Ohio State has landed another big fish for its 2021 class, pulling four-star North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School cornerback Jordan Hancock away from Clemson.
Let's take a look at what Hancock's commitment brings to the Buckeyes:
On the field
In Hancock, ranked No. 76 overall and No. 6 at cornerback in the 2021 class, Kerry Coombs and Ryan Day have stolen a player from Dabo Swinney and Clemson who could develop into Ohio State's next great cornerback and has the ceiling to be a future first-round NFL draft pick.
Hancock is one of the best cover corners in the 2021 class, and he also provides the positional versatility Coombs and the Buckeyes crave as they look to get more versatile and situational in their coverages.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Hancock told Eleven Warriors previously that the Buckeyes were interested in him because of his tremendous ball skills, consistent tackling ability, fluid hip movement and polished footwork – abilities that helped him amass two interceptions and 12 pass breakups in Georgia's Class 7A, the state's highest classification, while helping lead North Gwinnett to a 12-2 season and a state semifinals appearance in 2019.
247Sports national recruiting analyst Charles Power compared Hancock to Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy and projected Hancock as a second- or third-round NFL draft pick in his February analysis of the young corner:
Thin build and should add some size once he gets to college. Turned in a stellar junior season against some of the nation's toughest competition in Georgia's highest classification. Has a pure cover corner skill set with the ability to flip his hip and change direction quickly. Shows high-level ball skills as he locates and tracks the ball downfield. Closes quickly in defending the quick game. Instinctive and versatile with the ability to play multiple spots within the secondary. Doesn't shy away from contact and looks to b a willing tackler. Projects as a multi-year starter in the secondary at the Power Five level with the upside of developing into an early round NFL Draft pick.
Off the field
Part of the reason Hancock rose from being ranked just barely inside the top 300 overall and No. 24 at cornerback all the way into the top 80 overall and top 8 at cornerback was because of his work ethic and drive.
By all accounts, Hancock is a good, smart kid with an innate aptitude for schoolwork like physics (his favorite subject), and he's one who isn’t afraid to seek out some voluntary tutoring for algebra during his lunch breaks at North Gwinnett. That's just a tiny snippet into who Hancock is off the field, which is another one of the reasons he told us he is being recruited by Ohio State.
Hancock maintains great relationships with many of the Buckeyes' 2021 commits, including Evan Pryor, Ben Christman, Jaylen Johnson and TreVeyon Henderson, to name a few. Those relationships were instrumental in getting Hancock to flip from Clemson, notably his relationship with Henderson who has emerged as possibly the Buckeyes' best lead recruiter in the class.
Hancock will be the latest defensive star from Suwanee, Ga., to join Ohio State, following in the footsteps of Cameron Heyward and Bradley Roby.
In the class
The Buckeyes are now in position to do that in the 2021 class with four-star St. Louis cornerback Jakailin Johnson (No. 43 overall; No. 4 CB) and Hancock (No. 76; No. 6 CB) as the two gems of the best defensive backs haul in the nation's 2021 class. Since 2002, Johnson is Ohio State's seventh-highest-ranked cornerback commit, and Hancock is the 13th-highest-ranked.
The common denominator in the recruitment of all four of those cornerbacks is Coombs, who took over for Jeff Hafley – the former Buckeye assistant who made a massive impression during Hancock's recruitment last fall before Hancock blew up on a national level – and was paired in Hancock's recruitment with a big helping hand from Day and that large contingent of Ohio State's 2021 commits.
What a time to be alive— JK Johnson (@jakailin6) July 15, 2020
Johnson and Hancock will team up with safety/slot cornerback Andre Turrentine (No. 139; No. 4 safety), cornerback Denzel Burke (No. 178; No. 7 athlete), Jantzen Dunn (No. 202; No. 11 safety) and Jaylen Johnson (No. 351; No. 24 safety), who is likely transition to outside linebacker or the bullet, in a class of six defensive backs.
Ohio State will probably have the nation's best secondary haul even if it doesn't land another defensive back, but there is still another major target who remains on the board in four-star Gateway (Pa.) High School safety Derrick Davis Jr.
Davis released his top 7 on July 12, which has Ohio State competing against Penn State, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Pittsburgh and USC.
Most people, us included, believe Davis' recruitment will continue to be an Ohio State-Penn State battle for Pennsylvania's fourth-ranked player. Based on those I've spoken with close to Davis' recruitment, I do not expect a decision until at least September or October at the earliest.
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Hancock's commitment to Ohio State could also bring the Buckeyes' recruitment of four-star linebacker Barrett Carter, Hancock's teammate at North Gwinnett, back into play.
Hancock and Carter, who was the Buckeyes' top linebacker target in the class before he committed to Clemson in May, have been making plans to play together in college for a long time and appeared set to make that happen before Hancock's decommitment from Clemson.
“Our families are really close,” Hancock told Eleven Warriors in January. “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).”
Ohio State still holds the No. 1 overall ranking (305.37 points) for the recruiting class of 2021 by a wide margin in front of No. 2 North Carolina (261.90) and the No. 1 ranking in average player rating (94.93). The class includes the most top-100 players (12) in the nation by a vast margin.
The Buckeyes' 19-man haul in 2021 already ranks third-best on the school's all-time recruiting class list, just ahead of the 2013 class (303.45) and behind the 2017 class (312.14). Their 2018 class (317.06) remains No. 1 in program history and No. 7 all-time.
When we have talked about Ohio State's 2021 class potentially becoming the highest-rated recruiting class of the the modern recruiting era, most of those discussions have not involved Hancock being a part of the class.
But with Hancock now in the fold, the Buckeyes' chances of grabbing that title from the 2010 Florida Gators (324.62 points with 28 signees) increase pretty substantially with priority targets such as J.T. Tuimoloau, Emeka Egbuka, Tywone Malone and Davis still on the board. Landing all four would give the Buckeyes a score of 325.08 points.
As for Clemson, the Tigers have now slipped to No. 9 in the class rankings. Clemson had only lost one commit since 2016, but it has now had two in the past four months following the decommitments of Hancock and five-star defensive end Korey Foreman.