Lorenzo Styles Jr. “Trying to Be One of the Best Players in the Country” After Transferring to Ohio State to Play Cornerback

By Dan Hope on July 22, 2023 at 8:35 am
Lorenzo Styles Jr.

Yes, Lorenzo Styles Jr. is thrilled to be playing with his younger brother. As you might expect, Styles is excited to be back home in Ohio and playing for the team his father also played for. Even though he’s already been at Ohio State for a couple months after making the decision to transfer to Ohio State from Notre Dame, Styles says it still feels surreal to be a Buckeye.

But make no mistake: Styles didn’t transfer to Ohio State to be part of a feel-good family story. He transferred to Ohio State because of what he believes he can still accomplish in his college football career and eventually accomplish in the NFL.

“I mean, it's definitely a cool opportunity. And I don't want to take it for granted. Like, I'm super blessed. But I'm not necessarily just happy to be here,” Styles said. “I'm trying to be one of the best players in the country. And I'm trying to use all the resources we have here.”

Because Styles grew up in nearby Pickerington, Ohio, his younger brother Sonny is a safety for the Buckeyes and his father Lorenzo was a star linebacker for Ohio State in the 1990s, it was easy to connect the dots between Styles and Ohio State when he entered the transfer portal in April. But Styles said it wasn’t a foregone conclusion he would transfer to Ohio State when he entered the portal.

What Styles did know when he entered the portal was he wanted to play cornerback at his next destination, and he became confident Ohio State could help him develop into an elite cornerback once he started talking to secondary coach Tim Walton.

“It definitely still was a hard decision. I had to think about some things for sure. But at the end of the day, this was the best opportunity for me to excel,” Styles said Friday at the CareSource Football ProCamp, where he held his first interview session since transferring to Ohio State. “I mean, we're trying to be BIA. We're trying to be the best cornerback group in the nation. I really believe in Coach Walt, and I really believe in the guys we have on this team, and I think they can develop me to be the best player I can be.”

Styles was a wide receiver at Notre Dame, where he caught 54 passes for 684 yards and two touchdowns across two seasons. His desire to play wide receiver was one reason why he chose to play for the Fighting Irish out of high school, as Ohio State primarily recruited Styles as a cornerback.

His decision to move to cornerback this offseason started with Styles doing some drill work with Notre Dame’s cornerbacks just for fun.

“It was actually kind of funny. I just love playing football in general, so after the season ended, our corners were out there doing some drills and stuff and I was like, ‘Let me hop in, let me see how I'm looking.’ And it felt kind of natural,” Styles said. “I'm like ‘Oh, I kind of like this,’ and then when I was at Notre Dame, I asked (Notre Dame head coach Marcus) Freeman, I was like, ‘I want to try this position out’ and I really enjoyed it.”

Styles enjoyed his time playing wide receiver at Notre Dame and said he’d be willing to move back to receiver if Ohio State ever asked him to. That said, he believes moving to cornerback will give him a better chance of succeeding in the NFL.

“I thought I had the best opportunity to have a long career in the NFL as a corner. And I think I have the highest ceiling at that position,” said Styles, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior. “I think my skill set fits really well. I'm explosive. I'm fast. I'm pretty long. I can run. So I think just trying to have that translate to the defensive side of the ball would be pretty effective.”

Although he could have played cornerback at Ohio State all along if he wanted to, Styles said he has no regrets about starting his college career as a wide receiver in South Bend.

“I'm proud of those two years. I had a great time at Notre Dame. I started a lot of my freshman year and my sophomore year at receiver,” Styles said. “So I think it's pretty cool just to start two years at receiver at a big institution, then come here and now play corner and hopefully soon dominate on the field.”

Styles believes his experience playing wide receiver at Notre Dame will make him a better cornerback in the long run.

“A lot of the skills I learned from receiver, that's gonna help me excel at the cornerback position,” Styles said. “Just understanding route concepts, understanding what a receiver wants to do. I mean, I think a lot of corners, they don't have that like receiver experience and understanding what an offense is trying to attack and what they're trying to get at. But being able to understand that’s going to help me be able to get my hands on the ball.”

“I'm not necessarily just happy to be here. I'm trying to be one of the best players in the country.”– Lorenzo Styles on transferring to Ohio State

With Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock, Davison Igbinosun and Jyaire Brown expected to lead the cornerback depth chart in one order or another, one school of thought has been that Styles could take a redshirt year in 2023 to preserve his two remaining seasons of eligibility as he reacclimates to playing a position he hasn’t played since high school. Styles, however, is confident he will be ready to contribute as needed at cornerback this season.

“I'm working to be a starter. I'm working to be one of the best corners in the country. And I think that's just my mindset, trying to attack that every single day,” Styles said. “No matter what it really looks like right now, that's my ultimate goal.”

Styles acknowledges he’ll have a lot of work to do in preseason camp to get prepared to play a new position this year. But he’s been doing everything he can since arriving at Ohio State to get up to speed quickly, including working with Ohio State’s more established cornerbacks and doing drill work against Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka and the rest of Ohio State’s wide receivers.

“We have some of the best receivers in the country, so just using them to try to get inside, pick their brain a little bit. Trying to just do different releases and just mirror them a little bit,” Styles said. “And then we also have Denzel, we have Jordan, we have different dudes in the room who I really respect a lot, and I can see they're hungry to try to be the best cornerback group in the nation. So just following them a little bit, using Coach Walt and all the staff and resources we have out here … I have a lot of growth to do right now, but it's going at an exponential rate.”

Styles will return to Notre Dame in just over two months when the Buckeyes travel to South Bend to play the Fighting Irish in their fourth game of the season on Sept. 23, but he says he doesn’t plan to treat that game differently than any other Ohio State will play this season. Styles’ biggest goal for this season is to try to help the Buckeyes bring a national championship back to his home state, so he says that’s all he’ll be focused on when he’s playing his former team.

“I'm trying to win. I think there's really nothing else to it,” Styles said. “Me and my guys are gonna prepare as much as we can. We're gonna come out there and try to win that ballgame.”

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