Ryan Donnelly/Land of 10
MJ Devonshire is one of Ohio State's top cornerback targets in the 2019 class.

Is Ohio State’s defensive back recruiting a cause for concern?

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Ohio State fans have gotten used to elite defensive back recruiting. Eleven of the Buckeyes’ 12 defensive back signees in the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes were rated as 4-star or 5-star prospects. As a result, nine Ohio State defensive backs have been selected in the NFL draft from 2014 to 2018 — a number that includes six first-round picks.

Though the Buckeyes are compiling another elite recruiting class for the 2019 class, there has been less buzz around elite defensive back recruits than there has been at other positions. The Buckeyes have two safeties committed — 4-star prospect Ronnie Hickman and 3-star recruit Bryson Shaw — but the cornerback targets, in particular, lack some star power in this class.

Is that a cause for concern at this early juncture of the 2019 recruiting cycle? I would lean toward no.

Some of this is natural. Former cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was an ace recruiter for Ohio State for years and was instrumental in building strong relationships with some of the top 2019 defensive back recruits around the country.

Though Taver Johnson is highly regarded as a recruiter and is doing well as his replacement, Coombs’ departure for the Tennessee Titans led to a reset with some Buckeyes targets. Michigan State commit Julian Barnett‘s coach told Land of 10 that any chance Ohio State had of flipping the 4-star recruit “was over” when Coombs left Ohio State.

Even without Coombs though, Ohio State continues to recruit at a high level. Hickman is desired by some of the top programs around the country. The Buckeyes are the favorite for Jordan Battle, a 4-star prospect and the No. 10 safety and No. 172 recruit overall in the 247Sports composite rankings for the 2019 class. Ohio State remains as a contender for 5-star safety Daxton Hill of Oklahoma and 4-star safety Nick Cross of Maryland, and several other blue-chip players at the position have the Buckeyes in their top group.

Cornerback recruiting may not be as star-studded, but it’s not a great year at the position nationally anyway and there are several players who love Ohio State. If the Buckeyes pushed for 3-star prospects such as MJ Devonshire or John Dixon, they would almost certainly be the favorites for both. Four-star recruits such as Erick Young, Jeffery Carter, Woodi Washington, Kaiir Elam and Adonis Otey all have Ohio State in their top groups and there’s plenty of time for the program to push hard and emerge as serious contenders.

I don’t know that this class will have quite the same high billing as previous years when 5-star prospects such as Jeff Okudah, Shaun Wade or Tyreke Johnson signed with Ohio State, but that doesn’t mean this will be a poor quality class either. The Buckeyes will still sign several blue-chip recruits to fill out defensive back needs.

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