Four days out from his first-ever college football game, Sonny Styles is "officially" a Buckeye.
The five-star freshman safety and No. 27 overall prospect in the 2021 class shed his black stripe Tuesday, becoming the ninth freshman to do so since the start of the year.
Styles is the first Buckeye to see his black stripe removed since Aug. 20, when four Buckeyes – Kyion Grayes, Dallan Hayden, Joop Mitchell and Kenyatta Jackson – all received the honor following an Ohio State practice.
The Pickerington Central product enrolled in the summer but has quickly impressed first-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles, who said the 6-foot-4 safety could be a "secret weapon" for the Buckeye defense in the future.
“Oh, (he's been) great. Sonny's really been impressive. I mean, he's a guy who studies, learns, always in there,” Knowles said earlier this month. “He literally ripped the ball out from the running back the other day, playmaker, showing up in the right (spots), picking things up. Sometimes you see young guys and until you ask me, I don't ever remember yelling at him, except for positive things. I don't remember him making a mistake, and for a young guy that's fantastic. So I think Sonny's gonna be great.
“(He can do) all kinds of stuff. I don't want to put too much on him yet because I want to get him into the flow. But in terms of the future, it's gonna be bright and it's gonna be a lot of fun with the things we're able to do with him.”
Knowles said Styles’ maturity at such a young age is “mind-blowing” and “above his years.”
Ohio State possesses plenty of depth at its three safety positions entering Saturday's season opener, but Styles' black stripe removal is a positive indicator about his game-readiness as a first-year Buckeye nonetheless.
|TANNER MCCALISTER||S||MARCH 28||Transfer|
|KYE STOKES||S||APRIL 8||Freshman|
|CADEN CURRY||DE||APRIL 11||Freshman|
|CHIP TRAYANUM||LB||AUG. 9||Transfer|
|JYAIRE BROWN||CB||AUG. 9||Freshman|
|C.J. HICKS||LB||AUG. 13||Freshman|
|ZAK HERBSTREIT||TE||AUG. 17||Second year|
|KALEB BROWN||WR||AUG. 17||Freshman|
|KYION GRAYES||WR||AUG. 20||Freshman|
|DALLAN HAYDEN||RB||AUG. 20||Freshman|
|JOOP MITCHELL||WR||AUG. 20||Second year|
|KENYATTA JACKSON||DE||AUG. 20||Freshman|
|SONNY STYLES||S||AUG. 30||Freshman|