When we first wrote about North Gwinnett (Ga.) cornerback Jordan Hancock extensively in mid-January, a major area of emphasis in one piece was the potential pairing of him and his good friend and teammate Barrett Carter at the next level.
“Our families are really close,” Hancock told Eleven Warriors at the time. “He’s like my best friend. Brother from another mother. We really talk about playing together all the time. We really wanna go to the same college as each other. That’s the plan. We don’t know if it’s gonna go through 100 percent, but we plan on doing that. But we don’t really know yet (where we’re going).”
There was a period when it looked like that could happen at Ohio State, but that idea was unofficially washed away on Tuesday evening. Carter, the No. 4-ranked outside linebacker in the country and a top-60 overall recruit, committed to Clemson, meaning Carter and Hancock will now be making that dream a reality once they officially sign their national letters of intent to Clemson.
At one point in time, Carter had major interest in Ohio State – he had the Buckeyes in his final four – with momentum for him to come to Columbus. And Hancock, the No. 7-ranked cornerback in America, was considered a fairly heavy Ohio State lean, too. Keeping in mind that they both had tremendous, genuine interest in teaming up at the same school, it felt like the Buckeyes had a real shot at pulling off the two-for-one here.
we told yall it was a package deal from the start! cant wait to wear the same jersey with my brother again https://t.co/K8pPVRSWct— jordan hancock (@jordanhancock_7) May 19, 2020
That has now fallen by the wayside, and now that Carter is off the board, there are two points to address:
1. It officially forces Ohio State to look elsewhere for a 2021 linebacker, but there is nothing currently too promising as it stands today. Smael Mondon is a major longshot to pull out of the South, and while there is some hope that Raesjon Davis can be flipped from LSU, that hope appears minimal until things open back up and he is able to visit again. As of now, it seems the Buckeyes’ best chances of putting a linebacker in the commit column in 2021 – at least from someone they have already offered to this point – would be if Jaylen Johnson or Derrick Davis Jr. ends up being moved to linebacker.
Even if the Buckeyes don’t land a linebacker in this cycle, I don’t see it as a problem. They have plenty of depth at the position, and I think linebacker is on the bottom row in the hierarchy of positional needs. Al Washington has plenty of time in the 2022 class to bring in three or four in the class, and there are a handful of extremely talented guys at the position whom Washington has already made major in-roads with, including commit C.J. Hicks at OLB/bullet, Gabe Powers at Sam linebacker/defensive end, Dasan McCullough at Sam and Justin Medlock at Will.
That’s still a very early look at what the Buckeyes’ 2022 linebacker haul could look like based off the players I think they have the most momentum with and best connections with right now. That evaluation process is miles from being complete, and linebacker is right up there with cornerback as a position that needs the camp and 7-on-7 circuits the most in order to put together a proper evaluation.
But once their high school careers are over, I believe that group would be able to compete, rankings-wise, with any other linebacker class in the country.
Hicks: No. 162 overall, No. 15 ATH, No. 3 Ohio
Powers: No. 43 overall, No. 4 OLB, No. 1 Ohio
McCullough: No. 73 overall, No. 8 ATH, No. 1 Kansas
Medlock: N/A overall, No. 8 ILB, No. 43 Texas
2. There was reasonable hope still vibrating that a Hancock flip from Clemson was still a possibility, despite decommitments and flips at Clemson being incredibly rare. Again, because of Hancock and Carter’s relationship and goal of playing in college together, that significantly lowers the percentage chance of that happening. So today, there is at least a better chance than there was yesterday that the Buckeyes move off their stance that they need a visit from California cornerback Jaylin Davies to accept his commitment.
As I said Sunday in the breakdown of Davies' final four, I believe Ohio State is very much in the driver’s seat in Davies’ recruitment, and I believe that if it decided it would accept a commitment from him without a visit, it wouldn’t be long before we saw Davies commit to the Buckeyes.
I believe that at least part of the reason they were not at a point where they would accept a commitment from him is because they were still waiting to see if they could flip Hancock. It’s quite possible Carter’s commitment changes that belief, making a Hancock flip an even bigger long shot and getting the wheels in motion further for Davies potentially landing in Columbus.