Four-star 2020 cornerback Clark Phillips III of La Habra (Calif.) High School has flipped his commitment from Ohio State to Utah, signing with the Pac 12 program on Thursday afternoon.
I sincerely appreciate everyone who recruited me throughout this process. It has been a blessing. Go Utes! pic.twitter.com/jIINUd1p5e— Clark Phillips III (@ClarkPhillips28) December 19, 2019
Phillips committed to the Buckeyes in June, giving Ohio State a commitment from a top-five cornerback in the 2020 class and a top-50 national prospect. Phillips was the fourth-highest ranked cornerback the Buckeyes would have landed in the last decade, but instead he becomes the highest-ranked recruit Utah has ever landed in the modern recruiting era.
But Buckeyes co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeff Hafley, who is largely responsible for the team's defensive turnaround and the defensive backs becoming an elite unit, took the Boston College head coach position last week. Hafley was the No. 1 reason Phillips originally committed to the Buckeyes. He was a Hafley guy through-and-through, becoming Hafley's top recruit on the board when he took over the secondary last offseason.
It's a crushing blow for the Buckeyes and their future at defensive back. Ohio State could be losing its entire starting secondary to graduation and the NFL Draft after this season, and Phillips' inclusion in the program meant an elite cornerback was coming to Columbus to headline the next wave of a special defensive backs class, along with safety Lathan Ransom.
Athlete Cameron Martinez, a safety prospect, is not yet officially coming to Ohio State, though. He is still committed to the Buckeyes, but he is waiting until the Feb. 5 National Signing Day to sign with a college program.
Even if all four players do sign with Ohio State, make no mistake, the biggest punch was just pulled from the Buckeyes' future secondary with Phillips' decision. He was going to have a strong change to compete for a starting spot, going up against Watts, Cavazos and current Buckeyes such as Cam Brown, Sevyn Banks, Amir Riep and Marcus Williamson.
The Buckeyes still have the nation's No. 3-ranked overall class in 2020 despite the loss of Phillips.
Utah, meanwhile, has vaulted itself up all the way from the No. 84-ranked class that it had on Tuesday to the No. 36-ranked overall class with the signings of Phillips and defensive ends Xavier Carlton and Van Fillinger.