Will Ohio State's dream offseason lead to Ryan Day signing the No. 1 recruiting class?


The college football world has gotten to see Ohio State’s brand at its best this offseason.

After a disappointing end to the 2023 season, the Buckeyes turned around any downward momentum the program might have had. They returned 11 draft-eligible starters from last year’s team, including potential 2025 first-round picks Emeka Egbuka, JT Tuimoloau and Denzel Burke.

On top of that, they brought in seven transfers, headlined by high-impact players like Alabama safety Caleb Downs, Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins, Kansas State quarterback Will Howard and the No. 1 quarterback in the 2024 recruiting class, Julian Sayin, who originally signed with Alabama.

But now, what Ryan Day and the Buckeyes are doing in the 2025 recruiting cycle is more important for the future of the program — and arguably more impressive.

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When Day took the podium to address reporters on Feb. 7, he was insistent that the Buckeyes would continue to be aggressive in the transfer portal to fill yearly holes. That’s the way college athletics is going now, and with everybody aligned on the NIL front, the Buckeyes are poised to be one of the most enticing transfer destinations for years to come.

But Day, who is entering his sixth season as head coach, was also adamant the program would not turn its back on high school recruiting.

“We always want to recruit high school players and develop them,” Day said. “I think we’re doing that as good as anybody in the country.”

Ohio State has carried over its winter momentum to the summer high school recruiting months. The Buckeyes have the top-ranked class in the 2025 cycle in the 247Sports Composite, with commitments from three five-star prospects. Eight of the 14 commitments are ranked in the top 100.

Ohio State Class of 2025 commits

Player Pos Stars Rank State

Devin Sanchez

CB

5

5

TX

Na’eem Offord

CB

5

6

AL

Tavien St. Clair

QB

5

14

OH

Faheem Delane

S

4

34

MD

Tarvos Alford

LB

4

47

FL

Carter Lowe

OT

4

54

OH

Zahir Mathis

Edge

4

60

PA

Bo Jackson

RB

4

81

OH

London Merritt

DL

4

116

FL

Nate Roberts

TE

4

132

OK

DeShawn Stewart

S

4

295

NJ

De’zie Jones

WR

4

314

NJ

Cody Haddad

S

4

377

OH

Eli Lee

LB

4

381

OH

Having a top class in the summer is nothing new to the Buckeyes. Midway through last April, Ohio State took the top spot from Georgia and was putting together what seemed to be an elite defensive line class until Justin Scott flipped to Miami, top edge rusher Dylan Stewart chose South Carolina and four-star Marquise Lightfoot chose Miami. The Buckeyes ultimately finished fifth in the 2024 class rankings.

This year feels different. It’s hard to be certain when dealing with recruiting, but the momentum Ohio State has had since losing in the Cotton Bowl should give fans optimism that a potentially historic class will hold together.


No position better illustrates Ohio State’s recruiting momentum than the secondary.

Ohio State has paired the top cornerback, Devin Sanchez, with the No. 2 corner, Na’eem Offord. Both are five-stars and top-10 overall prospects. At safety, Ohio State got a commitment last Sunday from No. 2 safety Faheem Delane to join four-star DeShawn Stewart and three-star Cody Haddad.

It could be the second consecutive year Ohio State has signed a five-star corner, after Aaron Scott was ranked No. 6 at the position in the 2024 class. The last time the Buckeyes signed two five-star corners in the same class was Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade in 2017. That was also the last time any program had the two top corners in the same class.

If both Sanchez and Offord sign and hold their five-star billing, Ohio State will have accomplished that feat twice, something no other program has done in the 247Sports Composite rankings dating back to 2000. (Alabama did sign three of the top five corners in the 2024 cycle, though.)

“I think if they can get those two, it could be the top cornerback tandem in the modern recruiting era,” said Andrew Ivins, the director of scouting at 247Sports.

Behind the scenes, Ivins said, there have been debates about who is the top corner in the country. Sanchez has the lead and showed off why at Overtime’s 7-on-7 championships.

“It was an unreal performance in the sense of it was exactly how that type of prospect should look in a best-on-best setting,” Ivins said. “He’s 6-foot-2, he has the foot speed but I think he’s super fluid and comfortable in off man coverage. He baits quarterbacks into bad decisions.”

Sanchez been impressing for a long time. When he arrived at North Shore High School in Houston, he opened coach Willie Gaston’s eyes with his competitiveness on Day 1. He earned a starting spot by his sophomore year.

“He made plays. You could see how comfortable he was at playing press man,” Gaston said. “He got tested a lot, but he had a short memory. He never hung his head, he just wanted to compete.”

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CB Devin Sanchez is Ohio State’s highest-rated 2025 commit. (Sara Diggins / American-Statesman / USA Today Network)

Still, Offord, from Parker High School in Birmingham, Ala., is right on his heels.

“Na’eem is a little bit bigger, but he’s everything you want in that position,” Ivins said. “He’s physical and can get the football.”

Ohio State is going to have to work to keep these two together. Sanchez seems like as much of a lock as you can get in recruiting, but Offord is being heavily pursued still by Auburn. He’s expected to visit Ohio State on June 21, though he went on a visit to Auburn on May 31. If the Buckeyes can pair them together, they’ll have something special.

A lot of credit for this jump in secondary recruiting goes to cornerbacks coach Tim Walton. Since his arrival at Ohio State in 2022, he’s not only helped the on-field product, but he’s also had a hand in recruiting Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun, the talented 2024 class of Scott, Bryce West and Miles Lockhart and adding Downs from Alabama this winter.

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Walton is one of the best recruiters in the country right now, though this class’ historic potential isn’t just driven by corners. Delane was a massive addition at safety. He’s a 6 feet 3 and has versatility to play in the box, as a high safety or even in the slot at times. Andy Stefanelli, his coach at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Maryland, said he moves him around on purpose, because Delane can make plays everywhere. It makes him a perfect fit for coordinator Jim Knowles’ defense, he said.

“That is something that attracted Jim to Faheem, and conversely Faheem to Ohio State, is the defense,” Stefanelli said. “We ask Faheem to do a lot of things. That probably made the evaluation easier because he’s already doing things we’re gonna want him to do in high school.”

Throw in Stewart, and Ohio State already has a secondary class most schools could only dream of.

“If he’s your fourth DB, it’s an elite haul,” Ivins said.

But there’s one uncommitted player still looming: Trey McNutt, the top-ranked safety in the class from Shaker Heights outside of Cleveland. He already visited Florida and USC this summer and has visits on the books for Texas A&M and Oregon too. While a visit to Ohio State hasn’t been announced yet, the Buckeyes will be in the running. McNutt’s father, Richard, won a national championship with the Buckeyes in 2002.

If Ohio State lands McNutt, it will have commitments from the top two safeties and corners in the same class, a feat nobody has accomplished in the online recruiting rankings era.

There are a few reasons for that type of success. Again, Walton is recruiting at a high level, but he also has film he can point to for recruits to prove what they’re doing works. And the loss of Nick Saban has shifted the college football recruiting landscape, especially in the South. Ohio State is taking advantage.

The Buckeyes could become the first non-SEC team to get the top player out of Alabama since Clemson signed Justyn Ross in 2018.

In many ways, Ohio State’s success in recruiting talented and versatile defensive backs is reminiscent of what Saban did for so many years at Alabama. The Crimson Tide recruited well at every position, but they were especially well positioned in the secondary because of Saban’s track record there.

“Offord seems like a program trying to capitalize on a state that is undergoing changes with Saban retiring,” Ivins said. “That’s opportunistic recruiting to me.”


Though the secondary stands out, the entire class shows Ohio State executing its recruiting plan to perfection. It’s benefitted from a strong in-state class, and it has won battles in keeping outside powers from coming in and taking Ohio talent.

The Buckeyes landed four-star tackle Carter Lowe, the nation’s No. 7 offensive tackle, along with four-star Bo Jackson, the nation’s No. 5 running back. Each had attention from many SEC schools. Then there is Bellefontaine quarterback Tavien St. Clair, the biggest success story in the class.

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Last summer, Ohio State prioritized St. Clair over Findlay’s Ryan Montgomery, who has since committed to Georgia. St. Clair was a three-star in the 247Sports Composite at the time of his commitment. Since then, St. Clair has shot up in the rankings to a five-star who is the No. 3 quarterback in the class and a top-15 overall player. St. Clair is the highest-rated quarterback in the 247Sports Composite rankings in the state’s history. Braxton Miller, in the 2011 class, was the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback, but his rating of .9847 is below St. Clair’s of .9947. Penn State quarterback Drew Allar was the No. 3 player in the country by 247Sports, but his composite rating was lower, at .9852.

“I think there’s a chance he takes another step as a senior,” Ivins said of St. Clair. “I think he’s wired the right way.”

The Buckeyes still want to land McNutt, but they have otherwise locked down their home state, as planned. Then they have gone back to some familiar pipelines for other positions. Tarvos Alford, the No. 8 linebacker, is the latest Florida product to join Ohio State. Texas has been good to Ohio State too, and Sanchez is the latest from there.

Credit for the success in the class thus far deserves to be spread around, from Day to general manager Mark Pantoni to the entire coaching staff. It’s a great start, but for the Buckeyes to lock down their first No. 1 class in the modern recruiting era, they still have some major needs.

Wide receiver is one of them. The Buckeyes are in the running for just about every major receiving prospect, including three big-name players in four-star Vernell Brown, five-star Jamie Ffrench and five-star Dakorien Moore. Of the top 10 wide receivers, eight of them are uncommitted, and Ohio State is likely to make a splash.

“They are in it for six or seven guys and all of them we think highly of,” Ivins said. “To me it’s one of the most fascinating things because we know Brian Hartline is going to get his guy — it’s just, OK, which one is it going to be?”

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Beyond that, Ohio State still needs help in the trenches. It’s in the running for a few offensive linemen, though it has a good start with Lowe. The defensive line should be a major point of emphasis too after last year’s troubles. The Buckeyes hosted four-star Cincinnati native Justin Hill already and plan to host four-star Mariyon Dye this weekend.

“Those, to me, regardless of where this class finishes, they have to get a guy who can attack from the corner and I think they can get it done,” Ivins said.

The talk all offseason has been about the Buckeyes going all-in for a national championship in the 2024 season, but the 2025 class is a reminder that expectations are for Ohio State to be competing for championships every year. And after things fell apart on the field late last season, the offseason plan is being executed to perfection.

It needs to lead to wins, of course, but since the losses to Michigan and Missouri, there’s been nothing to complain about in Columbus.

(Top photo of Ryan Day: Justin Casterline / Getty Images)



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