Kerry Coombs' defensive back class is coming together nicely.
Heading into the 2021 recruiting cycle, it's fair to say that the Ohio State coaching staff had two major priorities. One of those has already been addressed as Tony Alford has re-established himself as an elite recruiter and changed the future of the Buckeye running back room all in a matter of a few weeks.
Jeff Hafley's departure led to four-star 2020 cornerback Clark Phillips III eventually flipping from Ohio State to Utah. His decision left the Buckeyes with three true defensive back signees and they'd later add another versatile athlete in Muskegon, Michigan's Cameron Martinez. The Michigan High School Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons, Martinez stuck with Ohio State in part due to the return of one Kerry Coombs.
Since his return a few months back, plenty of eyes have been on Coombs as he looks to add to a depleted defensive backfield. Thus far, he's needed very little time to get back into the swing of things on the trail. The Buckeyes are expected to sign anywhere from five to six defensive backs for the 2021 class, and things are already off to a roaring start.
Jakailin Johnson, Andre Turrentine, and Devonta Smith are already committed, which means Coombs likely has a pair of corners in Johnson and Smith along with some positional versatility in Turrentine. Cincinnati La Salle's Jaylen Johnson is another 2021 pledge, but for now we're thinking his future is likely at outside linebacker.
As things stand today, there are basically three defensive backs standing above the rest as realistic options to take those final two or three spots in the secondary.
Derrick Davis Jr. • Safety • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 44
Pennsylvania's Derrick Davis was in Columbus back in February and had plans to make multiple return trips before the sports world ended up shutting down. Some family ties in Ohio may prove to beneficial here as well. A top target of Penn State and Clemson's, he's 6-foot-1 and 194 pounds and is another prospect who could add another 20+ pounds and potentially move down to linebacker.
There seem to be some conflicting reports as to just how the Ohio State staff views the country's second-ranked safety and how he projects, but his film certainly shows someone who appears to have the speed and range to play in the secondary. Davis ran a 4.64 forty back in 2019, and while that's far from a blazing time, it's pretty darn good for a then-sophomore defensive back.
Kamar Wilcoxson • Athlete • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 263
Things have been heating up between the Buckeyes and the recent Florida decommit, but one has to wonder if the staff would prefer to get Kamar Wilcoxson on campus before any sort of decision is made. Personally, I get the feeling this is going to be one of the more interesting recruitments to follow as the four-star Georgia native turned IMG Academy defender hasn't been shy about his interest in Ohio State.
Wilcoxson's highlight tape shows him playing a lot of high safety last year at IMG Academy, but that doesn't mean he couldn't play corner at the next level. The Ascenders had both Lejond Cavazos and five-star Elias Ricks at corner in 2019, so it will be interesting to see Wilcoxson's role in 2020. Alabama and other programs are in the mix here, but the Buckeyes appear to be out in front for the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder.
Jantzen Dunn • Athlete • ★★★★ • Nat. Rank: No. 318
Bowling Green, Kentucky athlete Jantzen Dunn is another player who has the size and length to play corner or safety. A four-star who checks in at 6-foot-2 and 178 pounds, his recruitment has been on the rise with offers from Ohio State, Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, and Oklahoma.
The Buckeyes and Sooners appear to be the frontrunners at the moment with Louisville serving as a dark horse. Ohio State was fortunate enough to get Dunn on campus in early March. Prior to that, Oklahoma may have had the edge, but it sure seems like Kerry Coombs and Matt Barnes are now out in front for the third-ranked prospect in Kentucky.
Dunn's highlights show a long athlete who excels on both sides of the ball. He's also put up some impressive testing numbers with a 4.54 laser-timed 40, a 40.8-inch vertical, a broad jump of over 10 feet, and a long-jump of over 22 feet.
We haven't even hit the month of April yet and COVID-19 currently has everything on hold. Once things get back to normal, there are a few other names to really watch out for as the Buckeyes look to put the finishing touches on the secondary.
Touted prospects like five-star Tony Grimes and California's Jaylin Davies are both options, but there's a lot of work to do on both fronts. Grimes was expected to take a lengthy visit to Ohio State this spring, but those plans have obviously changed and Georgia looks to be on top. Davies' recruitment has a long way to go, but the Buckeyes are among his top seven as Ryan Day looks for more success along the West Coast.
Kerry Coombs has talked a lot about bringing in versatile defenders and finding out where they best fit. He's got plenty of options to fill the remaining spots in the secondary even if FaceTime and text messaging are taking the place of what should have been a busy spring.