While there are still more than eight months before prospects can put pen to paper during the Early Signing Period, Ohio State’s 2022 recruiting class is shaping up to be one of the nation’s best.

The Buckeyes hold commitments from 11 prospects, including Southlake (Texas) Carroll five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers, Jacksonville Robert E. Lee five-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary and Austin (Texas) Lake Travis five-star wide receiver Caleb Burton, and currently sit atop the 247Sports team recruiting rankings.

The fact that recruits have not been able to take official or unofficial visits for more than a year due to the ongoing dead period makes it even more impressive that head coach Ryan Day and his staff have put together such a highly rated class, successfully navigating virtual visits and self-guided tours. But that said, it’s widely expected that NCAA will bring an end to the dead period on May 31.

Ohio State is anticipating a wave of visitors the first weekend in June as a result, and the summer months will be critical for the Buckeyes in their effort to hold onto the No. 1 class. So, what better time than now to take a look at the staff’s top remaining targets for the current recruiting cycle? Let’s dive in!

Lynchburg (Va.) Liberty Christian Academy Five-Star Offensive Tackle Zach Rice/Charlestown, Ind., Four-Star Offensive Tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin

Offensive tackle is undoubtedly Ohio State’s top priority this cycle, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see two players at the position at the top of this list.

Both Rice and Goodwin are highly regarded and recently trimmed their extensive lists of scholarship offers to five schools. It’s worth noting, though, that the Buckeyes hold just one commitment at the position in West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West four-star Tegra Tshabola and plan to add three or four more linemen this cycle, so their respective recruitments shouldn’t have an impact on one another.

Ohio State has a bit of work to do to land each, as Rice has never been to Columbus and Goodwin has been trending toward Kentucky in recent weeks. Getting them on campus for an official visit this summer will be key if the Buckeyes hope to turn the tide.

If the staff misses out on one or both, other tackles to keep in mind include Daleville (Va.) Lord Botetourt five-star Gunner Givens; Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian School four-star Addison Nichols; Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne four-star Aamil Wagner; Humble (Texas) Atascocita four-star Kam Dewberry; and Bradenton (Fla.) four-star Tyler Booker.

Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove Four-Star Defensive Tackle Caden Curry

There’s a good chance that Curry would already be committed to Ohio State if not for the dead period, which has not only prevented him from visiting Columbus for the first time since he landed an offer from the Buckeyes last May, but also some of the other schools he’s considering such as Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame, among others.

Curry has formed a strong bond with Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson and offensive coordinator/area recruiter Kevin Wilson despite the roadblock and is eagerly awaiting a chance to sit down and talk with the coaching staff in person. He’s among those expected to visit in early June, and if all goes well, the Buckeyes will be hard to beat.

Of course, Ohio State is still looking for its first commitment at defensive tackle, though the plan is to take two or three players at the position this cycle. Other targets include Cordova (Tenn.) St. Benedict at Auburndale five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen; Greensboro (N.C.) Grimsley five-star Travis Shaw; Columbus (Ga.) Hardaway four-star Mykel Williams; Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy four-star defensive tackle Dominick James; Ellenwood (Ga.) Cedar Grove four-star Christen Miller; North Kansas City, Mo., four-star Domonique Orange; and Owasso, Okla., three-star Chris McClellan.

Alatoona (Iowa) Southeast Polk Four-Star Safety Xavier Nwankpa

Seemingly everything that was written about Curry above could be copied and pasted into this spot for Nwankpa, who is also set to visit Ohio State for the first time in early June.

He’s built a strong relationship with Day, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, secondary coach Matt Barnes and several of the Buckeyes’ commitments, such as Kettering (Ohio) Archbishop Alter four-star linebacker C.J. Hicks and Bloomington (Ind.) South four-star athlete Dasan McCullough, and it would be unsurprising to see him announce his pledge that weekend or shortly thereafter.

Of course, the opportunity to visit Alabama, LSU and Notre Dame for the first time might delay things a little bit. But make no mistake, Ohio State is the leader in Nwankpa’s recruitment heading into a very important stretch.

The Buckeyes are aiming to take one or two safeties this cycle, with Nwankpa and Las Vegas Bishop Gorman four-star Zion Branch at the top of the list. If the staff misses out on either, though, that’s when players like Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon four-star Kamari Ramsey; Argyle (Texas) Liberty Christian four-star Cristian Driver; Orlando Evans four-star Markeith Williams; and Buford, Ga., three-star Jake Pope will come into focus.

Memphis Christian Brothers Four-Star Running Back Dallan Hayden/Reading (Pa.) Governor Mifflin Four-Star Running Back Nicholas Singleton

Perhaps no two players find their recruitments more intertwined than Hayden and Singleton, as Ohio State is set to take just one running back this cycle. That’s not to say they couldn’t stretch it to two if both truly wanted to be Buckeyes, but it’s always difficult to ask a pair of highly rated prospects with easier paths to playing time elsewhere to join the same backfield.

Of course, Ohio State running backs coach Tony Alford has experience in doing just that, landing five-star TreVeyon Henderson and four-star Evan Pryor last cycle. But that’s more the exception than the rule, given the latter actually recruited the former.

We’ll find out rather quickly which player is a bigger priority for Alford, as Hayden and Singleton are set to take their official visits on back-to-back weekends in mid-June. Expect the Buckeyes to land a commitment from one and the other to end up at Notre Dame or Penn State.

Atlanta Woodward Academy four-star Damari Alston and Clayton (N.C.) Cleveland four-star Omarion Hampton are also potential options eyeing summer visits.

St. Louis Lutheran North Four-Star Cornerback Toriano Pride/Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna Prep Four-Star Cornerback Ryan Turner

On a similar note, Ohio State finds itself in a battle with Clemson for two of the nation’s best cornerbacks in Pride and Turner. It’s widely believed that one will end up with the Buckeyes and the other with the Tigers, though it’s only a matter of figuring out which one goes where.

Pride is set to take an official visit during the first weekend in June, while Turner recently conducted a four-day self-guided visit and plans to return for an official visit over the summer. Those visits will be key, as neither wants to make a decision without spending time with Day, Coombs and Barnes.

If Ohio State is able to secure a commitment from either player, it’s the staff will likely call it a day at the position given they already hold pledges from Singletary and West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West four-star Jyaire Brown. There are some concerns about the strength of Brown’s pledge, though, and his interest in Notre Dame could open the door for the Buckeyes to pull both Pride and Turner.

This article first appeared on FanNation Buckeyes Now and was syndicated with permission.

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