COLUMBUS â€” December is drawing to a close, and for Ohio State and the rest of the college football world it brings to an end one of the strangest years anyone has ever experienced.
Since March, the Buckeyes have not hosted a recruit, they’ve not been able to travel to visit recruits or evaluate them. There’s a number of Ohio State targets and commitments alike who haven’t played football since. In general, things have been pretty much a colossal mess for the majority of the year.
Still, the Buckeyes have flourished. They’ve succeeded where a lot of others haven’t, and they’re positioned to compete for a national championship this season while looking for any time to sit back and celebrate the year’s successes, especially on the recruiting trail.
In December, Ryan Day and his program tried to accomplish a few major goals on the recruiting front and had to it between big game cancellations and preparing for the Big Ten Championship against Northwestern.
Here’s how Ohio State handled December, a month full of reasons for Buckeyes fans to celebrate.
No. 1: Ohio State needs to sign every current commitment
The Buckeyes have, as well as any program in the country, avoided theatrics in the 2021 recruiting cycle. There were only two decommitments in the class, and the loss of Devonta Smith was quickly salvaged when Jordan Hancock flipped from Clemson. The decision by Tunmise Adeleye, who ended up signing with Texas A&M, was viewed by many as inevitable from the day he picked the Buckeyes in April.
Ohio State is still hoping to replace Adeleye with 5-star defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau. But even in the widespread bizarreness of this year, lessons can be taught and adjustments will be made in the future.
â€œBefore we even take a kidâ€™s commitment, we want to make sure theyâ€™re a great culture fit,â€ Ohio State director of player personnel Mark PantoniÂ said on Signing Day. â€œWe donâ€™t want to deal with a lot of games being played, like a kid says he commits and then a couple weeks later he wants to go visit other schools.”
No Buckeyes signees who were committed prior to December wavered, none visited any other schools and none held back on putting ink to paper during the Early Signing Period. Twenty commitments up, twenty commitments down.
In a drama-filled year, Ohio State had no recruiting drama and was able to focus on adding to its 2021 class in December rather than maintaining it.
No. 2: Buckeyes need answer from Emeka Egbuka before signing day
Getting an answer one way or another from Emeka Egbuka wasn’t going to make or break the Buckeyes signing class. But there’s no doubt it turned out as well as it possibly could’ve for Ohio State.
Egbuka, the country’s top-ranked receiver, committed to the Buckeyes just two days after he returned from a long-discussed and much-worried about visit to Oklahoma. The Sooners had been clawing their way into the battle for Egbuka, and speculation following his visit trip to Norman had been decidedly pro-Oklahoma. That didn’t last long, and the 6-foot-1, 210-pound receiver made no bones about his decision.
â€œHe chose Ohio State because he knows that Brian Hartline is going to coach the hell out of him,” Colby Davies, Egbuka’s coach at Steilacoom (Wash.) told Lettermen Row during a visit to the Pacific Northwest this month. “Thatâ€™s what he wants. He wants to be the best and will work all day to make sure he is.â€
The Buckeyes needed an answer from Emeka Egbuka and they got one as the country’s No. 9-ranked overall player committed and signed with Ohio State. The bonus? He’s also enrolling early and will be roommates with Kyle McCord, Marvin Harrison and Jayden Ballard.
No. 3: Ohio State needs 2022 class to get together in Columbus
ThereÂ was a plan for the Buckeyes 2022 recruits to gather in Columbus and hang out over the weekend of Dec. 12. But the Michigan game was cancelled, and because of that, some of the steam that had been building toward that weekend dissipated and the plans fizzled out.
And that’s OK, right? There’s plenty of time for C.J. Hicks, Dasan McCullough, Gabe Powers, Quinn Ewers, Caleb Burton, Bennett Christian, Benji Gosnell, Tegra Tshabola and Jyaire Brown to get together and class-build.
Ohio State was able to welcome one of its biggest 2022 targets, Michigan 5-star cornerback Will Johnson, to the city of Columbus for a weekend visit. The Wolverines legacy tripped to Central Ohio with his parents and took in the sights and sounds of Columbus by themselves.
â€œIt was a good visit for me and the family to see everything for ourselves,â€ Johnson told Lettermen Row. â€œMostly it was just checking out key spots on campus and where everything is set up and getting a little sense of the people and environment.â€
He could be only a few weeks away from a college decision so the stop in Ohio to check out the Buckeyes campus could turn out to be pretty important.
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