Air Noland Quarterback

Buckeye Football Welcomes 15 Early Enrollees

Classes started on Monday at Ohio State, which means the college careers of 15 new football Buckeyes have begun. Ohio State has currently signed 20 players in its 2024 recruiting class but the final signing day isn’t for another four weeks and the class may yet grow a little larger.

Of those 20 players, 15 have chosen to enroll early at OSU, allowing them to participate in winter workouts and spring practice. It’s a larger than normal number of mid-year enrollees, which generally pays dividends during the season.

Enrolling early gives players an opportunity to essentially spend eight months preparing for fall camp, which is where their playing time as true freshmen will generally be decided.

Of the 15 players enrolling early, seven are on the offensive side of the ball, and eight are on defense.

Quarterback Air Noland (6-3 195) comes to Columbus from Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Georgia where he was a five-star prospect who threw for over 10,000 yards. He will enter a quarterback room that will be searching for a new starter to replace Kyle McCord, who transferred to Syracuse last month.

Texas running back James Peoples (5-10 203) took part in last week’s All-American Bowl in San Antonio and will now join a running back stable at Ohio State that has recently added two-time All-SEC performer Quinshon Judkins out of Ole Miss. Peoples is ranked the No. 7 running back in the nation.

Pickerington North’s Sam Williams-Dixon is a second running back in the class. He didn’t have to travel too far on move-in day this past weekend. Williams-Dixon (5-11 203) was ranked the No. 60 running back in the nation following his transfer to Pickerington North from West Holmes High School where he posted nearly 1,800 yards from scrimmage and 41 touchdowns as a junior.

In terms of recruiting rankings, the star of the class is Florida wide receiver Jeremiah Smith (6-3 200). Smith, out of Chaminade-Madonna Prep, is the No. 1 overall player in the nation. He caught 88 passes for 1,376 and 19 touchdowns in 14 games as a senior. He went for 11 catches and 170 yards in a state title victory to cap his high school career.

Ohio State signed four offensive linemen in the 2024 class, with three of them among the 15 early enrollees. Indiana’s Ian Moore (6-6 317) is the highest-ranked among them at No. 191 nationally and the No. 8 interior line prospect in the class. Lakewood St. Edward twin brothers Deontae and Devontae Armstrong are both three-star prospects, with the former slated for tackle and the latter at guard.

Defensively, the top-ranked prospect in the class is Buford, Georgia defensive end Eddrick Houston. Houston (6-3 275) is the No. 5 edge rusher in the class, and over his junior and senior seasons he totaled 109 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks.

Defensive tackle Eric Mensah (6-3 290) is also in early and he is currently the only other defensive lineman in the class. As a senior, he was named the Commonwealth District Defensive Player of the Year and was a First-Team selection on the defensive line.

Linebackers Payton Pierce and Garrett Stover have come from Texas and Ohio, respectively. Pierce (6-1 220) attended Lovejoy High School in Lucas, Texas where he posted 181 tackles and 40 tackles for loss as a senior. Over his final two seasons, he produced 312 tackles, 61 tackles for loss, and 14 sacks. He is ranked the No. 16 linebacker in the class and the No. 204 player overall.

Stover (6-0 205) is the cousin of OSU tight end Cade Stover and attended Big Walnut High School in nearby Sunbury, Ohio. He was a First-Team All-State selection as a senior following a year where he posted 89 tackles, three tackles for loss, three sacks, and two interceptions. Stover was ranked the No. 9 safety in the class and the No. 105 player overall. Despite the ranking and experience at safety, he is expected to be a linebacker for the Buckeyes.

Even without Stover at defensive back, there is plenty of representation in the secondary among the early enrollees in cornerbacks Aaron Scott, Bryce West, and Miles Lockhart, and safety Jaylen McClain.

Scott (6-2 190) is a five-star prospect out of Springfield, Ohio where he was a First-Team All-State selection and the top-ranked player in the state. West (5-11 183) is the latest Buckeye from Cleveland Glenville. He is ranked the No. 4 cornerback in the nation, while also having experience at safety and nickel. West is also a 10.57 100m track athlete.

Lockhart (5-10 185) is from Basha High School in Chandler, Arizona and was the No. 4 player in the state overall. Over the past two seasons, Lockhart has posted 108 tackles and four interceptions. He also played running back on a state-championship team as a junior.

McClain (6-0 185) is the latest safety prospect to end up at Ohio State from New Jersey, joining past Garden Staters like Jordan Fuller, Ronnie Hickman, and Jayden Bonsu. As a senior, McClain earned All-State honors following a season where he posted 126 tackles.

The rest of the freshman class — WR Mylan Graham, TE Damarion Witten, TE Max LeBlanc, OL Gabe VanSickle, and SAF Leroy Roker — will enroll in June.

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