Ohio State made big waves throughout the state of Ohio and nationwide in recruiting circles by landing a commitment from 2023 linebacker/safety Alex “Sonny” Styles on Saturday.
The five-star in-state standout is the seventh-ranked player and the top-rated safety in his class per 247Sports’ composite rankings, and he comes from Ohio State bloodlines. His father, Lorenzo Styles, was a standout linebacker for the Buckeyes from 1992-94.
Lorenzo, who is currently the defensive backs coach at Pickerington Central High School, and his wife Laverna, Styles’ mother, took some time to answer a few questions from Eleven Warriors on Wednesday evening, four days after their son committed to Ohio State and two days before Styles and Pickerington Central will play Upper Arlington in a regional final of the Ohio high school playoffs on Friday.
Styles’ parents talked to us about Sonny’s decision, visiting Notre Dame where their older son Lorenzo Styles Jr. is a wide receiver, the origin of the nickname Sonny and more. This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.
Q: Getting right into it, for Sonny, what went into this decision to commit now and what was the main factor that led to Ohio State winning out over other schools?
Lorenzo Styles: “He really enjoyed being at Ohio State and being around the coaches and players. I think he just really loved the environment and wanted to be a part of it.”
Q: How excited is he to potentially play that bullet role in Ohio State’s defense that will utilize his skill set as a safety/linebacker hybrid?
Lorenzo: “I’m pretty excited for him. That’s what he does at the high school level right now. It really allows them to utilize and unlock all of his tools, so I’m excited for him.”
Q: You’ve been coaching him for a long time, have you not?
Lorenzo: “Pretty much since he started.”
Q: What’s it been like coaching him and seeing him develop into the player he is now?
Lorenzo: “It’s exciting, but the most gratifying thing for me is how much he enjoys the game and enjoys getting better at it. He always keeps asking for more and more information.”
Q: What’s his relationship like with Ryan Day, Matt Barnes and the Ohio State coaching staff?
Lorenzo: “I think it’s good. He really enjoys everything about Ohio State, from the coaching staff to the stadium and getting love from the fans.”
Laverna: “I think the coaching staff did a great job from the time that they offered being in consistent contact with him. They definitely continued that relationship from the time they made the offer, including coach Day.”
Q: Lorenzo, obviously a lot of fans remember your playing career at Ohio State. Is it cool for you that your son is going to be able to follow in your footsteps and be a Buckeye?
Lorenzo: “I mean, it’s exciting for him to be there. But he’s going to be able to go there and start his own footsteps.”
Q: For both of you, I know it’s a long way away, but Notre Dame is scheduled to play Ohio State in 2023. Is that going to be a stressful game to watch with Lorenzo Jr. on Notre Dame and Sonny on Ohio State?
Lorenzo: “I’m just excited. I’m going to have the same love for (both) as a father. I probably won’t root for one team or the other. But, uh, I hope that we do win.”
Laverna: “For me, I’m already stressed.”
Q: What was it like for you as parents to take visits to Notre Dame to watch Lorenzo Jr. play and also at the same time see what that experience could be like for Alex if that’s where he wanted to go?
Lorenzo: “We kind of separated the two. Before the game, we’re going there for Alex to be recruited and to see what they had to offer as far as he was concerned. Once the game started, it was about rooting for my son to do well in the game.”
Q: I’m just curious, where did Alex get the nickname Sonny? Where did that nickname start?
Lorenzo: “Kind of a thing that started around the house.”
Laverna: “My husband hates this story on social media. It has to do with the movie The Godfather and the character Sonny (Corleone), the hot-headed brother. We just used to tease him about Sonny being hot-headed.”
Q: Obviously Sonny is a pretty talented basketball player as well, have there been any conversations with Ohio State about playing basketball at the next level, or do you think it’s going to be football only?
Lorenzo: “We started thinking about that being an option. They’ve talked to the coaches and stuff like that. But I think he’s going to solely play football because it’s too tough on your body to do both. We kind of nixed that idea and entertaining that thought.”