Ohio State football recruiting: Four-star safety Malik Hartford commits to Buckeyes on CBS Sports HQ


Ohio State added a headlining defensive prospect to its 2023 recruiting class as four-star defensive back Malik Hartford committed to the Buckeyes live Wednesday on CBS Sports HQ. Hartford, a junior at Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio, picked Ohio State over several other Power Five offers. 

Hartford pushes the Buckeyes to the nation’s No. 6 recruiting class despite holding just six commitments, which trails only Tennessee for the fewest number of commits in the top 10. He is the fourth Ohio native in the recruiting class, joining Luke Montgomery, Joshua Padilla and Will Smith. 

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, Hartford boasts elite physicals to be a truly national-caliber defensive back recruit. Hartford ranks No. 154 in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and the No. 11 safety. The Top247 is even higher on Hartford’s potential, ranking him as the No. 90 overall prospect and the No. 5 safety in the nation. 

Safety will continue to be a critical position of need for the Buckeyes as they make the transition to new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. The former Oklahoma State coordinator runs a system with three base safeties who are asked to make big plays in both the pass and run game. 

“Hartford is an instinctive player that has the range to make plays all over the field,” 247 analyst Chris Singletary wrote of Hartford. “He possesses better than average speed. Nice acceleration where he is able to cover a lot of ground to make numerous plays sideline to sideline….


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