Ohio State is one step closer to filling its 2022 void in the defensive backfield.
Here's what Stokes gives the program as it lands its first commitment since February:
On the field
Stokes does not yet have an overall ranking in his recruiting class, and he does not have a composite rating. But don't let those numbers fool you.
After having copped a personal-best time of 10.80 seconds in the 100-yard dash at a track meet last month, the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder caught the attention of many blueblood programs across the country. An influx of top-tier offers came Stokes' way over a one-week span, and much of that came after a re-evaluation of his junior tape.
He flashes track speed in the open field, and he can cover ground in a hurry. That's the type of athlete the Buckeyes need in their deep safety. The speed is there, and now it is on Stokes to continue adding muscle and strength in order to be prepared to walk into the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and compete amongst some of the Big Ten's best at the position.
In the class
The need for a pure safety in Ohio State's 2022 class has been well-documented. We talked about it ad nauseam – notably back in mid-February when we listed the position as the No. 3 position of importance in the cycle and again less than five minutes before Stokes announced his commitment.
There is plenty of talent at safety on scholarship right now for the Buckeyes who are likely to still be on the Buckeyes' two-deep in the fall of 2022. Ronnie Hickman, Lathan Ransom, Jantzen Dunn and Kourt Williams (depending on where the staff elects to use him) are the top contenders to play the one-high safety once Josh Proctor is gone.
Ohio State brought in a couple other defensive backs who have the versatility to possibly play safety in Andre Turrentine and Denzel Burke, though I think Turrentine is destined to be a slot corner and Burke destined to be a corner as well.
And until Sunday night, the Buckeyes had yet to land a player who could project to play the deep safety spot in the 2022 cycle. With that speed and play-making ability touched on above, Stokes has the potential to fill that role.
But Ohio State is not done recruiting the position as it is searching for at least two safeties in this class.
Xavier Nwankpa, ranked No. 71 overall and No. 5 at safety in the composite, remains the No. 1 safety target for Ohio State, and he just released a final seven list over the weekend that has the Buckeyes up against Clemson, Iowa, LSU, Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Arizona State. The potential five-star prospect – who is ranked 13th overall and No. 1 at the position by 247Sports' own rankings – is making what could be a massive official visit to Columbus on June 4-6.
Zion Branch, No. 49 overall and No. 4 at safety, will also be making an official visit that same weekend, so the Buckeyes will have their top-two safety targets on campus in the same weekend. It will be hard to pull the Las Vegas native from out west and out of the hands of programs such as USC and Oregon, but perhaps the atmosphere of that weekend and getting to meet Ohio State's coaching staff in person could do the trick.
Stokes' commitment gives the Buckeyes 11 commits in the class following Dasan McCullough's flip to Indiana last weekend, and he is the third defensive back in the cycle, joining five-star cornerback Jaheim Singletary and four-star cornerback Jyaire Brown.