Better Know a Buckeye: Calvin Simpson-Hunt Has the Speed, Physicality and Coverage Ability to Help Ohio State Get Back to BIA Status

By Josh Poloha on March 23, 2023 at 8:35 am
Calvin Simpson-Hunt

Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.

Yet another fast-rising prospect in Ohio State's 2023 recruiting cycle, Calvin Simpson-Hunt went from being a mid-tier prospect to one of the best in his class in fewer than two years.

Ranked as the No. 8 cornerback (No. 62 overall) in the 2023 class according to 247Sports' composite rankings, Simpson-Hunt is the second-highest-ranked defensive player in this cycle for the Buckeyes.

Calvin Simpson-Hunt

  • Size: 6-0/175
  • Position: CB
  • School: Waxahachie (Waxahachie, Texas)
  • 247 Composite: ★★★★
  • Composite Rank: #8 CB
  • Overall Rank: #62

How He Became A Buckeye

Simpson-Hunt was a longtime Texas Tech commit. He committed to the Red Raiders on Nov. 9, 2021, less than two weeks after receiving his first offer. He was ranked in the mid-300s in his class at the time. 

When Ohio State offered him on May 4, the Texas native was starting to pile up big-time offers. Although the Buckeyes joined his recruitment late in the process, the coaching staff made Simpson-Hunt a priority and identified the Texas cornerback as a potential key addition to Ohio State's 2023 class.

Following an official visit to Columbus on June 17-19 and one final visit to Texas Tech shortly after, the 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback flipped his commitment to Ohio State on June 30, 2022, at which time he was ranked as the 174th-best prospect in his class.

“That was a real difficult decision,” Simpson-Hunt told 247Sports of his flip to Ohio State. “It came down to one day of doing nothing but straight thinking about where I wanted to go. I just sat down and thought about all the factors. It really came down to where the family was, where it feels (like family). That’s really what it came down to.” 

High School Years

Simpson-Hunt’s rise continued over the course of his senior season, and he is now considered a top-65 prospect (and top-10 cornerback) in the 2023 class. Not bad for a prospect who received his first big-time offer in November of his junior year.

A two-year starter at cornerback, Simpson-Hunt totaled 29 tackles (five for loss), one sack, one quarterback hurry, one interception and two pass deflections in 10 games his junior season. He also returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown, a breakout season in which he was named a Texas District 11-6A first-team selection. Simpson-Hunt's dominant junior season was followed by a bunch of big-time offers from the blue bloods of college football.

In his final high school season, the cornerback racked up 33 tackles (two for loss), four interceptions and a fumble recovery that he returned 94 yards for a touchdown. and was selected to play in the All-American Bowl.

Off the field, Simpson-Hunt has shown his speed on the track with a 10.65-second 100-meter dash and 22.12-second 200-meter dash. He has also been clocked running a 4.38 40-yard dash. That track speed will certainly help Simpson-Hunt keep up with elite wide receivers as he takes his game to the collegiate level.

Immediate Impact

Simpson-Hunt's ability to press the opponent's top outside receiver in man coverage and use his physicality and strength to even knock his opponent to the ground at the line of scrimmage paired with awareness and IQ in zone coverage is what makes him one of the best cornerbacks in his class. The 6-foot, 175-pound cornerback also has the ball skills and athleticism to shed blocks on run plays and screens and defend jump balls. It’s the type of skill set that could allow him to see the field early even while he continues to get stronger and develop in the weight room.

"Theoretically, you don't want to have to put a true freshman out there but some guys are ready for it," cornerbacks coach Tim Walton said in February. "If you're ready for it and you show that you have it in your competitive nature, you're physically ready, the mental state of mind, you have the maturity level because some guys mature faster than others." 

Considering two of Ohio State’s top three cornerbacks from last season are no longer in Columbus – Cameron Brown entered the 2023 NFL draft and JK Johnson transferred to LSU – there will be plenty of competition in the two-deep for the Buckeyes' cornerbacks. And Simpson-Hunt has the repertoire to challenge for early playing time. He won’t arrive until summer, giving him ground to make up on Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun, Jordan Hancock, Jyaire Brown, Ryan Turner and fellow true freshman Jermaine Mathews Jr., but Walton believes Simpson-Hunt has the physical makeup to compete as soon as he arrives.

“He is more physically ready than some high school guys,” Walton said. “It's my job now to bridge the gap with the knowledge and learning before he gets here, but he wanted to finish up with that experience, and we'll try to make sure we catch him up as soon as possible. But he's physically gifted a little bit, so he won't be as far behind with some things.”

At the least, Simpson-Hunt should have the opportunity to vie for immediate playing time on special teams, which is certainly never a bad way to gain experience early on at the collegiate level.

Long-Term Impact

It could take a year or two for Simpson-Hunt to get acclimated to Jim Knowles' system, but once he does, the cornerback will likely flourish. With Burke being a candidate to enter the 2024 NFL draft after this upcoming season, there will be opportunities for Simpson-Hunt to earn playing time early in his Ohio State career.

For years now, Ohio State has been looking for the next dominant cornerback to lead the Buckeyes back to their BIA status. Given their size and the types of skill sets each possesses, I have a feeling that either Simpson-Hunt or Mathews – the top-rated defensive player in Ohio State's 2023 class – will do just that. Simpson-Hunt checks all the boxes to potentially become a dominant cornerback, it just comes down to him being able to develop both on the field and in the weight room to maximize his ceiling.

Player Comparison: Denzel Ward

When it comes to dominant Buckeye cornerbacks in recent years, Ward's name is among the top players on the list. The fourth-overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, Ward used (and continues to use) his speed, athleticism, physicality at the line of scrimmage and IQ to dominate as a defensive back. The former four-star recruit can not only lock down the opponent's best receiver on the outside, but is also adept at sniffing out screens and run plays.

Living up to the high standard Ward set won’t be easy, but Simpson-Hunt comes to Columbus with similar attributes.

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