Heading into the 2021 recruiting cycle, cornerback was set to be one of Ohio State's greatest needs.
That's why four-star Suwanee, Georgia product Jordan Hancock was identified early on as a major target for Jeff Hafley and the Buckeyes.
Hancock was offered in October of 2019, which was before the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder really became a national name.
The Hancock File
- Class: 2021
- Size: 6-foot-1/170 lbs.
- Pos: CB
- School: North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: 67 (4 CB)
Hafley's departure meant that Kerry Coombs would have to take over the recruitment, and by that time the pursuit of Hancock had already turned into a national battle. Alabama offered in December, and Clemson followed suit a month later. The three powerhouse programs would be in the middle of the chase for the rest of the cycle.
For a while, Hancock was viewed as a package deal with close friend and teammate Barrett Carter. The four-star linebacker was also a top Buckeye target, and the duo visited Columbus in November of 2019. There was a time when it looked as though Ohio State would perhaps be able to land both of the North Gwinnett stars.
While Alabama was also in contention, it was the Tigers that emerged as the top competition for one of the nation's top corners. Hancock visited Clemson in January and then made a return trip in March. Just days later – on March 11 – Dabo Swinney delivered a big blow to the Buckeyes' 2021 class when Hancock announced his commitment to Clemson. Carter would do the same two months later.
But the Ohio State coaching staff and the 2021 commitments never gave up the chase for one of the nation's most-prized corners. The Buckeyes kept chipping away, and while Hancock said all the right things regarding his Clemson pledge, it just never felt like Ohio State had gone away.
Then, on July 14, he backed off of his commitment and it started to become clear that Coombs and Co. were close to landing yet another talented defensive back, and five days later Hancock became commitment No. 19 for Ryan Day and the Buckeyes.
1000% COMMITTED— jordan hancock (@jordanhancock_7) July 19, 2020
I AM A BUCKEYE FOR LIFE pic.twitter.com/VKGkvXxDfu
Ohio State and Clemson have butted heads on the trail numerous times, but it's uncommon for Swinney and the Tigers to lose their grip on a commitment. But that's precisely what went down with the Hancock situation as Day and the Buckeyes pulled off the rare flip from Clemson.
Playing in Georgia's top high school football classification (7A), he's got the ball skills and hips to be a pure cover corner. The athleticism is there, too, as he recorded a 4.41 time in the 40 when timed at his school. As a junior, he helped lead the Bulldogs to a 12-2 record and a state semifinal appearance.
In August, Hancock made the difficult decision to opt out of his senior season at North Gwinnett High School in order to protect his parents' health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With uncertainty surrounding the football season in many states, a number of Buckeye commits had some touch choices to make. With his team sitting at 3-2 midway through the campaign, he then made the decision to opt back in for his final season.
Listed as the nation's No. 4 player at cornerback and the No. 67 overall prospect, Hancock will team up with Missouri's Jakailin Johnson as the two pure cornerbacks in the 2021 class. Arizona athlete Denzel Burke is also expected to line up at corner.
Hancock is set to enroll next summer and will look to help carry on Ohio State's rich tradition in the defensive backfield.