Saturday afternoon, Ohio State added another key piece to its highly-ranked recruiting class, bringing another talented prospect in to Urban Meyer’s program. What will their latest verbal bring to Columbus on, and off, the field?
The Buckeyes added a huge commitment at the US Army All-American Game as 5-star cornerback Jeffrey Okudah committed to Ohio State over Florida State and Oklahoma.
What are they getting from this big new addition?
As a football player
The hyperbole around what kind of player Jeffrey Okudah can be is actually a little silly. He was once ranked as the country’s top safety, then when he announced schools were recruiting him as a cornerback, instantly became the top-ranked corner. He’s got the size, speed and hips – along with a freaky natural athleticism – to do whatever he wants on the football field. He’s been a dynamic wide receiver in high school and of course a lock down cornerback.
Okudah’s ceiling is exceptionally high.
“When you see a player like Jeff, you see a really complete player and a person,” one source shared of Okudah. “He’s so dynamic on the field but he’s also very complete as a player. Every part of his game is strong, not like a lot of players who just do one or two things well. He’s smart, he’s talented and he’s going to be hard to keep off the field next season no matter where he ends up. Each school in his top three has openings that he is good enough to fill next season.”
It’s unusual for an Ohio State freshman to start, of course, but Okudah is unusual.
“We did some extra testing on the players, different athletic events,” a source close to the US Army All-American Game said Thursday. “We saw Jeff do things that most guys just can’t do. It’s effortless but it’s explosive. He’s a difference-maker from Day 1.”
His role in the 2017 recruiting class
With his pledge, Okudah – the seventh-ranked player in the nation – becomes the highest-ranked player in Ohio State’s class, two spots ahead of his best friend, 5-star linebacker Baron Browning. He is now the seventh 5-star verbal commit for the Buckeyes in 2017 and gives Ohio State three of the country’s top 10 prospects as of today.
A defensive back who could play either cornerback or safety for the Buckeyes, Okudah told Land of 10 this past Monday he was being recruited primarily as a cornerback.
“Kerry Coombs is going to be my position coach,” he said. “They’re telling me cornerback. They like having bigger corners that can run and I fit that type.”
With Okudah in the class officially – he’s named Ohio State the leader for more than a year – the Buckeyes add to an already spectacular group of committed defensive backs. He joins cornerbacks Shaun Wade (No. 4), Amir Riep (No. 14) and Marcus Williamson (No. 16) and safety Isaiah Pryor (No. 5). Ohio State is still hoping for good news from the country’s second-ranked cornerback Darnay Holmes and potentially the top-ranked JUCO cornerback in the nation, Kendall Sheffield, each of whom are considering the Buckeyes.
The 18th player in the Buckeyes class, Okudah is the third Ohio State commitment in the 2017 group from Texas, joining 4-star running back J.K. Dobbins and Browning. That trio could joined soon by 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. The three 5-stars made their official visit to Ohio State together and have openly discussed playing together at the next level.
An early enrollee, Okudah is one of 10 Buckeyes verbals selected for the US Army All-American Game. His commitment increases Ohio State’s lead over third-place Georgia and solidifies its spot as the country’s second-ranked 2017 recruiting class. Alabama, with 26 commitments, has a small three-point lead over the Buckeyes.
He is one of 15 Buckeye verbals that participated in Nike’s The Opening this past summer in Beaverton, Ore.
The off-the-field, intangible-type stuff
In some ways, the most impressive thing about landing Okudah for Ohio State is that they led, for a long time, for a Texas star, and maintained it and sealed the deal. Okudah told Land of 10 that he was actually considering committed to Florida State a couple of times in his process but opted to hold out and that played in the Buckeyes favor. Anytime you can go into a talent-rich state like Texas and land a player of Okudah’s caliber, it’s an eye-opening win.
Unlike Baron Browning, who is a joker off the field, Okudah’s serious on-field demeanor is the one he carries with him most of the time.
“He’s a special player and a guy that other kids look up to,” Clay Mack, Okudah’s trainer shared with Land of 10. “There have been times I’ve had to isolate him and guys like Baron Browning and (LSU star) Jamal Adams, just because they work so much even when they’re not with me. The other kids saw that and he’s emerged as leader here.
“What makes him so special is the way he was raised. It’s always ‘Yes, sir, no sir’ and that comes from his parents. He carries a 3.8-3.9 GPA and knows that he has to take care of academics and football, that academics is the key for him to even play football. He’s been this way since I started training him.”
It’s that commitment to his craft and excelling on an off the field that will endear Okudah to Buckeyes fans.
“Jeff is a quiet, focused person,” our earlier source shared. “He knows what he wants to do and he goes out and does it. There’s not a lot of hype and drama. He works out, he goes to school, he stays low key. That’s who he is. I think his approach will remind Ohio State fans of Vonn Bell. Vonn was just always at the Woody Hayes. He didn’t go home every chance he got, he was working to improve himself and be a part of the football program every day. Jeff will be that kind of guy.”