That would be Caleb Downs, an All-SEC safety who led Alabama in tackles as a true freshman last season.
News broke Friday night he plans to join the Buckeyes, adding another impact player to a 2024 defense already expecting to return eight starters.
Coordinator Jim Knowles will have a veteran defensive line and cornerbacks to work with, but safety was a question mark with the graduation of Josh Proctor. That left behind a group of talented but mostly very young potential replacements — including Malik Hartford of Lakota West — figuring to compete to start along with senior Lathan Ransom.
After winning national freshman of the year awards, Downs not only should bolster the defense this fall but be one of few returning starters in 2025.
That is likely the earliest quarterback Julian Sayin and defensive lineman Dominic Kirks are called upon, if then.
Although both are members of the class of 2024, Sayin is technically another Alabama transfer because he enrolled in school and took part in bowl preparations for the Crimson Tide according to 247Sports.
But Nick Saban’s decision to retire after a remarkable run as Alabama head coach cause Sayin to reconsider his future, and he ultimately landed on Ohio State.
Sayin rose to No. 5 among all prospects in 247Sports Composite rankings during his senior season at Carlsbad High School in California. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder also surpassed Dylan Raiola, a former Ohio State verbal commitment, to become the top-rated quarterback in his class.
Adding Sayin means Day will have a crowded quarterback room this spring, though that is a good problem to have. Ohio State already signed another five-star prospect, Air Noland of Fairburn, Ga., and brought in Will Howard, a senior transfer from Kansas State who is expected to compete with sophomore Devin Brown and redshirt freshman Lincoln Kienholz to be Ohio State’s starter this fall.
A senior at Painesville Riverside High School in northeast Ohio, Kirks is the No. 12 prospect in Ohio. He is ranked No. 251 overall nationally and 33rd among defensive linemen.
He was originally a Washington commit but chose not to sign in December then reopened his recruitment earlier this month.
Adding him to the class means Ohio State will sign eight in-state players, tying the highest total in a single recruiting cycle during the Ryan Day era (2019-present).
Ohio State also signed eight Ohioans in 2020 when the overall class had 25 members, so 38 percent of this signing class being from the Buckeye State is the highest for a Day class and the highest since 10 of the 25 signees in 2016 were in-state.
Overall, 31 percent of Day’s recruits have been from Ohio, down from 40 percent in the Urban Meyer era and 60 percent under Jim Tressel and John Cooper.
Adding Kirks raised Ohio State’s 2024 recruiting class to No. 2 in the country behind Georgia. The group was No. 5 on National Signing Day in December.
The move also gives defensive line coach Larry Johnson another building block for the future after. That is important after only signing two players in December and facing the prospect of all four of his starters graduating after next season.