Heat Check: Our Recruiting Board Gets a Needed Update Following a Trio of New 2021 Commitments

By Andrew Ellis on February 4, 2020 at 10:10 am
Four-star tailback Evan Pryor is one of Tony Alford's priority targets.

Recruiting is all about comfort and relationships. Sometimes you're gaining momentum on the trail, sometimes you're losing it. How are some of Ohio State's key prospects trending? Let's take a look.

February has arrived and we're now entering the dreaded football dead period. College programs are focusing on finishing up the 2020 class and looking ahead to 2021. The NFL season reached its conclusion on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs were victorious over the 49ers in spite of the usual superb play from Nick Bosa.

If we turned back the clock about five years, we'd all be watching the 2020 class as the prospects would be signing their letters of intent tomorrow. The early signing period has drastically changed the process, however, and Ryan Day already has 24 signees in the fold. That number will reach 25 tomorrow when Cam Martinez makes things official. Not a whole lot of drama this time around. 

We unveiled our first 2021 recruiting board back on Jan. 2, and the Buckeyes have added three new commitments since that time. The additions include Cincinnati safety/linebacker Jaylen Johnson, Texas guard Donovan Jackson, and most recently Streetsboro defensive tackle Mike Hall

Clemson's big junior day weekend briefly gave the Tigers the top spot in the 2021 team rankings, but the Buckeyes are now back at No. 1. The trio of new commitments and some other activity throughout the country lead to some changes to our recruiting board. 

JAKAILIN JOHNSON CB 1 5 ★★★★ Notre Dame•Georgia•Oklahoma
DONOVAN EDWARDS RB 2 2 ★★★★ Michigan•Georgia•ND•LSU
EVAN PRYOR RB 3 3 ★★★★ Penn State•Georgia•LSU
TONY GRIMES CB 4 1 ★★★★★ Clemson•Georgia•PSU•TAMU
TUNMISE ADELEYE DE 5 10 ★★★★★ Alabama•Oklahoma•TAMU
COREY KINER RB 6 7 ★★★★ Michigan•Notre Dame•PSU
CAMAR WHEATON RB 7 NA ★★★★★ Bama•LSU•Oklahoma•Texas
J.C. LATHAM OT 8 8 ★★★★ LSU•Michigan•Miami•FSU
J.T. TUIMOLOAU DL 9 NA ★★★★★ Washington•Alabama•USC
DERRICK DAVIS JR. SAF 10 NA ★★★★ Clemson•Penn State•ND
TROY STELLATO WR 11 NA ★★★★ Clemson

*Last month's edition can be found HERE. 

We've flip-flopped the cornerback targets on our board as St. Louis' Jakailin Johnson is now sitting at No. 1. The Kerry Coombs hire appears to be a pretty big deal for the nation's No. 5 corner and I can see Ohio State potentially adding him to the 2021 class in the not-so-distant future. That would certainly be a fine starting point for the secondary reload. 

As for five-star Virginia corner Tony Grimes, it sure feels like it's going to take some time for Coombs and the Buckeyes to really get into the mix. The good news is that he doesn't appear to be close to a decision. The bad news? The country's No. 1 corner rarely seems to be mentioning Ohio state of late. We'll see how things progress here, but Georgia and Penn State are both big-time concerns. 

Derrick Davis Jr. is a new addition at No. 10 on the board as we had been waiting to get a feel for just who the priorities are at safety. The Buckeyes hosted a trio of visitors last weekend, and all three are top-of-the-board type of prospects. Jack Sawyer was in town and the five-star commit is perhaps the best player in the country. Mike Hall was on campus shortly before making his intentions known. Davis added some out-of-state flavor to the weekend that was. 

Though Cincinnati's Jaylen Johnson may be listed as a safety, the Buckeye commit seems to be a candidate for the bullet/outside linebacker role. That means that safety is unquestionably still a big need for 2021. Derrick Davis Jr. hails from the Pittsburgh suburb of Monroeville, and Ohio State is going to have to battle it out with Clemson and Penn State for the nation's No. 2 safety. Getting him on campus last weekend was a promising sign. 

When I was a child, my nightmares usually involved peering down and seeing a clown in my bottom bunk bed. If Tony Alford were to wake up in the middle of the night with chills and a cold sweat, this is probably what he'd be seeing:

We've got some changes at running back, but nothing has changed at the top with the position. Donovan Edwards and Evan Pryor hold steady at No. 2 and No. 3 on our board, and the duo is fresh of unofficial visits to Athens, which is always a concern. Michigan, Ohio State, and Georgia appear to be the frontrunners for Edwards. The Buckeyes, Nittany Lions, and Bulldogs are among the favorites for Pryor. 

Edwards has already made numerous trips to Columbus and Pryor is planning a pair of return trips in the spring and summer. It's still looking like an Ohio State/Michigan battle for Corey Kiner, and he's moved up a spot to No. 6. The nation's top back – Texas' Camar Wheaton – makes his debut at No. 7, but it's going to be a very tough pull for the five-star who says very little about the recruiting process.

There are about six or seven targets on the running back board, and Tony Alford needs to deliver in a big way for the 2021 class. All-purpose back Will Shipley would be a tremendous addition, but he's been removed from our board since that one's really looking like a Clemson vs. Notre Dame battle. I continue to really like where things stand for the Buckeyes and Evan Pryor.

Sticking with the skill positions, wide receiver Beaux Collins is off the board following his commitment to Clemson. There are really two primary wide receiver targets out there with Florida's Troy Stellato and five-star Washington athlete Emeka Egbuka. The odds seem far better for Stellato and he's on the board at No. 11 even though it's not the biggest position of need. It should be an Ohio State/Clemson battle for the Fort Lauderdale star while Egbuka is entertaining offers from Washington and a number of national powers.

Greg Studrawa is off to a heck of a nice start with Ben Christman and Donovan Jackson. Ohio State will look to add at least another two in the trenches and the tackle spot remains the biggest priority. IMG Academy's J.C. Latham remains at No. 8, but I wouldn't sleep on LSU in this race. Still, the consensus seems to be that the Wisconsin native will end up in the Midwest for college; likely in Columbus. 

The Mike Hall commitment was a nice bit of good news for Larry Johnson and the defensive line, and now the Buckeyes will focus on adding another three or four. Defensive end Tunmise Adeleye seems to be focusing on Ohio State, Alabama, and Texas A&M as the five-star edge rusher is on track for an Aug. 1 decision. The pro-Buckeye social media is all fine and good, but I'm led to believe there's plenty of reason for optimism beyond just the Twitter antics. 

We've also got a new addition of the five-star variety in Washington's J.T. Tuimoloau. The defensive line prospect is the country's No. 4 overall prospect, and Ohio State is likely going to be a factor all the way until the end.

A former teammate of Gee Scott Jr., Tuimoloau is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound prospect who's been playing on the edge in high school but seems destined to move inside. Most have the Huskies pegged as the favorites, but I get the feeling this is a battle the Buckeyes may be able to win.

Overall, it was a nice month for Ryan Day and his staff. Watching two other programs square off for the national title is never fun, but the 2020 class is one of the best in the country and the Coombs addition helped the Buckeyes hold on to Cameron Martinez. But it's now full speed ahead to the 2020 season and the 2021 recruiting class. 

We'll be living in a world without football up until the April 11 spring game, but if NFL Draft coverage is your thing, then you're sure to enjoy the next few months. Lord help us all. 

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