The Hurry-Up: A primer on the early signing period as Ohio State awaits decisions by Joshua Mickens, Damon Wilson, Matayo Oyagalele, Cayenne Lee and Ajani Cornelius

It’s early signing period.

Starting at 7 a.m. Wednesday, Ohio State will receive its National Letters of Intent from its Class of 2023 commitments, as its designation officially switches from commitment to signatories.

But there is still some uncertainty. As it stands, Ohio State has 20 players committed to its class of 2023. Can that number grow? Can it shrink? With signing day almost here, we’ll dive into the storylines Ohio State fans will have to tune in to throughout the day.

An unexpected signing announcement from Joshua Mickens

2023 Indiana’s four-star defensive end Joshua Mickens always intended to sign Wednesday. That was not in doubt. But the former LSU commitment always planned to be a silent site and then announce his decision at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Jan. 7.

Now those plans have changed, as the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Mickens plans to announce his engagement at noon at a ceremony at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis.

Honestly, it would be shocking if Mickens’ choice was any other college besides Ohio State. Mickens made two visits to Columbus in November, one for the November 12 game against Indiana and then went on a state visit for the November 26 Michigan game. He dropped out of LSU a few days later and has not been linked to any other school since.

In his senior season, Mickens made 74 tackles (20.5 for loss) and 6.5 sacks. He will be the fourth defensive lineman to commit to OSU this tournament, joining Will Smith Jr., Jason Moore and Kayden McDonald.

What about five star defensive ends?

OSU news seems to be good on Mickens. On Damon Wilson, not so much.

The five-star Florida talent has been eyeing Georgia for weeks now, and several 247Sports writers have made predictions for him to pick the Bulldogs when he commits Wednesday afternoon.

So, what about Matayo Uiagalelei? This race seems a little too close to call it right now. The finalists Ohio State, USC and Oregon all seemed to think they had a shot at making it to the top five-star talent. Ohio State has been seen as a favorite in this recruitment for a long time, but the stay-at-home appeal of USC is probably at least on par with the Buckeyes.

It seems the only concrete way the world will know for sure which direction Uiagalelei is leaning is when he announces it to the world himself at a signing day ceremony in St. John Bosco (Bellflower, CA) Wednesday afternoon. Landing Uiagalelei would be a signing day coup that will make the 2023 class look that much stronger on paper. If he goes elsewhere, OSU is looking at its top class to sign just one five-star player in the 247Sports composite rating since 2016.

Is the Cayenne Lee on the lookout?

Last year’s signing day was mostly drama-free, but today wasn’t without its flaws as the corner envelope at OSU turns against Texas. Could the Buckeyes lose another cornerback in the early signing period again?

Perhaps, but this is far from certain. Four-star Cayenne Lee was courted aggressively by Auburn and prospect Georgia visited the SEC school’s campus earlier this month and donned Tigers gear during the state championship game.

It also didn’t help that OSU quality control coach Miguel Patrick, Lee’s former high school coach, left Columbus to become UAB’s defensive line coach.

But Tim Walton and OSU have made a solid effort to keep Lee in the class of 2023, and there is cautious optimism from the Buckeyes that he will eventually sign with them. Lee will make his final decision about his future this week and OSU certainly hopes that it will be in Columbus.

OSU’s top transfer target Ajani Cornelius will stick around Wednesday

The drama doesn’t stop with high school prospects, as Ohio State eagerly awaits the decision of their biggest transfer portal target this season, Rhode Island offensive tackle Ajani Cornelius.

Cornelius will announce his decision at 6 p.m. Wednesday and is expected to choose from a pool of OSU, Tennessee, Nebraska and Oregon, each of which he has made state visits.

One day before the decision, Cornelius’ whereabouts remain uncertain. From an OSU perspective, the Buckeyes will either need to land a potential impact player or go back to the drawing board at this position.

Their two other transfer tackles so far seem out of whack, as UTEP tackles Jeremiah Byers Committed to Florida on Monday And Tulsa tackle Dillon Wade told 247Sports he’s running back to Auburn and USC. As of now, it appears to be Cornelius or a bust of the Buckeyes.

Also of note

Earlier this month, 2023 Ohio State five-star wide receiver Brandon Ennis warned that he could delay his signing until February with uncertainty over Brian Hartline’s future with OSU at the time, with rumors swirling that he would be interviewing for a job. Cincinnati. Now that Hartline has said he’ll be in Columbus for at least one more season, Ennis doesn’t feel the need to wait until February and announced he’ll sign with OSU on Wednesday.

In his senior season at American Heritage High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Inniss caught 73 receptions for 1,336 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns while adding 1,947 all-purpose yards. He is the highest ranked class of 2023 in Ohio.

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