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 earned a recommitment from Bradenton, Florida, four-star defensive back Lejond Cavazos on Friday evening. The hyper-athletic defensive back, who is expected to play cornerback at Ohio State, once committed to the Buckeyes in June 2018 but decommitted after former head coach Urban Meyer’s retirement.
Now, Cavazos is recommitted, becoming the eighth commitment of Ohio State’s 2020 class. This is not only what he brings to Columbus but what his latest commitment means to the Ohio State program.
On The Field
Cavazos brings plenty of speed and agility to the cornerback position for the Buckeyes. He displays good patience and handwork in press scenarios and good vision off the line and in a zone. He can run with most receivers at the high school level, as he blazed a 4.40-second 40-yard dash at The Opening Regional in Miami this February, and he has shown willingness to lower his shoulder into ball carriers, though adding some weight and strength onto his 190-pound frame wouldn’t hurt, as is the case for most high school athletes entering the college ranks.
It’s been difficult to see exactly what Cavazos can do on the field, as he played a backup role during his sophomore season and after earning a starting spot for his junior year, fell to a hip injury just a few weeks into the 2018 season.
What is encouraging for Ohio State is that the injury hasn’t seemed to slow down his athleticism. Cavazos topped his already lofty numbers from The Opening Regional in Dallas as a sophomore – 4.56 40-yard dash, 43-inch vertical and a 4.38-second shuttle with a strained hamstring – with his performance at the same regional showcase in Miami as a junior. He ran the 40 in 4.40 seconds, leaped 44 inches in the vertical and ran 4.16 in the shuttle.
Cavazos has shown through his various camp tests and his strong displays in hurdle events in track and field that he can bring elite-level athleticism to any college program. With injuries and a lot of time missed on a football field, there is still room to grow in regard to defensive schemes and technique. By the end of the 2020 class, though, Cavazos will be known as one of the prospects with the most potential.
In The Class
Largely because of Cavazos’ hip injury and lack of playing time on the field, his ratings are not what would be expected in correspondence with a prospect that can jump 44 inches. He committed to Ohio State on Friday as the No. 289 prospect in the class and the No. 42 player coming out of Florida.
The bit of film Cavazos does have and the showings he’s made in camps has warranted offers from Ohio State, Miami, Oregon, Alabama and others.
Cavazos’ commitment also adds a much-needed cornerback to the Ohio State 2020 class. The Buckeyes were unable to bring in a corner in the 2019 class, and the more that time passes and top cornerbacks like Fred Davis (Clemson), Miles Brooks (Georgia Tech) and Lorando Johnson (LSU) commit elsewhere, the more it appears the Buckeyes will be bringing in only a couple cornerbacks to succeed Damon Arnette and potentially, given good enough 2019 seasons, Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade.
Fellow Florida cornerback Henry Gray seems like the most likely recruit outside of Cavazos to pick Ohio State, especially since his visit to Clemson did not happen last weekend and two top defensive backs are committed to the Tigers already. Gray is the No. 6 cornerback in the class, and if he does decide to join Cavazos in Columbus, the Class of 2020 would contain significant promise at the position for the Buckeyes.
Cavazos has also shown to have a good relationship with No. 1 2020 wideout Julian Fleming. The two did not venture far from each other when they attended Ohio State’s Student Appreciation Day spring practice on March 23, and Fleming has developed a good relationship with Ohio State wide receivers coach Brian Hartline that has made Ohio State a top school for Fleming. A good relationship with the latest Ohio State commit might just be enough to earn the Buckeyes a pledge from the top wideout in the country, too.
Off The Field
The way that Cavazos has effortlessly created relationships with other recruits in the class, such as Fleming, four-star Arizona quarterback commit Jack Miller and former four-star Georgia tackle commit Jake Wray, it’s clear that Cavazos can be a magnetic figure within a locker room – the type of recruit that develops into a leader.
The way the Florida corner took a step back in his recruitment after Urban Meyer’s departure and continued to develop a relationship with Ryan Day instead of burning the bridge and simply looking elsewhere shows the maturity that can pay dividends on and off the field for any program.
But largely, what Cavazos’ recruitment process displayed was Ryan Day’s ability to succeed as a recruiter from the head coach position.
Oftentimes, a decommitment from a program after a seismic coaching change like Meyer’s leads to a permanent decrease in interest, but Day and secondary coach Jeff Hafley did enough damage control to turn the tide and earn Cavazos’ interest again.
The commitment also shows that recruits can trust and believe in the message and the plan that Day is selling them, rather than leaning on previous successes under Meyer. Re-earning commitments from decommitments can often show more about a program’s trajectory in recruiting than first-time commits, and this recommitment came from Day’s efforts.