Finding the right fit for your college football program isn't just about what happens on the field, but off it as well. Today, Ohio State added a key piece. How will that commitment impact the Buckeyes?
Ohio State locked down the top-rated corner in the country this afternoon when Grand Prairie, Texas, five-star Jeffrey Okudah finally admitted the inevitable and committed to the Buckeyes during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Let's take a look at what Okudah — the No. 7 prospect overall in the Class of 2017 — brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Okudah has elite coverage skills, which is why he was rarely tested by opposing quarterbacks during his prep career. His length, strength and speed allow him to play in one-on-one coverage against the opponent's best receiver, and his defensive savvy has oftentimes been compared to first round NFL Draft pick Jalen Ramsey.
While he has only one career interception, Okudah is an extremely versatile athlete. He racked up more than 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns playing wide receiver and running back for the Warriors.
Okudah posted the second-highest score during at Nike's The Opening in July, clocking 4.03 seconds in the agility shuttle, leaping 41.6 inches in the vertical jump and finishing with a 4.49 40-yard dash.
Ohio State's roster makeup — and possible attrition — will obviously dictate Okudah's playing time as a true freshman. Gareon Conley and Malik Hooker have both made their decisions known, and the Buckeyes still await an announcement from Marshon Lattimore. With the possibility of losing three starters in the secondary, the chance for early playing time should be there for the taking.
IN THE CLASS
Okudah is the fifth defensive back to verbally commit to the Buckeyes this year, joining Jacksonville, Florida, Trinity Christian five-star cornerback Shaun Wade; Bradenton, Florida IMG Academy four-star safety Isaiah Pryor and four-star cornerback Marcus Williamson; and Cincinnati Colerain four-star cornerback Amir Riep.
Okudah narrowed down his list of more than 30 scholarship offers to Florida State, Ohio State and Oklahoma in early December. He was in attendance for the Buckeyes' 45-24 win over the Sooners, after which rumors began to surface he silently committed to the staff back in May.
For the Buckeyes, the defensive backfield efforts may not be totally finished as they remain in hot pursuit of four-star Kendall Sheffield, a one-time Bama signee and now the country's top-ranked JUCO corner. Sheffield is still mulling over the possibility of enrolling early. The Longhorns and Aggies both continue to be in the hunt.
It was seemingly only a matter of time before Okudah pulled the trigger, most notably because of his relationship with Meyer. His wife, Shelley, even spent time on the phone with the five-star prospect.
"Coach Meyer and the staff have done a good job of recruiting everybody around me," Okudah said back in August. "When everyone is feeling comfortable about it, it makes my feel a little more comfortable about my decision."
His standing with the program also allowed the Buckeyes to get in the door with both five-star linebacker Baron Browning and five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. The trio went on official visits together this fall, and Okudah undoubtedly — though quietly— played a role in recruiting Browning, his good friend, to Columbus.