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 the commitment of four-star cornerback Clark Phillips on Friday afternoon, as Phillips selected the Buckeyes over Notre Dame, Cal, UCLA and Oregon.
Phillips is rated as the No. 4 cornerback in the 2020 class and the No. 46 overall prospect.
This is what Phillips’ commitment means for Ohio State’s 2020 recruiting class.
On The Field
Even though Phillips is the highest-rated cornerback commitment in Ohio State’s class and is one of the top athletes in the class, he actually surrenders some raw athleticism to current Ohio State cornerback commit Lejond Cavazos, who recorded a top-five ratings performance in The Opening.
That doesn’t take anything away from Phillips’ athleticism, since Cavazos is arguably the most athletic prospect in the class, but his elite athleticism in its own rite – 4.52 40-yard dash, 35-inch vertical jump – isn’t what makes him one of the top cornerbacks in the country. His instincts at the cornerback position are at an elite level for a high school cornerback. He practices good footwork, jams receivers with strong hands at the line and can look into the backfield while staying with a receiver – a rare skill for high school cornerbacks.
At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, Phillips has the build to battle most receivers with physicality and is far from just a fast, agile defensive back.
Perhaps the skill that jumps out the most about Phillips is his ability to make catches in traffic. He could have played wide receiver at the collegiate level – 54 catches, 1,210 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2018 – and part of what makes him an effective receiver was his ability to catches passes when defensive backs were crashing in on him. Even though he has shown that he can make catches in the role of the defensive back in that scenario, he repeatedly showed that he can come away with the ball.
After his breakout sophomore campaign, when Phillips recorded seven interceptions in eight games, he wasn’t tested very often in 2018, but he still ended the year with two interceptions and did not surrender a touchdown.
He has been invited to the All-American Bowl and the Pro Football Hall of Fame World Bowl and will participate in The Opening Finals.
In The Class
Cornerback was going to be a point of emphasis coming into the 2020 class from the beginning, since Ohio State did not add any cornerbacks in the Class of 2019, and with the coaching changes throughout the offseason, it could have been a disaster at the position for the Buckeyes. But now Ohio State has two of the top cornerbacks in the country to build Jeff Hafley’s secondary.
Cavazos, who is rated as the No. 253 overall prospect in the class, should probably be rated higher, but his playing time has been limited due to injury.
Ohio State could certainly add another cornerback in the class, but the likelihood of Elias Ricks flipping from LSU drops with the commitment of Phillips. No. 5 cornerback Henry Gray would be a viable option, as well as No. 33 cornerback and former N.C. State commit Joseph Johnson.
Regardless, the Buckeyes now have two solid options at cornerback for Hafley to develop before Jeffrey Okudah, Sevyn Banks, Shaun Wade and Marcus Williamson exit the program.
Off The Field
Phillips’ commitment is a big win for Jeff Hafley, who has ties to the West Coast and pulled some strings for Phillips’ interest in Ohio State. Phillips becomes Ohio State’s first commitment in Hafley’s area of the country.
Aside from his ability to coach at the position and his NFL experience, a major appeal to Hafley as a secondary coach when the Buckeyes hired him in January was his connections to the West Coast, and now he has proven that he can in fact bring players to the Midwest from a place like La Habra.