After nearly three years of being one of the most heavily recruited defensive back prospects in the country, Derrick Davis Jr. has finally made a decision.
Davis, the nation's No. 2 safety and No. 53 overall player out of Pittsburgh's Gateway High School, has committed to LSU, choosing the Tigers over Ohio State and Penn State.
For several months and in the days leading up to his announcement on Saturday, most believed this was coming down to a battle between the two Big Ten schools. But after his visit to Columbus for the Buckeye Bash – a visit that had some of Ohio State's 2021 commits feeling good about their chances with Davis and had the safety prospect himself feeling comfortable with the Buckeyes – Davis and his family traveled to Baton Rouge for a visit the following weekend.
That visit helped open up Davis' eyes to LSU's program, and he told Rivals' Adam Friedman that it had made a major impact on him:
“LSU really separated from Ohio State and Penn State with their diversity,” Davis said. “Culturally, there are just so many different people. That was just great. I feel like I fit in perfectly. Even though I don't know many of the commits, I just feel like the coaching staff made me feel comfortable even though they couldn't even see me.”
Davis will now pair with five-star prospect Sage Ryan, the nation's No. 1 safety in the 2021 cycle who committed to LSU last Saturday. Davis told Friedman that a pairing with Ryan was also enticing:
“To me, that means LSU has a chance of getting a really good one-two punch (with me and him),” he said. “I don't really know him. Everywhere pretty much has a lot of defensive back and safety commits. You never know who but some guys that say they play safety might turn into outside linebackers.”
As for Penn State, James Franklin and Co. have now suffered a crushing blow on the recruiting trail, as they have now lost out on nine of Pennsylvania's top-10 prospects in the 2021 class, and they are likely to lose all 10 with Elijah Jeudy projected to land in the SEC.
As for the Ohio State side of the equation, one factor at play was the six defensive backs the Buckeyes already have committed in the class. While Davis was emphatic that being a seventh defensive back in that class was not playing a factor in his decision, that doesn't mean all of Ohio State's 2021 defensive back commits felt the same way.
That is perhaps the biggest factor at play here, with the Buckeyes wanting to keep their six-man haul intact after taking commitments from them much earlier in the process while Davis waited things out for nearly three years after Ohio State's initial offer in February of 2018.
Though Davis is a fantastic talent, he still would have been a cherry on top for Ohio State's class, as the Buckeyes' defensive backs situation – and specifically the safety/bullet spot that Davis told us multiple times they were recruiting him to play – is still looking very bright.
Kourt Williams and Lathan Ransom are already locked in from the 2020 class, while Jantzen Dunn, Andre Turrentine (who was recruited as a cover safety/slot corner), Jaylen Johnson and perhaps Denzel Burke (who is more of a corner prospect) fill out the 2021 cycle in terms of potential safeties, and Ohio State has its eyes set on Xavier Nwankpa as its top safety target in the 2022 class.