Heat Check: Kerry Coombs Adds a Key Addition at Corner, Crimson Tide Gaining Ground in Race for Recruiting Crown

By Andrew Ellis on August 4, 2020 at 10:10 am
Kentucky tight end Jordan Dingle is one of the few remaining targets at the position.

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.

Ryan Day and the Buckeyes continue to chug right along through the pandemic and extended dead period. Ohio State's top-rated 2021 recruiting class added commitment No. 19 when Kerry Coombs stole one from Clemson in the form of four-star cornerback Jordan Hancock. The Georgia star – who just yesterday announced he will be sitting out his senior season – had long been Coombs' top target in the secondary. 

Our expectation is that Day and Co. will add another six commitments by the time all is said and done, but the lack of a camp circuit and high school football season (in some areas) does make things a bit tricky on the evaluation side. Meanwhile, programs across the country continue to wait for more news pertaining to campus visits, the early signing period, and any changes to the recruiting calendar as a whole. 

Despite being at the top of the national team rankings, Ryan Day obviously isn't sitting back and resting on his laurels. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tided added a whopping seven commitments in July, and two of those were of the five-star variety to help surge up the rankings. Ohio State still holds a 25-point lead over No. 2 Alabama, but the race for the recruiting crown is officially on.

J.T. TUIMOLOAU DL 1 1 ★★★★★ Washington•USC•Oregon•Alabama
TYWONE MALONE DT 2 2 ★★★★ Ole Miss•TAMU•Rutgers•FSU
EMEKA EGBUKA WR 3 3 ★★★★★ Oklahoma•Washington•Clemson
TRISTAN LEIGH OT 4 5 ★★★★★ Clemson•LSU•Oklahoma
JAGER BURTON OG 5 6 ★★★★ Kentucky•Alabama•Clemson
DERRICK DAVIS JR. SAF 6 7 ★★★★ Penn State•Clemson•LSU
RAESJON DAVIS LB 7 9 ★★★★ LSU Commit
JC LATHAM OT 8 8 ★★★★★ Alabama Commit
DEMEIOUN ROBINSON DE 9 10 ★★★★ Maryland Commit
JORDAN DINGLE TE 10 NA ★★★ Kentucky, Virginia Tech
TERRENCE RANKL OT 11 NA ★★★ Pittsburgh Commit

*Last month's edition can be found HERE. 

The nation's No. 2 prospect still tops our list, and we're basically just waiting until J.T. Tuimoloau can finally take some of his planned visits. I'm not buying any of the Oklahoma chatter but also wouldn't be surprised if he does make a trip to Norman at some point. For someone who's extremely keen on player development and the NFL Draft, one has to think Ohio State, Oregon, and Alabama would be far more appealing. The five-star is still planning on waiting until late in the process to announce his decision. We're still liking the good guys here. 

It's much of the same for New Jersey's Tywone Malone. The two-sport star doesn't say a whole lot, and the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented any one team from really taking over during the spring and summer months. The 6-foot-3.5, 300-pounder isn't looking to decide until December or January, and Larry Johnson will continue battling it out with the like of Texas A&M and Rutgers. As of right now, this recruitment still appears to be fairly wide open with baseball still a lingering factor. 

Coaches and staff aren't allowed to arrange any type of campus visits right now, but that hasn't stopped Oklahoma commits from creating a "Sooner Summit" visit weekend that's scheduled to go down in a few weeks in Norman. Does anyone honestly believe the OU staff has had nothing to do with this and it's been entirely spearheaded by five-star quarterback commit Caleb Williams? Of course not. But props to them for finding a loophole IF the event does in fact take place. 

Five-star wideout Emeka Egbuka continues to be the last real wide receiver target for Brian Hartline. His best relationship is with Ohio State's wide receivers coach and he's grown close with several 2021 Buckeye commits. Egbuka has also gotten close with Caleb Williams and has expressed his desire to make another round of visits before deciding. As of now, he's tentatively expected to be in Norman later this month for their little shindig. 

Is that a cause for concern? Not necessarily. But if he does go through with the trip, Hartline would probably prefer to get him back in Columbus (whenever that may be) before a decision goes down. It's worth noting that he's already been to Ohio State multiple times, so a return trip likely isn't some sort of requirement here. Egbuka has yet to visit Norman and we're still liking where the Buckeyes stand. 

Five-star offensive tackle Tristan Leigh revealed his top five last month, and it's going to be a battle between a bunch of heavy hitters for the Virginia native. There's still a long way to go here, but the consensus seems to be that LSU is positioned the best right now with the Buckeyes potentially as high as No. 2 on the list. The Fisher College of Business and fellow Virginian TreVeyon Henderson are boosting the Buckeyes' chances. Both Ohio State and LSU offered his younger brother – 2023 lineman Aidan Leigh – in late July.

Four-star Kentucky guard Jager Burton recently learned that he'll get to play his senior season after a bit of a delayed start. Not much has changed in his recruitment as we wait to see when and if he'll get to make his planned official visits. Kentucky and Ohio State are viewed as the top contenders, but it doesn't seem like Clemson and Alabama are far behind at all. This one still seems wide open and the visits – assuming they're able to take place – will tell the tale. 

Pennsylvania safety Derrick Davis Jr. is the top remaining target in the secondary as the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions look to fend off Clemson and the SEC. Matt Barnes is doing a fine job for Ohio State and I know some believe he may be out in front, but I personally would give a very slight edge to Penn State at the moment. The dead period has complicated things here, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see a decision within the next six weeks. I think the best relationships are in Happy Valley while Ohio State's defensive back production clearly speaks for itself.

A pair of SEC commits remain on the list, and at this point, I honestly think Raesjon Davis is more likely than JC Latham. There's no reason for confidence on either side, but Latham has been actively recruiting other tackles to Tuscaloosa, so it sure doesn't seem like depth or a crowded room is any sort of concern. For Davis, it's all going to be about the visits. We'll see if schools like Ohio State and USC are able to get him on campus this fall.

The state of Maryland recently announced that its high school football season will be moved to 2021. We'll see if that means anything for Terrapin defensive end commit Demeioun Robinson. He remains on our board at No. 9 due to Larry Johnson's fondness for the four-star pass-rusher, but there's really nothing to get excited about at this point in time.

So, we've removed Jordan Hancock from the board due to his commitment. California cornerback Jaylin Davies has also been scratched, though I do think the Buckeyes could keep the Oregon commit warm just in case something weird were to happen. The two new additions are a pair of three-stars that don't reside all that far from Columbus. 

I'm warming up to the idea of Kevin Wilson adding a second tight end in 2021. And I suppose it's worth noting that Kentucky's Jordan Dingle did receive an official offer when the staff sent them out on Saturday. Prior to that, many had questioned whether or not he was someone they'd accept a commitment from.

Dingle has visited Ohio State before and was set to make a return trip in March before everything shut down. Kentucky and Virginia Tech are among the favorites for the country's No. 18 tight end. Heading into his senior season, Dingle's career numbers include nearly 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. 

It's fairly uncommon for an in-state three-star to make our board. It's even more uncommon for one that doesn't even hold an offer. It's no secret that Greg Studrawa needs another tackle in this class. If Tristan Leigh isn't the guy, then they're going to have to look elsewhere, and it would likely be for more of a developmental prospect. Massillon Washington's Terrence Rankl has been committed to Pittsburgh since April, but I think he's firmly on the watchlist moving forward. 

There was a point in time when Thayer Munford was a three-star at the very same school. Now, he's set to be Ohio State's starting left tackle for a third-straight season. As for Rankl, this is surely a situation the Buckeyes would like to monitor over the next few months and perhaps an offer could come down the road. The tackle outlook is pretty bleak outside of Leigh. 

The Buckeyes are still the favorites to finish with the nation's top class. Ryan Day will need to keep the 19 he's currently got in the fold and add a few more from what's left on the 2021 board. We already know the dead period will last at least through the end of August, and at this point, I'd be surprised if official visits happen at all; at least not in the calendar year. 

We're still waiting for more information on the recruiting front and the season as a whole, but Ryan Day has given us plenty to be excited about during these dreary times. Now, he'll look to fend off Nick Saban as we head toward the home stretch for the Class of 2021.

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