Cleveland Heights Coach Mac Stephens Calls Ohio State Target Marquise Davis "One Of The Best Running Backs in The Country" and Earning an OSU Offer Was a "Big Deal" to Brandon Caesar

By Garrick Hodge on September 8, 2023 at 11:35 am
Marquise Davis
Marquise Davis

As Ohio State starts to shift a heavier focus to the 2025 recruiting class, one in-state school boasts two prospects the Buckeyes have heavy interest in, one on each side of the ball.

Cleveland Heights four-star 2025 running back Marquise Davis has been to Ohio State several times since he received his offer in January, including for a recruiting camp over the summer. He also plans to be at the Buckeyes’ home opener with Youngstown State on Saturday.

Davis has put up eye-popping numbers in his first three games of the year, rushing for 766 yards on 72 carries with 10 rushing touchdowns. He’s also stood out defensively as a defensive back, making 19 tackles with two interceptions and a defensive touchdown.

His teammate, three-star defensive lineman Brandon Caesar, has opened some eyes after returning to full form after suffering a broken ankle in his sophomore season. Ohio State liked what it saw from Caesar in his first couple of games, extending him an offer on Aug. 28. 

Eleven Warriors caught up with Cleveland Heights coach Mac Stephens to learn more about the two Ohio standouts that will be priority targets for the Buckeyes in the 2025 cycle.

Some answers have been slightly edited for length and clarity.

Starting with Brandon, how excited were you to see him pick up the offer from Ohio State?

Mac Stephens: I was happy for him. He’s been working hard and has been through some adversity, he’s had to overcome an injury from last season. Right now, he’s having a very good season so far. To pick up that type of offer is always a big deal. 

What was the extent of his injury?

Stephens: He fractured his ankle in preparation for Week 1 last year. So he missed the entire regular season and came back for Week 11 of the playoffs. He’s done very well and elicits a lot of double teams. He’s been big for us.

What does Brandon really excel at on the defensive line?

Stephens: Being a wrestler, he understands leverage at the point of attack. He doesn’t get pushed off the ball much. He holds his own. 

Would you say you deploy him more as an interior guy or on the edge?

Stephens: It just depends on the opponent that we’re playing. Some games we’re playing, he may play defensive end the entire time. This past week against Hudson, they had a strong running attack so we had to play him inside and outside. He started playing out inside, but they were running their stretch zone play so we had to move him to defensive end to prevent them from moving outside. He did a nice job. 

From the feedback you’ve gotten from college coaches, do you think he’ll play inside, outside or could he do either?

Stephens: Personally, I think he’ll be inside. The kid is 16 years old and he’s 6-foot-3, 255 pounds. I gotta believe he’ll be 270 or 275 by next season. By the time he hits a college campus, you’re talking about a 275-280 pound kid. Personally, I think he’ll be a defensive tackle eventually.

What’s Brandon like off the field? 

Stephens: He’s a phenomenal, high-character kid. He has a high GPA and believes in treating people the right way. He’s an engaging personality and can talk to you about a number of subjects. I spent a lot of time with him traveling to camps and different things over the years and had a lot of conversations with him about things other than sports, which is refreshing.

Switching to Marquise, he’s had a torrid start to the year. How dynamic of a running back is he? 

Stephens: He by far is one of the best running backs in his class in the entire country. He’s prepared hard in the offseason and obviously it’s paying off. He’s 15 pounds heavier than he was last season and a lot stronger. He’s tough to be down one-on-one.

What would you say his best attribute is?

Stephens: Toughness. He’s one of the toughest players I’ve ever coached. 

Obviously, Marquise has taken a lot of visits to Ohio State in the last year or so. What has he kind of told you about his experiences from visiting there?

Stephens: I think like any 16-year-old kid he comes away impressed every time. He’s got a good relationship with Tony Alford. Obviously, Ohio State is on the big stage and they’re up there in consideration for sure. 

I know they’ll both make the decision that’s best for them personally, but if it works out this way, how cool would it be for you to see them team up at the college level?

Stephens: I think that would be phenomenal. It’s always good to go into your freshman year with some familiarity or knowing someone that’s already there. That would be special for sure if it happens.

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