Ohio State cornerbacks coach Tim Walton received an intriguing call on Wednesday.
2025 Georgia cornerback Jontae Gilbert was making his weekly check-in with his primary recruiter at Ohio State, only this time he had a proposition for Walton. He was ready to end his recruitment right then and there and commit to Ohio State.
Walton was elated, but told Gilbert he needed to confirm that was all right with Ryan Day. Once Walton got the green light from Day, the pair reconnected on Friday. He wanted Gilbert to completely understand what being committed to Ohio State means.
“He gave me a breakdown of what I can and can’t do,” Gilbert told Eleven Warriors. “I can’t talk to other coaches and can’t visit other schools. But I wanted to be a Buckeye.”
Once Walton laid out the standard for being a Buckeyes commit, he gave Gilbert his blessing to pull the trigger. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound cornerback pulled the trigger later that night and committed to Ohio State on Friday.
“I just felt like it’s a place I could play at in the near future,” Gilbert said of why he committed to the Buckeyes.
Gilbert is just entering his sophomore season of high school, so he knows all too well he’s committing earlier than most prospects. Ohio State hasn’t had a player commit to the Buckeyes before the start of their sophomore year since quarterback Danny Clark in the 2017 class. That commitment didn’t end up sticking, as he later decommitted and signed with Kentucky.
But Gilbert said he takes pride in knowing he’s the first player to pledge to Ohio State’s 2025 class.
Gilbert received his Ohio State offer on May 9 and instantly clicked with Walton.
“We have a great relationship,” Gilbert said of him and Walton. “We talk every week. He thinks I’m a physical cornerback that can play outside. I know his résumé. He had a great run with Jalen Ramsey and he coached one of the greatest cornerbacks playing right now.”
Gilbert was convinced he wanted to play for Ohio State after visiting Columbus on June 9 and seeing Walton in person.
Had a amazing visit cant wait to come back up in the fall #GoBuckeyes @CoachTimWalton @Coach_Eliano @CoachM_Patrick @ryandaytime @JeremyO_Johnson @Mansell247 @N_Murph @ChadSimmons_ @DemetricDWarren @adamgorney pic.twitter.com/IfZEMA36HC— Jontae Gilbert (@J7ontae) June 10, 2022
“I just was impressed with the bond he had with his guys and the way they work,” Gilbert said of seeing Walton in action on his June visit. “The facilities were really nice as well.”
The Georgia cornerback is well aware of the history the Buckeyes have of developing talented cornerbacks for the next level. He idolizes former Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore because of his physical style of play.
“He’s just got a swagger to him,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert may be young, but he’s already proven himself as a potential top-10 cornerback in the 2025 class. In his freshman season at Douglass (Atlanta, Georgia), Gilbert saw extensive playing time at both cornerback and safety and picked off three passes. He received an invitation to the 2025 Under Armour All-American game, yet another indicator he’s seen as one of the top prospects in his class.
“I’m a great physical cornerback with great ball skills,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert was also a significant contributor on special teams and saw snaps on offense at wide receiver. He has already shown to be an adept run defender and should build on his long frame as he gets older.
Ohio State is one of seven schools that have offered Gilbert before his sophomore year. Other schools that have offered him include Arkansas, Buffalo, Florida A&M, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and UAB.
But he’ll now only be making visits to one school: Ohio State. His next trip to Columbus will be for Ohio State’s season opener against Notre Dame on Sept. 3.