DeaMonte Trayanum still remembers the day like it was yesterday.
On Jan. 29, 2018, Trayanum received his first scholarship offer from any school when Ryan Day – who was Ohio State’s offensive coordinator and lead recruiter for the Akron area at the time – extended him an offer to play for the Buckeyes.
Im grateful and blessed to say that I have received an offer from The Ohio State University!! pic.twitter.com/I8z6dQvLfx— DeaMonte Trayanum (@Chipperrz_) January 29, 2018
Nearly four years later, Trayanum feels like everything has come full circle.
A four-star prospect in the recruiting class of 2020, Trayanum signed with Arizona State out of high school. A two-way star at Archbishop Hoban, Trayanum was initially offered as a linebacker by Ohio State but ultimately chose to play running back at Arizona State, a decision he says he made because of his connection with the Sun Devils’ coaching staff and a desire to venture away from home after spending his entire childhood in the Midwest.
Following two seasons at Arizona State, however, Trayanum chose to enter the transfer portal, a decision he says he made because he wants “to win and compete for a championship.” And that quest is bringing him back to his home state to take advantage of the opportunity he first received nearly four years ago, as he announced on Christmas Day that he’ll be transferring to Ohio State to play defense.
“It still kind of feels surreal,” Trayanum told Eleven Warriors last week. “I feel like everything’s back full circle, back at home, back playing in state, here playing for the Buckeyes, it’s almost like a dream.”
Trayanum didn’t enter the portal with his sights set on playing linebacker. But he felt like it was something he had to consider once he received a call from Ohio State, who also offered him as a running back out of high school but only recruited him as a linebacker this time.
Trayanum says he “had a lot of phone calls” with Ohio State’s coaches, primarily linebackers coach Al Washington and new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, about how he will be utilized in Ohio State’s defensive scheme. And he believes Ohio State, a school he visited frequently as a high school recruit, will set him up for success not only as a football player but also in life.
“Just taking a step back and seeing the big picture and just looking at opportunities, not even what just Coach Day can do for me on the field but off the field as well with the connections in Ohio and just helping me set myself up to have the most successful future,” said Trayanum, who plans to major in economics at Ohio State. “Football is just the platform as of right now, but I plan on going very, very far after this with my life, and planning on making positive impact for change with whatever I decide to end up doing after football.”
Trayanum’s move from running back to linebacker entering his third year of college football comes with a recent precedent at Ohio State. Steele Chambers made that same move last year and ended up becoming the Buckeyes’ starting Will linebacker by the end of the 2021 season.
While that may have given Ohio State confidence that Trayanum could have similar success making that transition, Trayanum says his decision to transfer to Ohio State as a linebacker had nothing to do with Chambers. Rather, Trayanum simply believes he can be successful as a linebacker because of how well he played the position at Hoban, where he earned first-team All-Ohio honors after recording 60 total tackles, eight sacks, five forced fumbles and 10 pass breakups as a junior.
“I played defense in high school, and I played it very well. Defense in high school is what brought me the big-school offers to the table,” Trayanum said. “So I just have confidence in myself that I know I can do it.”
Trayanum, who says he doesn’t know what specific linebacker position he will play yet, will face plenty of competition to get on the field at Ohio State. Chambers, Tommy Eichenberg and Cody Simon will all be back after leading Ohio State’s 2021 linebacker corps while Teradja Mitchell and Palaie Gaoteote could also be back for another year. Cade Stover appears set to move to linebacker after playing the position in the Rose Bowl, redshirt freshman Reid Carrico and redshirt sophomore Mitchell Melton will also try to earn playing time and true freshmen C.J. Hicks and Gabe Powers are talented enough to play immediately.
Competition wasn’t going to scare off Trayanum, though.
“I’ve never been guaranteed anything throughout the whole recruiting process, so it doesn’t faze anything to me dealing with four- or five-stars,” said Trayanum, who brings three years of eligibility to Ohio State. “At the end of the day, the coaches are gonna put whoever’s best on the field, whoever they believe is gonna make the play and help benefit the team to help get the W.”
Trayanum describes himself as a “huge competitor” who will “do whatever it takes to win,” and he says Ohio State fans will see a player who wants to attack ballcarriers and make plays while “playing every play like it’s my last.”
“I play the position fearless and reckless,” said Trayanum, who is 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds. “I’m not really a think-first guy, I just read and react.”
Trayanum also aspires to be a leader in Ohio State’s linebacker room.
“Never get my head or nose into any trouble. And just always being there with my teammates,” Trayanum said. “Whether that’s just being an ear that they need for somebody to listen to or just for somebody that they need to see do things the right way.”
Trayanum says he doesn’t regret starting his career at Arizona State, as he believes “everything in life happens for a reason.” And he didn’t leave Tempe because he was homesick, as his parents actually moved out to Arizona, where they plan to stay even though he’s moving back to Ohio.
He is glad, though, that he’s getting another chance to play linebacker for Ohio State after choosing a different path initially.
“I’m just happy to be where I’m at now,” Trayanum said.