From a recruiting standpoint, Ohio State’s season-opening weekend against Notre Dame was insane.
More than 60 highly-touted prospects made their way to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ season opener and that will likely be OSU’s largest recruiting weekend of the year. But that doesn’t mean Notre Dame was the only big recruiting weekend this fall.
The Buckeyes have another prime opportunity to make a statement both on the field and on the recruiting trail in their Big Ten opener against Wisconsin Saturday, with dozens of priority prospects expected to arrive at OSU shortly. Saturday will also mark the third night game the Buckeyes have played within their first four contests.
“It’s been good for recruiting,” Ryan Day said earlier in the week about the prospect of playing a night game because it allows out-of-state prospects more flexibility to find flights to Columbus rather than if the team kicked off at noon.
Five five-star prospects between the 2023, 2024 and 2025 classes are expected to be in attendance, along with around 18 four-star prospects.
With no shortage of high-profile visitors making their way to Columbus, here are four key recruiting storylines worth following throughout the weekend.
The return of Keon Keeley
Of course, the biggest headline of the weekend is five-star Florida defensive end Keon Keeley, one of Ohio State’s biggest priority remaining targets in the 2023 class, is making his way back to Columbus this weekend, just three weeks removed from his official visit to OSU on Sept. 3.
When Keeley decommitted from Notre Dame in August, speculation swirled in the recruiting industry that it was only a matter of time before he was Alabama-bound. While Tuscaloosa still may be where the 6-foot-6, 242-pound prospect chooses to play in the end, Keeley isn’t making a second trip to OSU this month — on his family’s own dime, no less — just for the hell of it of it.
The Buckeyes have done enough to establish themselves as a legitimate contender to land 247Sports’ top-ranked edge player in 2023. Look at Keeley’s reaction to seeing a sold-out Ohio Stadium crowd for the season opener.
— Kyle Kelly (@ByKyleKelly) September 3, 2022
Larry Johnson has a real chance to pull off another massive recruiting win for Ohio State, and the Buckeyes may have at least pulled even with the Crimson Tide as of now. But with Keeley expected to take an official visit to Alabama soon, both programs may have their answer on where the prized pass rusher stands sooner rather than later.
OSU has a chance to make a big impression on other five-star prospects
During the Notre Dame weekend, Ohio State had the opportunity to make a strong impression on various five-star prospects from both the 2023 and 2024 classes. This weekend, in addition to Keeley, wide receiver commit Brandon Inniss, other five-stars expected to attend the Wisconsin game include 2024 defensive lineman Justin Scott, 2024 cornerback Charles Lester III and 2025 offensive tackle David Sanders, rated the No. 1 player in the 2025 cycle per 247Sports’ composite rankings.
Getting those prospects on campus for a gameday visit before their senior seasons could go a long way in strengthening OSU’s relationship with them, and ensure that the Buckeyes are legit players for all three right up until the end of their recruitments.
McDonald taking an official visit to OSU
Man, Johnson surely has a busy weekend ahead of him, doesn’t he?
Four-star Georgia defensive tackle Kayden McDonald is one of two defensive tackles in the 2023 class scheduled to take an official visit to OSU this fall. McDonald will take his seat this weekend while Florida prospect Jordan Hall will visit in November for the Michigan game.
McDonald is considered a Clemson lean at the moment and currently plans to commit sometime next month, so Johnson and OSU will likely have to push hard for McDonald if they want a chance of adding him to their 2023 class.
Saturday will be McDonald’s first visit to Columbus since attending the Penn State game last season.
Key 2024 prospects returning for a second visit this fall
A handful of recruits visiting this weekend have already been on campus this fall for the Notre Dame game, primarily some key targets for Ohio State in the 2024 class.
Those names include Bryce West, Donovan Harbour, Mylan Graham, Garrett Stover, Damarion Witten and Ian Moore. Moore wasn’t 100 percent sure he’d be able to make it Saturday because of prior obligations to his high school, but confirmed to Eleven Warriors Friday morning he’d be there.
Each of those players mentioned has a significant interest in the Buckeyes and that’s certainly mutual on Ohio State’s end. With the 2023 class getting close to the finish line, Ohio State would love to get its 2024 class rolling sooner rather than later. Prospects that are eager to visit Columbus twice in one month may be prime candidates to give verbals to OSU sooner rather than later.
Eleven Warriors will have plenty of coverage from the big recruiting weekend over the following week and a photo gallery of recruits who attended the game on Sunday.
Before then, a full table of expected visitors is compiled below. Names were collected from our intel, reports from other outlets and announcements from recruits. OSU commits are highlighted.