Former South Carolina Defensive Back Keenan Nelson Jr. Commits to Ohio State

By Chase Brown on May 17, 2024 at 10:07 am
Keenan Nelson Jr.
Jeff Blake / USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State has added much-needed depth to its safety room.

On Friday, former South Carolina defensive back Keenan Nelson Jr. committed to Ohio State, bolstering a safety room that will feature Lathan Ransom, Caleb Downs, Malik Hartford, Jayden Bonsu, Jaylen McClain and Leroy Roker in 2024. Nelson will have three years of eligibility to use with the Buckeyes.

A four-star recruit in the 2022 class, Nelson hails from Philadelphia and St. Joseph's Prep — the alma mater of former Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and quarterback Kyle McCord. According to the 247Sports composite, Nelson was the No. 17 safety and No. 221 overall prospect in his class. He received offers from 21 schools and committed to South Carolina over Penn State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Oregon.

The Nelson File

  • Class: 2022
  • Size: 6-1/195
  • Pos: Safety
  • College: South Carolina
  • Stats: `15 games, 13 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 BLK, 1 TD

At South Carolina, Nelson appeared in 15 games and made four starts across two seasons. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defensive back recorded 13 tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup in those contests. He also made an impact on special teams this past season, blocking a punt against Vanderbilt and returning the ball 18 yards for a touchdown.

According to Pro Football Focus, Nelson earned a 58.1 overall grade in 115 snaps in 2023. That score is a cumulative average of Nelson’s other four performance grades, including a 74.3 grade as a run defender, 46.8 as a tackler, 58.6 as a pass rusher and 50.8 as a pass defender.

With Downs and Ransom locked in at Ohio State’s adjuster and bandit positions and Jordan Hancock set to continue as the Buckeyes’ nickel, Nelson will add depth to the team's defensive backfield in 2024. Hartford seems poised to fill in behind Downs at the adjuster after an impressive freshman season in which he made nine appearances and one start, leaving Nelson to contend with Bonsu, McClain and Roker for a spot in the two-deep behind Ransom at the bandit.

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