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Ohio State offer thrills freshman QB, Kentucky star evaluates visit

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Ohio State became the latest major college program to offer 2023 prospect Malachi Nelson. (Malachi Nelson/Twitter)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Ohio State offer thrills freshman QB, Kentucky star evaluates visit

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. Wednesday’s notebook updates the recruitment of Malachi Nelson, who could the country’s top freshman quarterback, and catches up with a 2022 signal-caller with an Ohio State offer.

Malachi Nelson earns Ohio State offer

A wild freshman season is almost over for quarterback Malachi Nelson.

The Los Alamitos (Calif.) standout, 6-foot-3 and 180-pounds, has gone from being a typical freshman to a prototypical quarterback prospect in the blink of an eye. Alabama, LSU, Oregon, Georgia, Auburn and now Ohio State have already thrown hats into the ring to try to lure the country’s fastest-rising young signal-caller from the California sunshine.

“It’s seriously mindblowing that all this is happening,” Nelson told Lettermen Row. “The first school [to offer] was Auburn, then Oregon, Georgia, LSU, Alabama and Ohio State in that order.”

The offer from the Buckeyes came by way of Ryan Day and Mike Yurcich. The scouting report on Nelson shows a good athlete who is comfortable in the pocket and out of it, but he has the potential to be a devastating weapon in the passing game as he grows into his frame.

“They’ve talked with my coaches and done their homework and watched enough film to see potential worth investing in,” Nelson said. “I work hard, stay out of trouble and am focused on being the best quarterback in the nation.”

Nelson is “hoping and planning” to make his first visit for an Ohio State game next Saturday when it takes on Penn State — a trip that could also include 2022 5-star quarterback Maalik Murphy. But even if he doesn’t, Nelson is familiar with the Ohio State program, is a big fan of what’s happening in Columbus and believes he has the mental makeup to leave the West Coast for college if the fit is correct.

“I spent some time out there last year as an 8th grade All-American and loved the area,” he said. “The stadium, the crowds, the stage, the history, just nothing but respect for the program. It’s huge and unbelievable.

“I’m still getting over the idea that there’s a real possibility I’ll be playing college football, but I’m open for anything. I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family.”

Ohio State is long-time favorite for rising Kentucky standout

We’re sticking with the youngsters in today’s edition of Dotting the ‘Eyes and going back a few days to last Saturday when unranked 2022 linebacker Caden Johnson made his first visit to Ohio State as a recruit.

He’s pretty familiar with Ohio in general, though.

“A bunch of my family is from Cincinnati and as a kid, my dad grew up there and he loved them,” Johnson, who plays linebacker at Lexington (Ky.) Frederick Douglass told Lettermen Row. “So, I took on the role, too. The Buckeyes have been my favorite team since I was seven.”

Because of that, the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Johnson has made it a point to get Ohio State’s attention. He has been trying to put himself in view since the start of his sophomore season.

“I kept sending them film after each game,” Johnson said when asked how the contact began with the Buckeyes, which led to his visit. “It was the best experience. I liked the atmosphere and I really felt like I belonged there. Ohio State has great facilities and an amazing family atmosphere.

“After the game, Tim Hinton told me to take down his number and send him my film, so I did that, too.”

An explosive athlete, Johnson has been timed at 4.6-seconds in the 40-yard-dash and has already recorded a 36-inch vertical leap, both impressive numbers for a sophomore in high school. His recruitment is set to turn up a notch in the next few months as he gets on the road and introduces himself across the Midwest.

“A lot of schools have said there could be an offer this offseason,” he said. “I’ve been hearing a lot from Miami (Ohio), Cincinnati, Louisville, Kentucky, Marshall, Ball State and Tennessee.”

Expect to see him show up on campus again at Ohio State in the spring and summer as he tries to earn an offer from his favorite program as well.

Steve Angeli hopes to get back to see Buckeyes

Ohio State offered Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) sophomore quarterback Steve Angeli following an impressive showing at a one-day camp in June. And since then, Angeli has been paying close attention to what the program is putting on tape.

“I think they are doing some great things and the outcomes of games have really shown how great Coach Day and the Ohio State offensive staff are,” Angeli told Lettermen Row. “They are putting up a lot of points.”

Angeli is not the starter at Bergen Catholic but has had significant time on the field during his second season of high school football. He has not, however, had much time for recruiting as his team plays most of their games on Saturdays. His only trip this year was to Penn State, but he hopes to return to Columbus in the near future to keep building a relationship with Day, Yurcich and the rest of the Buckeyes coaching staff.

“Communication is limited, but I’ve been able to keep in touch with almost every school that has offered me,” Angeli said. “I’ve had a chance to talk to Coach Yurcich and Coach Day over the phone earlier in the season, and two weeks ago Coach Day and Coach Hafley came into the school on their bye week to speak to me and some of my teammates.

“I’m going to try and make it back for a visit this spring.”

Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Join the conversation below in the comments and sign up for Scarlet Sunrise, Lettermen Row’s morning newsletter that will get your day started with all the important Ohio State news you need to know. Prefer video? Follow Buckeyes football on YouTube with Lettermen Row. You can also get your recruiting fix by subscribing to Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.


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 and and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.

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