After losing out to UCLA in the chase for 5-star 2017 cornerback Darnay Holmes, Ohio State didn’t take long to bounce back. Kendall Sheffield, a 5-star prospect in the class of 2015 and former Alabama signee who played one season in Tuscaloosa, has committed to the Buckeyes.
The news was first reported by ESPN.com’s Gerry Hamilton.
Sheffield, who ranks as the nation’s No. 1 junior college cornerback, played the 2016 season at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, has already enrolled in Columbus. He spent one year in Tuscaloosa – he redshirted for the Crimson Tide – and left Alabama in August 2016. He was the country’s fourth-ranked prep cornerback out of Fort Bend Marshall High School in Missouri City, Texas. He was expected to compete for a backup position for Nick Saban’s program this season.
According to Scout.com’s John Garcia, who spoke with Land of 10 in San Antonio during the U.S. Army All-American game the weekend of Jan. 7, there were a few reasons for the transfer from Alabama.
“Coming into his time at Alabama, it seemed like he was a candidate to play fairly early into his career. Alabama loved his size, ball skill and track speed like it did with previous Texan track and field standouts Tony Brown and Maurice Smith,” Garcia said. “But from the point he was redshirted, followed by the departure of Kirby Smart to Georgia, it seemed to spell a new turn on his plans in Tuscaloosa. Once the current staff was in place, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and secondary coach Derrick Ansley, it began to seem like a matter of when and not if he would make a move.
“Sheffield stuck it out for just over a year, into 2016 camp, before Anthony Averett won the vacant cornerback job opposite another former track star, Marlon Humphrey. Once that race became clear, the actual move was made.”
In his one season for the Bucs, Sheffield recorded 31 tackles and 11 tackles for loss, forcing two fumbles and intercepting two passes. He also excelled as a kick and punt returner for Blinn, scoring two touchdowns on special teams.
Regardless of the reasons for the move, Ohio State stands to benefit. Kerry Coombs, who aggressively recruited Sheffield during his high school days, never stopped chasing the cornerback and is no doubt eager to add another key ingredient to what will be a rebuilt (again) Buckeyes secondary. Sheffield joins what is already the country’s best group of defensive backs, including the country’s top-ranked cornerback, Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade (No. 4), Amir Riep (No. 14) and Marcus Williamson (No. 16), as well as the nation’s fifth-ranked safety, Isaiah Pryor.
Sheffield, Okudah, Wade, Williamson and Pryor have all enrolled early at Ohio State and will be a major part of the Buckeyes’ defensive changes this spring.