The Hurry Up: Andrew Moore Accepts PWO Offer, Adding Some Depth to an Ohio State Defensive Backs Room Filled With Future Question Marks

By Zack Carpenter on October 21, 2019 at 6:50 pm
Andrew Moore
Andrew Moore

The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Moore accepts PWO offer

On Sept. 30, 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback Andrew Moore out of Cleveland Heights High School picked up a preferred walk-on offer from Ohio State. 

It didn’t take Moore long to decide the offer was something he couldn’t pass up, and on Sunday the senior announced via Twitter that he committed to the Buckeyes on a special day for he and his family. 

“This whole moment is just so surreal for me,” Moore told Eleven Warriors. “Like I said before, I grew up in an Ohio State family so this was something I wanted to do at a young age. This decision is for the best for me as a person and for my family as well. And as this was my dad’s birthday, it also means more to me.”

Moore took an unofficial visit to Columbus the week after receiving his offer. After seeing the practice facilities and seeing how Jeff Hafley, Ryan Day and the rest of the coaches handle the team, he knew this was the place for him.

“I’m just very excited. Can’t wait to become a Buckeye,” said Moore, noting he’s eager to be reunited in college with his sister who attends Ohio State. “The coaches are the best in the country, and I can’t wait to learn and be taught by the best.”

Defensive back question marks

Moore is, of course, not one of the higher-profile defensive backs who will be coming into a pretty loaded 2020 group, but Moore will bring solid depth to the position group and will have opportunities to become a special teams contributor when he steps on campus. 

The Buckeyes are bringing in one of the country’s best corners, Clark Phillips III, along with a plethora of talent in one of the country’s best defensive backs hauls in fellow corners Lejond Cavazos and Ryan Watts III, plus Lathan Ransom and Cameron Martinez as safety prospects. 

When looking to the future, the secondary is by far the biggest question mark moving forward for the Buckeyes defense because of the attrition expected to take place. Jeff Okudah is moving toward lock status of becoming a top-10 NFL Draft pick next spring, Shaun Wade is continuing to improve his draft stock weekly, and Damon Arnette and Jordan Fuller are in their final year of eligibility before they move on to the pros.

That leaves Jeff Hafley with what everyone is 99.9 percent sure will be three new starters to replace and a very good possibility they will have four starters to replace depending on Wade’s decision.

Hafley has plenty on his plate with his task of continuing to improve what is a loaded secondary right now. But he can’t deny his mind sometimes does look to what the 2020 defensive backs room will look like.

“You have to think about the future or else I would be lying to you,” Hafley said. “You have to prepare for that.”

One of the Buckeyes’ biggest preparations has been recruiting at defensive back so strongly and making the position one of its biggest priorities. That’s why they pushed so relentlessly for Watts, and it’s why they are going after the nation’s No. 1 corner in 2021, Tony Grimes, and have a pretty solid shot at this stage of landing him. Grimes and his family are very high on Ohio State, and the Buckeyes figure to be one of the final teams among his options on the day he decides to commit.

And because Ohio State knows it needs to replenish the defensive backs, and because there will be so many opportunities for guys to prove themselves, don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes’ DB recruitment isn’t quite done for 2020. They’ll still hold a spot for an unlikely Elias Ricks flip, and they are set to host Jaiden Francois for an official visit for the Penn State game. 

“I tell them all the time, ‘Go challenge Jeff Okudah. Go challenge Shaun Wade. Go try to take their job.”– Jeff Hafley on getting his backup cornerbacks to compete

Whoever the Buckeyes end up bringing to the roster, whether they stop at five – plus Moore – for 2020 or add another, each one is going to need to be prepared to come in and either earn a starting job or show enough to warrant early playing time in one of the most difficult positions to excel at right away when moving from one level of football to the next.

“I mean, you’d like them to be game ready,” Hafley said. “I just think that’s hard, especially if you just use corner for example. I think it’s a hard position to come in and be ready to play. There are exceptions, but it’s a big jump from high school to college.  You’d like every guy you recruit to be ready. I just think when you get them and you see how are they gonna react to the speed of the game, how are they gonna react to the rule changes and some of the different coverages. I think there’s so much unknown.

“It’s like in the NFL, is a rookie really ready to step in and cover Julio Jones? Not everyone is. Even when you draft a guy in the first round, he may not be able to play right away and some of those guys get forced to play right away too early. Every situation is different, but we’ll see when those guys get here.”

Plenty of DB talent already in the room

It’s likely that at least one or two of the 2020 defensive backs will have to step in right away, but it’s not set in stone. That’s because – despite this “the sky is falling in the defensive backs room” feeling you’re probably getting from this Hurry Up writing – the Buckeyes still have talent at the position. It’s just largely unproven. 

That’s why Ohio State mopping up its first seven opponents has meant more than just earning a brighter spotlight in the eyes of national analysts and cementing itself as a national title contender. 

It’s also giving backups at several positions the opportunity at putting themselves on film in live action and showing if they’re capable. Since we’re talking about defensive backs at length today, take this group, for example, on Friday night when Cam Brown, Sevyn Banks, Amir Riep, Marcus Williamson and Josh Proctor played almost the entire fourth quarter against Northwestern. 

All five were four-star prospects out of high school (Brown as a wide receiver) and can play – Brown showed promise against Michigan State, and Riep collected his second career interception on Friday.

There’s plenty of pride in that room, and because of the starting defense’s dominance in the first three quarters in six of the first seven games, there’s experience now there, too. 

It’s translating from the practice field to the game field.

“I think the way we coach our young guys every day and how hard we are on them and how demanding we are of them I think that’s preparing us for that because we have really good football players in that room besides the guys that play,” Hafley said. “And I wish more guys could play so everybody could see that right now, but they haven’t. Maybe you’ll see that down the road.

“The way we prepare our guys in the room right now, that’s the most important part. Those guys are getting coached hard, and in the meeting room, it’s the same thing. That’s what we have control of right now is can we develop those guys to be ready when it’s their time because we don’t want them to wait. I tell them all the time, ‘Go challenge Jeff Okudah. Go challenge Shaun Wade. Go try to take their job. Do the best you can. That’s what we have to do as coaches and what we have to do as players. That’s what we worry about right now, and when we get the next group in here, then we’ve gotta start worrying about them.”

Gibbs announces Alabama offer

Jahmyr Gibbs visited Alabama this weekend and on Saturday announced on Twitter he received an offer from the Crimson Tide. 

Like I talked about a little yesterday, I loved Ohio State's chances of flipping the now-four-star 2020 running back from Georgia Tech. 

I still like their chances, but if Gibbs does love Alabama as much as he says – and there's zero reason to believe otherwise – the Buckeyes' chances are not quite as bright as they were at this time last week. 

Buckeyes in Stellato's Top 12; Smith-Njigba keeps ascending

Ohio State's recruitment of 2021 slot receiver Troy Stellato went up a tick in optimism this weekend, as Stellato announced the Buckeyes are in his final top 12. 

That's not even remotely a surprise, especially given Ohio State is largely responsible for starting the domino effect of Stellato's offer sheet. But it's still noteworthy. 

In other receiver news, Jaxon Smith-Njigba continues to assert himself as one of the best receivers in the state of Texas. The senior Buckeyes commit on Friday hauled in nine catches for 153 yards and four touchdowns, setting the Texas state Class 6A career receiving yards record with 4,302 yards.

He has 242 receptions and 48 touchdowns in his career as well.

He's seventh all-time in the state's career receiving yards mark regardless of classification (trailing Jordan Shipley's 5,424 yards from 2000-2003) and trails Jake Oliver (4,567 from 2009-2012) for the most career receiving yards for a Dallas-area player.

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