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.
Good news on DB front?
If you just began reading Eleven Warriors’ recruiting content and Hurry-Up articles for the first time on Wednesday, maybe you think the only position we care about updating you guys on is the offensive line.
Not true, but, hell, it’s critically important for the Buckeyes moving forward and worth spending plenty of time on.
But the two most important sports, in my opinion, for Ohio State’s 2021 recruiting class to hit on are the two Martin asks about here.
I’ve name dropped some of the higher-ranked players in this junior defensive backs class who the Buckeyes are charging after, including Tony Grimes, Jakailin Johnson and Avante Dickerson at cornerback. And for those asking about safety A.J. Kirk, the Dublin Coffman product was rumored to be a shoo-in as an Ohio State commit in the summer and early fall, the recruitment of Kirk – the brother of former Buckeye safety Mike Doss – has been quiet since the season began.
But one name who I haven’t talked about much is Jordan Hancock, a rising top-25 cornerback out of North Gwinnett High School in northern Georgia, less than an hour’s drive from Atlanta.
Hancock, who last week picked up a Crystal Ball prediction to Ohio State from 247Sports Director of Recruiting Steve Wiltfong, is a four-star prospect and ranked barely inside the top 300 overall and barely outside the top 25 in his own state.
“When I went up there, they just showed me a lot of love. It was the best visit that I took."– 2021 CB Jordan Hancock Regarding his Ohio State visit
Despite the modest rankings, Hancock has emerged as a player the Buckeyes really want in their 2021 defensive backs haul. The 6-foot, 170-pound corner has drawn their interest with his tremendous ball skills, consistent tackling ability, fluid hip movement and polished footwork. Off the field, he's a good, smart kid with an innate aptitude for schoolwork like physics and one who isn’t afraid to seek out some tutoring for algebra (and, speaking from personal experience in being subpar to passable in both subjects, I consider that quite impressive).
“(The coaches) really like me,” Hancock told Eleven Warriors. “They really want me to become a Buckeye. That’s why I really like those guys, and their history of their DBs.”
Those guys are Ryan Day, Al Washington and Matt Barnes – the three coaches handling his recruitment with the departure of Jeff Hafley to Boston College. Hancock is another Buckeye recruit getting a heavy dose of attention from the Ohio State coaches, and it’s led by that triumvirate.
Hancock says he talks to those coaches “almost every day” through text and phone conversations, including a 10-minute conversation with Day on Thursday about life and school. He has spoken at length with, in his estimation, 10 coaches from Ohio State over the last few months.
That began back in September when Jason Kwon – a former Buckeyes player personnel assistant coach dedicated to recruiting who recently left to join Hafley at Boston College – sent him a direct message on Instagram to get the ball rolling, and soon he was developing a strong comfort with Kwon and Hafley.
“Me and Coach Kwon developed a really, really good relationship,” Hancock said. “I can text him at any time, and he can text me at any time. But now he’s at Boston College so that’s another person (at BC). Me and Coach Hafley have a really good relationship. When I went up there, we talked for like an hour about football. If I didn’t have to leave, we would’ve been talking for even longer. But he’s at Boston College now.”
Hancock says he was sad to see Hafley and Kwon leave for Ohio State after the development of those relationships, but he’s understanding that “at the end of the day, I know it’s a business” and said it doesn’t really have any sort of impact on how he views Ohio State.
Ever since he took his first and only visit to Columbus – an unofficial to the Buckeyes’ win over Wisconsin on Oct. 26 – his perception of the program has only grown. He had long viewed Ohio State as a legitimate option for his future, long before the Buckeyes offered him the day after the Wisconsin game.
“How hard they recruit me (is a big factor),” Hancock said. “When I went up there, they just showed me a lot of love. It was the best visit that I took."
Soon after, the nation's other top programs came calling, too. Alabama and Auburn offered, his hometown Georgia Bulldogs did so in mid-December, and Oklahoma and Clemson offered just last week.
He plans to visit Georgia on Jan. 18, Georgia Tech on Jan. 25 and Alabama on Feb. 1, but a visit to Ohio State will take a little longer due to setting up future travel arrangements for him and his family.
“We’re visiting in the spring, but I think we wanna visit in the winter, too,” Hancock said. “But I think that’s too close of a window. If we visit in the winter, great, but we don’t really know because I have to get a plane ticket and all that. We will be up there in the spring and the summer.”
Hancock says he already has an idea of where he will take his official visits and that he has a top 10 list of his favorite schools, but he’s keeping both of those pieces of information close to the chest for now. He says he won’t be releasing that list but that he plans to release a top-five list sometime in the summer before making a commitment before his senior season begins.
It’s possible that both Clemson and Ohio State – which began ramping up its recruitment of Hancock even further after Hancock announced his Clemson offer on Tuesday – will find their way onto that list.
One of the factors pulling Hancock toward the Buckeyes is their big need to replenish the defensive backfield this year and next.
“It’s a really big pull. It plays a huge factor,” Hancock said. “They’ve talked to me about Sevyn (Banks), how he’s gonna be a senior when I come. Shaun (Wade) is gonna be gone, and they signed two corners – Clark (Phillips) decommitted. Ryan (Watts III) and Lejond (Cavazos) are both coming in, and they really need me.”
Hancock added that the Ohio State coaches have talked to him about replacing Hafley, but they haven’t specified who it will be. Hancock is aware, however, that Kerry Coombs’ name has been floating around plenty as the potential replacement. He says he isn’t that familiar with Coombs other than that he is a former Ohio State coach and a current coach for the Tennessee Titans.
RB situation looking solid
As for the running backs, in keeping my ears to the grindstone, I’m hearing good news there, and Ohio State is certainly aware of the position’s importance after missing out in the 2020 cycle and having to do a bit of a scramble drill late in the process to land Miyan Williams (and the Buckeyes aren’t done as they continue a Jahmyr Gibbs recruitment.)
The Buckeyes have dished out offers to nine running backs in this class, and I have a feeling one of them will commit to Ohio State sometime in the spring or summer.
The recruitment of Corey Kiner and Donovan Edwards – the highest priority at RB and easily a top-five priority in this class regardless of position – continues shaping up as a two-race war between Ohio State and Michigan.
Evan Pryor, who is high on Ohio State, tweeted that he’s down to a top five, and I believe Georgia, Ohio State and Penn State to be the three highest frontrunners there, although Oklahoma entered the fold with an offer last week.
Down to 5 ..— Evan Pryor (@evanpryor3) January 6, 2020
Lovasea Carroll is thickly in the frame here as well, as the former South Carolina commit has said previously that he wants to visit Ohio State in the summer. The Buckeyes also just recently offered one of the best running backs in the state of Texas, LJ Johnson Jr.
Don’t be surprised if Ohio State lands one of those players, and there is also a shot – albeit very much an outside shot at this point – in Will Shipley’s recruitment, as Clemson and Notre Dame are starting to emerge as frontrunners there.
Running back recruiting is shaping up to be the most intriguing position in the upcoming class, just like it has been for the 2020 class – along with the recruitment of two quarterbacks in 2020 – so stay tuned.