Ohio State landed commitment No. 4 in the 2019 recruiting class on Friday evening, pulling in Wayne (N.J.) DePaul Catholic athlete Ronnie Hickman while he made an unofficial visit to campus. Hickman is ranked as the No. 124 player overall and No. 13 athlete in the class on the 247Sports composite rankings, although the 6-foot-1, 200-pound prospect is expected to play safety at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes have led seemingly the entire way since they offered Hickman a year ago and reeling in another highly rated prospect continues a great start to the recruiting class. Let’s take a look at what Hickman’s commitment means to Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class.
What Ronnie Hickman means on the field
Hickman is an explosive athlete with the size, instincts, coverage skills and range to be an effective player at either safety role in Ohio State’s quarters coverage scheme. Some programs viewed Hickman as a wide receiver and there’s even been talk that he could grow into a linebacker, but I maintain that it’s most likely he sticks at safety. Don’t overthink this one too much.
Perhaps his biggest strength is the ability to cover ground and be an eraser in the passing game. Hickman has the length and athleticism to make up ground quickly and can also get down into the flats to deliver punishment. You should feel comfortable with him playing center field. His background as a wide receiver also helps him play the football well in the air and come down with more than his fair share of 50/50 balls.
That’s not to say that Hickman falls short in run support — the New Jersey safety can deliver a blow when it’s needed. Hickman takes solid pursuit angles and shows the ability to be an effective tackler.
What Ronnie Hickman means in recruiting
For Ohio State’s recruiting class, Hickman is a very solid addition. The Buckeyes are likely to take three to five defensive backs overall in 2019 and at least one more safety is likely. The players Ohio State will focus on at safety moving forward are Maryland product Nick Cross, Florida’s Jordan Battle, Oklahoma blue-chip player Daxton Hill and Georgia natives Jaylen McCollough and Kyle Hamilton. Cross and Battle are the most likely of that bunch, in my opinion.
Hickman hails from DePaul Catholic, one of the most prominent programs in northern New Jersey’s leagues of private school powerhouses. In the past, Ohio State has pulled players from DePaul’s competition such as Pope John XXIII (Noah Brown), Bergen Catholic (Javontae Jean-Baptiste) and Don Bosco Prep (Kevin Feder). Breaking into this area is good news for the Buckeyes because it’s one of the most talented-concentrated regions in the country.
Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class is now ranked No. 21 in the 247Sports team composite rankings. That has the Buckeyes at No. 5 in the Big Ten, behind Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern. Among all programs in the country with four or fewer commits, Ohio State has the top-ranked recruiting class.