When it comes to recruiting cornerbacks, no program in college football does it better than the Ohio State Buckeyes. They signed Eli Apple and Gareon Conley in the 2013 class, Marshon Lattimore in 2014, Denzel Ward in 2015, 5-stars Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade in 2017, and two more blue chippers in 2018.
At this point, it has become the norm, which is not lost on any of the nation’s top cornerback prospects. One of those players is 5-star 2020 corner R.J. Mickens, out of Southlake Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas. Mickens is the No. 5 cornerback in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 36 player overall. Rivals has him as their No. 3 corner and No. 30 player overall.
Mickens (6-1 180) attended Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp this weekend, which only helps the Buckeyes’ chances here. Even though he spent time getting to know the coaches and the University this weekend, he has been paying attention for a while now.
“I like to watch the corners here because they’re always getting drafted, so you’ve got to look and see what’s the commonality between them and what they’re doing right,” Mickens told The-Ozone. “So I like to watch the corners here. Ward, [Damon] Arnette, and Kendall Sheffield. All the corners here. I got to watch them all last year. I like to watch the corners at LSU too. They’ve got a lot of hype around them.”
On Friday, Mickens got to experience what those Buckeye corners have experienced over the years, and when asked what stood out most to him about the visit, there was a quick answer.
“It has to be the how the professional the coaches are with what they tell you,” he said. “He was really getting into every detail of the scheme. He’s a big DBs coach, Coach Schiano, so that stood out a lot to me.”
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Mickens picked up 99 tackles last year with 13 pass breakups, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions. After talking with OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson, he is hoping to be able to get back to Columbus for a game this year.
Even if he can’t, however, the Buckeyes made quite an impression on this visit alone.
“They’re really high on my list. Very high,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of other schools with them, but Ohio State’s up there at the top-top.”
Along with Mickens’ connection with the coaches and OSU’s ability to put cornerbacks into the NFL, there is also another aspect going in Ohio State’s favor. The Buckeyes will start two Texas cornerbacks in their rotation this year, and both of those players are in Mickens’ ear telling him what OSU is like.
“I train with Jeff [Okudah] actually back in Dallas and Kendall [Sheffield] trains at the same place too,” he said. “They just told me that it’s a good place and it’s the place to be. The academics are good, and the football of course is good. It gets DBs to the league.”
When asked if he is as fast as Sheffield (who happens to hold the OSU 60m record), Mickens displayed exactly the kind of confidence a Buckeye cornerback needs to have.
“I will race Kendall,” he said. “I’ll beat him. Tell him.”