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Waiting game for Brenton Cox almost over
Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class could be on the verge of a another big step forward. Brenton Cox, the country’s second-ranked strongside defensive end according to 247Sports, is set to make his college announcement at any time.
With his final two schools being Ohio State and Georgia, Cox will make his decision following a Monday visit from Ohio State D-line coach Larry Johnson Sr. and a week after his second visit to Columbus — from Georgia — in four weeks.
What would the 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end from Stockbridge High mean for Urban Meyer’s recruiting class?
Let’s examine that now.
As a football player
Cox has the look of a big-time D-line prospect. He is a big, powerful player who is capable of overwhelming most offensive tackles he’s faced by pure talent alone. Timed in the 4.8-second range in the 40-yard dash, Cox is a top-level prospect athletically. That’s what makes him so attractive to college coaches now, despite being far from a finished product.
In two seasons of varsity football, Cox has 29 sacks. He dominated as a junior (18 sacks, 75 tackles in 13 games). If he picks the Buckeyes and develops under the tutelage of Johnson, he’ll become much more adept at using his hands and hips. There’s a high ceiling here for a player that still has a year of high school remaining so it’s hard to project exactly how his body will fill out at the next level, but you’d be hard-pressed to find many better frames to start with. He’s going to get more and more chances to compete against top caliber players, such as Georgia 5-star offensive guard prospect Jamaree Salyer, so it will be easier to see how much work has to be done as he enters his final year of high school.
From Jeff Sentell of Dawgnation.com, who was on hand when that duo squared off at Nike’s The Opening regional camp in Atlanta earlier this year:
Salyer had to think differently to deal with Cox. But he still kept it simple, relying on his natural instincts and previous coaching.
“He has that little move that he kind of sets you up,” Salyer said. “He kind of goes inside to set you up outside. I just tried to be patient with him and not just give him something so he can just take it.”
That’s easier said than done. Especially against an elite pass rusher like Cox.
“It was a great matchup,” Salyer said. “With me not having a lot of experience at tackle but just relying on my football and technique that coach Kev (Pace Academy offensive line coach Kevin Johnson) teaches me. I’m just glad I did well.”
That’s what the Buckeyes would be getting on the field.
His role in the 2018 recruiting class
This is where things could start to get interesting. Cox would be Ohio State’s eighth commitment of 2018 and the second defensive lineman in a group that should reach five or six total, joining 5-star defensive tackle Taron Vincent as future “Rushmen” for Johnson. However, as a pure defensive end he’d be the first of what’d likely to be three players at that position: Ohio State is likely going to have to replace Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard after the 2017 season and a restocking of the shelves is necessary.
Cox is the 46th-best overall prospect according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings; all seven of the Buckeyes current verbals are regarded among the 86 best players in the nation. He’d becomes the second player in the Ohio State class from Georgia, joining 5-star QB Emory Jones. It was Jones’ mother, Trina, who played the role of “tour guide” for Cox’s mother during the family’s recent visit to Ohio State.
Ohio State will still be behind Penn State as the No. 2 class in the Big Ten and No. 5 class nationally, but the Buckeyes are seriously closing the gap on the Nittany Lions. No Big Ten school has ended a recruiting cycle with a better class than Ohio State since Urban Meyer’s arrival.
The off-the-field, intangible-type stuff
Landing a big-time player from the heart of SEC country is always a big deal and that’d certainly be the case here. Cox choosing Ohio State rather than Georgia was not even dreamed of a month ago. Sources close to the Buckeyes believed they were all but out of the race following Cox’s first spring visit to Columbus because they weren’t sure if they’d get a chance to show his mom what the school and city had to offer her son. On top of that, Georgia was close to a “dream school” as you can find in this discussion. Today, all sources indicate that not only do the Buckeyes have that chance, but that they are in fact the likely winner as of right now.
“My family is all 100 percent Dawgs there,” Cox said last month. “They don’t want me to go out-of-the-state anywhere with that. They all want to see me at Georgia.”
The Bulldogs have dangled the opportunity to wear No. 1 in Athens. Imagine a pass rusher flying in off the edge wearing No. 1. That would be unique.
He could stick with his No. 8 in Columbus. His Twitter page is topped off by a recent pic he took with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his many championship rings.
“I’ve been going to Georgia since I was in the eighth grade,” Cox said last month. “Do you know how it is when you watch an old movie that you like? Every time you watch it you then see different stuff you like every time that makes you love it more. That’s how I feel about Georgia.”
What hasn’t been clear is how Cox felt about Ohio State. The Buckeyes were able to showcase to this Tampa native and his family that it was in his best interest to travel some 650 miles north and to give Johnson the chance to mold him on and off the field. There’s not much doubt about how powerful the Ohio State brand is right now, and this recruitment is just one more glaring example of that. If they are to reel in Cox, the Buckeyes will have to fight Georgia until signing day. But they’ll be in a much better place than the Bulldogs: They’ll be the team to whom he committed.