment Jack Sawyer, spent most of his visit with Carrico on Saturday. The two hit it off well as Carrico continues to be a top target for Sawyer on his own personal recruiting list.
“I mostly hung out with Jack,” Carrico said. “We hung out all day. He seems to be the same type of guy as I am.”
Buckeyes impress 2022 star C.J. Hicks
Another top linebacker prospect inside of the state of Ohio was in the Horseshoe on Saturday.
“The visit was amazing,” Dayton Archbishop Alter 2022 prospect C.J. Hicks told Lettermen Row. “I had a great time. It was crazy how much the fans were into the game. In high school and the NFL, most of the time people don’t pay attention, they’re there to drink and be social.
“At the game on Saturday, the whole stadium seemed to be into the game.”
Hicks is currently a top-25 prospect in the sophomore class, and though he is still waiting for an Ohio State offer, he was told the wait is going to be worth it and was taken back by the fact that Buckeyes coach Ryan Day knew who he was already.
“The coaches all told me my offer is coming, I need to just keep up the good work and we’ll be in touch about it,” Hicks said. “It’s a blessing, really. [Co-offensive coordinator Kevin] Wilson said to Ryan Day, ‘This is C.J. Hicks.’ And Day said ‘I already know who this guy is.'”
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Hicks also spent time with Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, who he was around before and after the Buckeyes 42-0 win over Cincinnati.
“I talked to Coach Hafley before and after the game,” Hicks said.
Whether it happens this season or not, expect the Buckeyes to get all the way into the C.J. Hicks recruitment soon.
Ohio State coaches watching Stephan Byrd closely
Staying in the Class of 2022 and inside of Ohio, Ohio State brought in Canal-Winchester tailback Stephan Byrd for his first visit to campus as a recruit. Byrd caught the attention of the Buckeyes coaching staff during a one-day camp in June and has been a player they’ve monitored closely since.
“It was really good,” Byrd told Lettermen Row. “Ohio State killed it. I talked to [running backs coach] Tony Alford, [staff member] Ed Terwilliger and a few assistant coaches. They told me to keep working hard and to keep looking great on the field.”
Byrd, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound tailback, is just getting his feet wet when it comes to the recruiting world and the landscape of it. He found the atmosphere at Ohio State and the plethora of big-time players surrounding him there to be a bit humbling.
“I just feel like one of them,” he said. “Honestly it kind of brings me back down to earth, because I’m a little cocky sometimes. Just being there, everyone there is just as good as me. So, I have a point to prove and have to earn respect. It’s not just given so I’m going to have to work hard for it.”
Keep an eye on Byrd over the next few years.
Seven Ohio State commits among visitors for Cincinnati game
The Buckeyes aren’t planning to make any of their September home games major recruiting weekends. But Saturday’s contest against Cincinnati turned out a pretty good group of recruits nonetheless — especially among the current crop of Ohio State commitments.
Five of the six 2020 offensive line commits for the Buckeyes made their way to Columbus, with only Norwalk 3-star lineman Trey Leroux absent. It was something to watch Paris Johnson, Luke Wypler, Josh Fryar, Grant Toutant and Jakob James hang out and grow their bond, one that is very important for the future at Ohio State.
“That was so awesome,” Wypler, who arrived Friday morning with his father, told Lettermen Row. “It was my first time meeting most of the guys, so it was nice being able to hang out and talk about the future and the great times ahead.”
With the Bearcats in town, Ohio State had all of its Cincinnati-based verbals on campus with Joe Royer, Darrion Henry and Jake Seibert joining Johnson and James.
Perhaps the biggest story of the weekend, visitor-wise, was the decision made by Jaxon Smith-Njigba and his family to send the Buckeyes commit to campus this weekend for an unofficial visit. Smith-Njigba has been working hard to focus on his senior season and not the rumors about the Texas Longhorns, and the decision to head to Ohio this weekend rather than to Austin where one of the season’s best games was being played between LSU and Texas was very important for the Buckeyes.
Another Texas receiver, 2021 prospect and Ohio State legacy Drew Donley, made the trip to Columbus this weekend. He continues to be an intriguing potential option for the Buckeyes down the road. Indianapolis 2021 standout Daylan Carnell visited the Buckeyes as well, and he’s a player to watch for a possible offer in the near future.
The Buckeyes did host Cincinnati Princeton defender and University of Cincinnati commit Jaheim Thomas on Saturday as well. This was not much more than a goodwill gesture between Ohio State and the Bearcats. The Buckeyes are set at linebacker and Thomas is very content in his verbal to Cincinnati.
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