Flip Watch: Three Committed Corners Still Firmly in the Mix on Jeff Hafley's 2020 Recruiting Radar

By Andrew Ellis on July 23, 2019 at 12:30 pm
Jeff Hafley has his eyes on another cornerback for the 2020 class.

Ryan Day's first recruiting class is in an interesting spot. National signing day is still over six months away, but the class is quickly approaching max capacity. The numbers crunch – which is tentatively expected to end up somewhere in the 25-27 signee vicinity – usually seems to work itself out, but we're not used to things moving this quickly on the trail. 

So where do things stand right now? Ohio State has 21 commitments in the fold with one of those being an expected grayshirt in kicker Jake Seibert. There are three major commitments already scheduled for the coming weeks. That includes four-star linebacker/bullet Kourt Williams on Wednesday, four-star all-purpose back Jaylan Knighton next week on July 30, and five-star tailback Bijan Robinson on Aug. 2. 

After the Robinson news drops, the Class of 2020 is going to be darn near complete. Day and his staff will still be looking to add a few more prospects, and assuming things go as planned with the three looming decisions, cornerback and defensive line will likely be the remaining areas of need. 

Jeff Hafley already has a superb pair of corners in Lejond Cavazos and Clark Phillips III. It's hardly imperative to add a third, but with a few spots left to fill in the class, it would make sense to go after another touted corner; especially after not signing anyone at the position this past cycle.

There are few in-state options, but the most likely plan – at least in my opinion – would be to spend the next several months working on a few of the country's best. It could be an interesting race to the finish line because in this case the ones we'll be watching are all committed to other programs. 

We've talked plenty about the dream scenario, but adding five-star LSU commit Elias Ricks would be the best possible outcome here. Now set to attend IMG Academy with Cavazos – who's also a close friend – the Buckeye buzz will undoubtedly be in the ear of the nation's No. 2 corner. It's also worth noting that fellow LSU pledge and California native Jermaine Burton just announced that he too is headed to Bradenton. 

While Ricks has gotten most of the attention, Oklahoma commit Ryan Watts is absolutely a name to remember moving forward. A native of Little Elm, Texas, he's been a part of the Sooners' class since this past April. Watts is nearly 6-foot-3 and about 190 pounds, so he clearly is going to bring some size to any college secondary. He's already made a trip to Tuscaloosa this summer and we'll be watching to see if he shows up in Columbus at some point as well.

The South Florida recruiting game is always a game like no other, and sometimes I find myself feeling bad for Miami and other local programs that are annually subjected to that madness. It's tough to feel too bad for schools that regularly take advantage of that talent pool, however. 

The Buckeyes got burned by four-star cornerback Jordan Battle last December when the St. Thomas Aquinas defender flipped to Alabama. It was perhaps the biggest recruiting downfall stemming from Urban Meyer's retirement, and there probably wasn't anything Ryan Day could have done to salvage that one.

This time around Ohio State could be looking to flip a four-star cornerback who's currently pledged to the Hurricanes. Jaiden Francois has been committed to Miami since February, but the 6-foot, 184-pounder took a trip to Columbus in early June and there's reportedly still plenty of contact between the two parties. 

It would be a tough pull from Dade County, but Francois is planning officials to both Ohio State and Miami this fall before signing in December. There wasn't a whole lot of hoopla following last month's visit, but it continues to be a recruitment worth watching in the coming months.

Again, Ohio State is getting low on space for the 2020 class and there are other more pressing positions at the moment. With those expected to be addressed in the next few weeks, the staff is going to need to prioritize the remaining spots. 

Clark Phillips is a pure corner, but I think there could be some uncertainty around where Lejond Cavazos best projects. He's clearly athletic enough to play corner, but if the staff feels he can be an elite safety then who's going to argue with that one?

Either way, the departure of Damon Arnette and the expected departure of Jeffrey Okudah – combined with zero 2019 signees – make cornerback a lingering need. Jeff Hafley has already exceeded expectations on the recruiting trail. Flipping either one of the three 2020 corners would be yet another impressive feat. 

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