“Does Ryan Day know there’s a defensive side of the ball?”
That was a popular refrain for a very long time regarding Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class.
When spring ball started for the Buckeyes, there were six players committed. All six were offensive players.
Another offensive lineman — Trey Leroux — came on board early during spring camp, but it wasn’t until spring ball ended that Ohio State had their first defensive commitment.
Florida defensive back Lejond Cavazos, who had decommitted from Ohio State when Urban Meyer announced his retirement, recommitted at the end of spring football, finally giving the Buckeyes a precious defensive commitment.
But then came June and now there were 11 commitments, with Cavazos being the lone defender.
Chatter about Day’s knowledge of positional recruiting picked up again.
Day and his coaching staff, however, weren’t concerned, especially with their two biggest official visit weekends of the spring yet to come.
“Yeah, this this month is a big month for us,” Day said back in early June. “There were a couple of positions of need on offense and we’re working through all those, but it’s really what we’re gonna be at the end of June. That’s when I think we’ll have a better handle on the whole class.”
Over the last two weeks of June, the Buckeyes landed commitments from 3-star Ohio defensive end Ty Hamilton, 4-star California cornerback Clark Phillips, 4-star Ohio defensive lineman Darrion Henry, and 4-star New Jersey linebacker Cody Simon.
And then the week after that, they received commitments from 3-star Maryland linebacker Mitchell Melton and 3-star Michigan athlete Cameron Martinez.
Looking back, it’s easy to see why there wasn’t as much concern inside the WHAC as there was outside the WHAC.
“I don’t feel we’re behind,” co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley said in early June. “Personally, we had a little bit of a later start since some of these guys are being recruited in September and I’m working to play the Rams in September. But that’s okay.
“I think the staff, the defensive guys and even the offensive guys helping, that’s the cool thing. It’s not like it’s just defensive guys recruiting defensive guys. I think everyone’s doing a really good job. We’ve got some pretty good guys coming I for a visit and we’ll swing away. I’m not concerned. It’s Ohio State. We’ll be okay.”
The most recent defensive commitment came Tuesday from 4-star Arizona safety Lathan Ransom.
Ransom is the No. 4 safety in the 247Sports Composite and the No. 76 player overall. He is not the highest-rated defensive commitment for the Buckeyes, however. That honor belongs to Phillips, who is the No. 4 player at his position and the No. 46 player in the nation overall.
That’s two pretty good gets from pretty far away for a brand new head coach who some were worried was neglecting the future of the Ohio State defense.
With four new assistant coaches on that side of the ball, relationships had to be made…and mended.
Now Ohio State is sitting at 21 total commitments, with 12 on offense, eight on defense, and one kicker.
And the Buckeyes aren’t done on defense. Four-star California linebacker Kourt Williams is expected to announce his intentions in the next few days. Ohio State is seen as the favorite.
A defensive lineman or two will still be added, and another safety could join the fray. Ohio State will also continue to hold a spot for elite 5-star California cornerback Elias Ricks.
There isn’t a whole bunch of room left in this class, so the selection process becomes a little bit more refined.
But at least now you know that Ryan Day is aware of the need for defense, and he isn’t too shabby at bringing those players on board.