As we stand here on June 3, with almost exactly six months before the planned commitment date of Dec. 1 for five-star cornerback Tony Grimes, the Buckeyes sit as one of four teams still in the running for the nation’s No. 1 defensive back in the 2021 class.
Ohio State is officially up against Georgia, North Carolina and Texas A&M, as Grimes released a final four list on Sunday. Where the Buckeyes are ranked in that hierarchy of schools is probably closer to No. 4 than No. 1 right now, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that Grimes and his family have not been to Columbus in more than a year – ever since a visit in April of 2019 that left their family car in ruins after running into a deer.
This spring was going to see a potentially momentum-changing unofficial visit of three or four days from Grimes and his father, Deon Glover, but that has obviously been put on hold due to the extended recruiting dead period. In order for the Buckeyes to climb the list and become a better contender in Grimes’ recruitment, they will likely need to get a visit from the top-10 overall talent first.
“That’s our objective. Tony wants to get back there one more time,” Glover told Eleven Warriors. “We try to visit programs three or more times. In light of everything that’s going on around the nation, we have to take that into consideration and think, OK, maybe next time we go we just have to try and cram everything in that we need to know in that one visit.”
While Ohio State has gotten the same number of visits from Grimes that Georgia has received, the trip to Athens came much more recently (an impactful one that Glover raved about in mid-January) than the one to Columbus. A return to each program’s campus, however, is a priority for the Grimes family before they eventually go into decision mode.
“I’m not as pressed to get back to A&M and Carolina because we’ve been there three or four times,” Glover said. “I am pressed to get back to Ohio State and Georgia. We definitely wanna get back as soon as we can. Those are trips we’ve only been on once. And the sad thing about our trip to Ohio State is we had a deer accident. It was a crazy experience. We had to leave the car up there for three months and drive back.”
If a visit to Ohio State never happens again, it will be very difficult for the Buckeyes to make up for the deficit they have behind those other three programs. But as of right now, they remain in the running, and it’s entirely in the hands of Ohio State and those other three programs for which ones remain candidates throughout the process, according to Glover.
“We’re still in the evaluation process,” Glover said. “It’s no different than a college board, when you go into a war room and see their top three or four players and see a list of 10 or more players underneath. They’re still in the evaluation stage, and that board changes, based on the relationship that’s being built – based on the communication, based on how well we’ve developed our relationship over a period of time. … It’s based on a variety of different things for who moves a step up and who moves a step back. But we don’t determine that. The program will always determine that.
“Our job is not to give the school a cheat code of ‘If you want me, here’s what you need to do to get me.’ No, because we’re gonna recruit you the same way you’re gonna recruit us. If you’re not recruiting us like we’re recruiting you, then that tells us that we’re not as important to you as you are to us.”
When looking at the Ohio State angle, it starts at the top with Ryan Day – whom Glover calls “an elite guy at the top of the food chain” who “came out with both guns blazing” in his first season as a head coach. It includes all of the other offerings of the program that many high-level recruits have also referenced in the past – player development, setting up careers for life after football, great tradition, strong alumni base, academics.
And, of course, opportunities that will continue gaining notoriety over the next several months.
“Everybody’s using the name, image and likeness thing as a recruiting template, and I think Ohio State is ahead of the game,” Glover said. “With branding and things of that nature, Ohio State has been ahead of the game. They’re moving in the right direction, and I think their players will be more prepared than other programs because they’ve been doing it for so long, branding-wise.”
“I’m not as pressed to get back to (Texas) A&M and Carolina because we’ve been there three or four times. I am pressed to get back to Ohio State and Georgia. We definitely wanna get back as soon as we can. Those are trips we’ve only been on once.”– Deon Glover, Father of Ohio State target Tony Grimes
There are two other crucial factors in this recruitment from the Buckeyes’ end, coming in the form of the head recruiters not named Ryan Day:
1) Al Washington, who heads the Virginia area for the Buckeyes and has been recruiting Grimes for more than two years ever since his time as a Michigan assistant:
“We always talk to Coach Washington. That’s our guy. We talk to Coach Washington at least once a week,” Glover said. “When we talk, it’s not always recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. It’s how are things going? How’s your family? We can talk like real people. He doesn’t have to approach with a sell mentality of ‘I need to sell the program.’ We’re past that stage. It’s always good to be able to have somebody like that on your staff. He’s a great coach, but he’s an even better person.
“The good thing about it is I know there’s somebody there that I can trust with my son. If something is to jump off, he’s safe going to Coach Washington. And my nephew Teradja (Mitchell) is there.”
2) Kerry Coombs, who instantly made a good impression when he visited Princess Anne High School in January, coming in guns blazing and not lacking self-confidence with his Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights-esque approach: I’m the best there is, plain and simple.
“He said ‘I’m the best defensive backs coach in the country. That’s just how I feel, and I’m not gonna apologize for it,’” Glover said. “And no shame in it. I love that. … We want the best coach to prepare him to get him to where he needs to go – who understands what he needs and how he can get there.”
Again, the Buckeyes still appear to be behind the other three programs here and probably won’t be able to win out if they can’t get a visit from Grimes. When you only get one visit – one that happened more than a year ago – and the rest of the recruitment is done through phone calls, there’s only so much you can do. But all things considered, Ohio State sits in a decent place until that visit can happen.