The Hurry-Up: Matt Barnes Likes Versatility in Defensive Back Recruits, Stacy Gage Picks Up an Ohio State Offer and Caden Curry Finalizes Visit Plans

By Garrick Hodge on August 23, 2021 at 6:30 pm
Matt Barnes

There’s been no shortage of discussion this offseason about two specific positions in Ohio State’s secondary.

The first is the bullet, which most of you know by now is essentially a hybrid between a linebacker and safety. The second is cover safety, which is essentially a slot cornerback. 

“I can play a corner in the slot, I can play a traditional safety in the slot ... we’re concept and technique-oriented,” Ohio State secondary coach Matt Barnes said. 

Eleven Warriors X’s and O’s guru Kyle Jones broke down both of them in detail pretty well here.

But when it comes to recruiting prospective defensive backs, Barnes can’t always predict if that athlete will end up profiling as a cover safety, outside, free safety or bullet. There are times where a player will be recruited primarily for one specific position, but at other times, flexibility to play all over the field is key. 

“In some instances, we’re specific,” Barnes said Monday. “We always have some targeted body types and skillsets. I could give you a ton of examples, but what we anticipated Lathan Ransom as when he came in is much different than what we’re actually using him as. You have to be flexible, you have to understand if you pigeonhole somebody as a 17-year-old, I don’t think that’s the right move. You have to see what they can do, and you have to see what your needs are, what they do best and how you can put them in a defensive position to be successful.” 

The more versatile a player is, the more likely they are to see the field at Ohio State. On Monday, Barnes said the Buckeyes are going to utilize more than six players in the secondary this season.

“That’s what makes this DB unit this year so good,” Ohio State safety Kourt Williams said. “All of us are so versatile. That’s really what makes us so great. It’s not just a few guys, we’re all smart and all very instinctive. It’s going to be very exciting to see what we do this year.”  

Ohio State's recruiting class of 2022 currently includes four defensive back commits: Terrance BrooksJyaire BrownRyan Turner and Kye Stokes. The Buckeyes are prioritizing safeties Zion Branch and Xavier Nwankpa to fill out the class.

Gage picks up OSU offer

Tony Alford saw what he needed to see. 

Ohio State made an offer to 2024 running back Stacy Gage on Saturday.

In 247Sports’ early top-100 rankings for the class of 2024, Gage was rated the 41st-best player and the second-best running back. While he just started his sophomore year, he has picked up more than 20 offers. Gage ran for two touchdowns in IMG Academy’s season-opening 35-14 win against American Heritage on Friday.

One priority wide receiver target for the 2023 class who happens to be teammates with Gage at IMG Academy seems pleased by the offer:

Carnell Tate also scored a touchdown in the season opener for IMG Academy, who will play Bishop Sycamore at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton on Sunday. 

Curry to attend Oregon game

Caden Curry, one of Ohio State's top defensive line targets in the 2022 class, has scheduled his official visit to Columbus.

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Center Grove High School (Greenwood, Indiana) standout will attend OSU’s home opener against Oregon on Sept. 11, according to 247Sports. 

“I want to see the game day atmosphere, just see all the fans, just see how the atmosphere is looking and how the stadium is shaking,” Curry told 247Sports.

Curry, who made an unofficial visit to Ohio State in June, has a final five of Ohio State, Oregon, Alabama, Clemson and Indiana. He’s rated as the 69th-best prospect and the 12th-ranked defensive lineman in the 2022 class, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings. 

Inniss commits to Oklahoma 

Brandon Inniss had been trending toward Oklahoma for weeks. 

On Sunday, the top-ranked receiver in the class of 2023 confirmed all the speculation and announced his verbal commitment to play for the Sooners. 

Inniss, the ninth-rated player nationally, picked Oklahoma out of a top five that also included Ohio State, Florida, Alabama and Miami.

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