Full disclosure: I am a Gateway High alumnus.
Derrick Davis Jr. already has the look of a player who’s ready to land every offer in the country. Just a freshman, the 2021 athlete comes from a storied Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway program that’s produced many highly recruited standouts. And he already holds offers from the likes of Penn State, Pitt, West Virginia, and Temple. On Monday night, he added perhaps his biggest offer yet — from “a dream school” and one of the nation’s blue-blood programs.
“I just picked up the Ohio State offer this evening when I called coach Mark Pantoni. At first, Coach Pantoni asked me if I was standing up or sitting down when he called me. I told him I was sitting down and he said, ‘You might want to sit down for this one.’ He told me that he offered me and I just stood right up in shook. I was so happy. I was really excited,” Davis admitted. “That was a dream school that I grew up watching and I’m a big Urban Meyer fan, even when he was at Florida with Tim Tebow. I was just totally thankful for the offer.”
Meyer has been the coach at Ohio State for most of Davis’ life. The program that he’s helped build at Ohio State has a tremendous appeal for Davis, who said the Buckeyes vaulted into a battle for the top spot on his list nearly immediately after offering.
“For Coach Meyer, coming in for him it was all business. They had that undefeated record right off the bat when they were suspended for bowl games and that was outstanding to me. The college in general is a good college. It’s really close to home,” Davis explained. “I also have family that lives in Ohio, up in Cleveland. This offer ranks really high for me, this one is now fighting with Penn State.”
Penn State has a significant draw for the freshman superstar from the Pittsburgh area, as well. Nittany Lions defensive backs coach Terry Smith was an All-American at Penn State before going on to great success as Gateway’s head coach. Smith’s stepson, Justin King, was a 5-star recruit and first-team All-Big Ten player during his time with the Nittany Lions. Davis has often discussed the duo’s legacy at Gateway when on recruiting visits to Penn State.
“Knowing Coach Terry and Coach Justin is really great. Meeting Coach (James) Franklin is an unbelievable experience. Especially being a freshman, a lot of kids don’t get that kind of opportunity. I’m just thankful for it. Going to Gateway, I’ve been knowing Justin and facing him for a long time,” Davis said. “All of his records are still in that school and I’m just trying to put my name on that board and take his name down. I talked to him about it during their junior day and he just laughed. He told me to go get it and said, ‘Records are meant to be broken.’”
Ohio State, Penn State, and many other programs project Davis as a future star with impressive size and athleticism. He measured in at 6-foot and 172 pounds at the Under Armour All-America camp in Geneva (Ohio) recently. His athleticism and burst are incredibly impressive for his age and he plays all over the field for Gateway. Still, no program currently recruiting him is quite sure what position he’ll play in college. Linebacker and defensive back are just a couple of considerations in play.
“Penn State told me I might be another Micah Parsons and that my ability to play around everywhere is unbelievable. I might mess around and go to linebacker or safety. It will just depend on my weight and how I grow,” Davis said.
In the near future, Davis will be traveling to Columbus to see what Ohio State has to offer. It will be just one of the visits he makes during the spring.
“I’m going to visit Ohio State for one of their spring practices. They haven’t told me which date yet, though — they’ll send me something about that. I’d like to go to Ohio State and I’d like to go to an SEC school and maybe a Pac-12 school, I don’t know,” Davis said.
Check out Davis’ freshman highlights below.