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 landed a commitment on Friday afternoon from one of the nation's elite defensive backs when Fort Lauderdale, Florida, St. Thomas Aquinas four-star cornerback Jordan Battle pledged his services to the Buckeyes less than a week after his long-anticipated official visit.
Let's take a closer look at what Battle – the No. 171 prospect overall in the Class of 2019 – brings to Columbus.
ON THE FIELD
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Battle fits into the exact mold of Ohio State’s long line of great cornerbacks. He’s tall, shows excellent range and has a knack for the end zone when he gets the ball in his hands.
Battle recorded 55 tackles, four interceptions, three pass break ups, one fumble recovery and one defensive touchdown to help the Raiders to the state playoffs last season. He also helped the South Florida Express to the adidas 7-on-7 National Championship this spring, as he picked off several passes during a tournament that featured many of the best recruits in the country, including Ohio State five-star wide receiver commit Garrett Wilson and four-star targets David Bell, Elijah Higgins and Marcus Washington.
“Jordan is blessed with size, athleticism, speed, leadership skills and substantial football acumen,” St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Roger Harriott told Eleven Warriors. “As a player, he possesses the versatility to play cornerback and safety at an elite level. His eye discipline, hip mobility, football intelligence and physicality separates him from the rest. His last name fits his attitude and mentality. He is the complete package at defensive back.”
Battle is an instinctual defensive back who covers a lot of space, often finds himself within close proximity to the ball and jumps routes with ease. He has the athletic ability and tracking skills to go up and get the ball in traffic. Battle is also solid in run support, keeping his eyes in the backfield at all times.
Aquinas typically deploys press-man and bump-and-run coverage, so Battle — when he’s not roaming center field as a safety — has become increasingly physical over the last year and uses his length to disrupt wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. He’s also shown the ability to reroute wideouts when covering the slot in the nickel formation.
“Jordan’s most impressive trait is the love he expresses for his teammates, coaches and the game,” Harriott said. “Off the field, Jordan is family oriented and enjoys setting a positive example for others. His best days are yet to come.”
That said, Battle still has room to mature physically. Once he gets into the Buckeyes’ weight room and on their nutrition plan, he should be able to pack on the muscle and quickly find himself with the same measurable as a big-bodied and long cornerback like Jeffrey Okudah. He also needs to improve his form tackling technique, as he often tries to make the highlight hit or wraps up high.
Battle will participate in The Opening Finals this weekend and has accepted an invitation to play in the Under Armour All-America Game in January 2019.
IN THE CLASS
Battle becomes the 13th member of Ohio State’s Dynasty ’19 recruiting class, joining New Jersey four-star athlete “Rocket” Ronnie Hickman and Maryland three-star safety Bryson Shaw in the defensive backfield.
The Buckeyes have signed eight cornerbacks in the last two recruiting cycles, which means it’s quite possibly the deepest position on the roster right now. But that said, starters Kendall Sheffield and Damon Arnette are both eligible to enter the NFL Draft following their redshirt junior seasons, and the staff may look to offset that by adding at least one more cornerback to complement Battle this cycle.
That said, the position lacks the star power and overall depth we’ve come to expect in recent years, as we’ve seen Ohio State sign five-stars like the aforementioned Okudah, Shaun Wade and Tyreke Johnson in two-consecutive cycles. The staff also had to reset its board when assistant coordinator Kerry Coombs left for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans this offseason. Coombs, in particular, was pushing hard to flip Michigan State four-star commit Julian Barnett, but that ship sailed the moment he left for Nashville.
New cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson has filled in nicely in the meantime, however, and build a strong bond with a number of prospects, including Tennessee four-star cornerbacks Adonis Otey and Woodi Washington. The two have emerged as top tier-targets following their strong performances during the Buckeyes’ one-day camp earlier this month, as well.
Florida four-star Kaiir Elam, who recently visited campus for the third time, also remains high on Ohio State. Most believe it to be a two-horse race between the Buckeyes and Gators, but his strong bond with Meyer — who recruited both his father and uncle — could swing things in the former’s favor.
Texas three-star athlete Peyton Powell is also a name to keep in mind following his official visit this past weekend. If the Buckeyes miss out on those four, Florida three-star John Dixon and Pennsylvania three-star M.J. Devonshire are seemingly waiting in the wings.
Since the turn of the century, no out-of-state school has provided Ohio State with more talent than St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, only Cleveland Glenville (22) and Huber Heights Wayne (7) have produced more Buckeyes in that timeframe.
The Raiders have sent six players to Columbus since 2000, including wide receivers Duron Carter and Trevon Grimes; defensive ends Joey and Nick Bosa; cornerback Damon Arnette; and safety Nate Salley. Battle obviously makes seven, and it doesn’t appear that pipeline will stop flowing anytime soon with 2020 four-star linebacker Derek Wingo also extremely interested in Ohio State — and maybe even close to committing during his four-day unofficial visit this weekend.
Meanwhile, the Tarblooders’ 16-year run of Buckeyes came to an end with the departures of linebacker Chris Worley and safety Erick Smith this offseason.