Ohio State has always struggled landing players from the state of Michigan, especially guys from Cass Tech High School, which has been a pipeline for the Wolverines over the past couple of years. Urban Meyer and his staff are starting to change that, and it all started by scoring standout cornerback Damon Webb.
Take a trip down memory lane and find out what kind of early impact he could have for the Buckeyes, as we bring you "Bucks to the Future", the Damon Webb story.
Weight: 180 pounds
247Sports Composite: Number five corner, second ranked player in the state of Michigan, and 35th overall prospect in the 2014 class.
High school: Cass Tech High School, Detroit, Michigan
Webb followed a strong sophomore campaign with a strong showing in summer camp, which netted him most of the major college offers he received. The first two schools to offer the standout defensive back were Toledo and Western Michigan. Things really started to pick up in his recruitment when he received offers from Michigan and Michigan State, the two in-state powers on back-to-back days. The Wolverines, who were coming of a strong 2011 football season, were immediately pegged as the favorites to land the in-state star, with the Spartans having the next best shot. Next up for Webb was a camp at Ohio State, where he impressed the coaching staff and received an offer from the Buckeyes – though OSU wasn't given much of a shot immediately after the offer was extended. In July of 2012, Webb received an offer from LSU, where he had some family, making the Tigers arguably the biggest threat to the Wolverines and the Spartans.
Later in July, Webb made his second trip to Ohio State for Urban Meyer and Mark Pantoni's first ever Friday Night Lights camp as part of the Ohio State football program. Webb put on a very good performance at the camp, impressing everyone in attendance, including myself. Following the visit, many still thought Webb was leaning towards Michigan, with Michigan State and LSU being their toughest competitors.
During a dominate junior season, where he totaled 42 tackles to go along with an eye popping 7 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles, Webb took three visits to Ann Arbor to see Michigan in action, two trips to East Lansing to watch the Spartans play, and one to Notre Dame to watch the Fighting Irish take on Michigan. In December, he played a big role in leading Cass Tech to their second consecutive state title.
The first visit following his state championship victory was a weekend trip to Columbus, where he would get an in-depth look at the football program and finish things up by watching the Buckeyes take on Michigan on the basketball court. Webb would have to share the coaches' time with headline visitor Vonn Bell and company, but he still made the trip.
Going into the visit, I remember receiving word that while they might not be the favorites to land Webb, they had a much better chance to win the race for his commitment than most people were letting on. Rumors have swirled that the Michigan coaching staff did not want Webb to make the trip to Ohio State and even tried to talk him out of it, which might have cost them the shot they had with the in-state standout.
He arrived on campus with his mom and dad on Friday and got a more in-depth look at the school on Saturday. Saturday night, I found out Webb was expected to verbally commit to the Buckeyes the very next day. I was pretty shocked, and it was pretty difficult to keep news as big and surprising as Webb shocking the world by committing to Ohio State quiet for a whole day.
Then Sunday came. Ohio State scored a huge win over Michigan on the basketball court, a win that would help spark the team to a successful season after early struggles. However, the next win over Michigan might have been the biggest, as Damon Webb surprised almost everyone in recruiting circles by committing to the Buckeyes over the Wolverines.
Ohio State beats Michigan... well, again. '14 4-star CB Damon Webb commits to Ohio State http://t.co/WWUuPEE5— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) January 13, 2013
I was able to chat with Webb on his drive back to Detroit after he committed. He came into the weekend just wanting to get a better look at the Buckeye football program.
'My parents and I went down to Ohio State this weekend to get a better look at what the school had to offer," Webb said. "We got a good look at the academics, which my mom really liked and got to spend a lot of time with Coach Coombs."
Webb said he was thinking about committing going into the weekend, but wasn't 100% sure. He gave Urban Meyer the good news following Ohio State's victory over the Wolverines on the basketball court.
"Yeah, I was thinking about committing going into the visit, but I wasn't 100% sure," he said."The visit sealed it for me."
"(I committed) after the basketball game," he continued. "He (Urban Meyer) was really excited, he gave my mom, dad, and I each a hug."
Another interesting tidbit I picked up from Webb following his commitment was that Michigan was never the leader for his commitment, contrary to many reports during the first part of his recruitment.
"No, Michigan was never my leader," Webb said. "I think people thought they were because I live near the school and a lot of my Cass teammates have gone to Michigan."
Finally, he made it known that he was coming to Columbus in order to win national championships.
"Academics was probably the biggest factor in my decision. My parents and I thought it was really important to see the academic side," he stated. "Also the chance to win championships. I think the Buckeyes are going to start winning national championships."
Still, after his commitment to the Buckeyes, some questioned how solid the commitment was because many thought he might still have playing for his hometown team, Michigan, in the back of his head. In the end, his last college visit to a non-Ohio State school was on October 20th, 2012, when he watched Michigan take on Michigan State.
His next trip to Columbus came in April 2013, when the Buckeyes hosted a big slate of visitors. He was on campus to see the school he had just committed to once again and also help recruit for the 2014 class. Webb was probably the leader of the 2014 class, just as Cam Burrows was for Ohio State's 2013 class.
Webb was in Columbus once again at the beginning of June for the NFTC camp, where he was invited to "The Opening". During the visit, he got to spend a fair amount of time at the school.
"I just love Ohio State, this is the place for me," Webb told me after getting invited to The Opening. "Just talking to the coaches and I just can't wait to get on campus next year."
Right before heading to The Opening, Webb received his final college offer from the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban and company couldn't pass up an opportunity to try and sneak one from Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. Obviously the offer had little to no impact on Webb's recruitment.
In July, he participated in The Opening, along with many of his future Ohio State teammates. He also attended Friday Night Lights for the second straight year, where he was once again one of the top performers at the camp.
It was then time for his last season of high school football. Unfortunately for Webb and his teammates, the Technicians fell short in the playoffs in their quest to win a third straight state title, ending his football career at Cass Tech. He had another dominate year on the football field though personally, totaling 42 tackles to go along with 8 interceptions and 14 pass breakups.
He took his official visit to Columbus – his second of the football season (also visited for the Wisconsin game) on December 13th – where he got to hang out with many of his future teammates in the town he will soon call home for three to five years.
Last month he capped off a dominate high school career by participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. His recruitment ended last Wednesday when he signed his National Letter of Intent and faxed it to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, officially becoming a member of the Ohio State football team.
In his press conference last week, Urban Meyer said guys like Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore, Erick Smith, and company weren't coming to Columbus to redshirt, so we can probably expect the elite cornerback signee to receive some amount of playing time, though it's tough to tell just how much.
Land-Grant Holy Land's own Christopher Jason gave Webb high praise after watching the lockdown corner in-action:
Webb is as complete of a cornerback coming out of high school as there is in the country. He is the total package; the size, the athleticism, the skill set and the attitude to succeed at Ohio State. Coverage wise he is very physical and excels in press-man. In a 7-7 tournament, Webb was lined up against future SEC Freshman of the Year Laquon Treadwell and Webb made him a non-factor. Treadwell could not shake Webb off the line or get separation downfield.
Webb is physical within the first five yards then sticks to his receiver like glue. He has very fluid hips, which allow him to mirror the receiver and break on the ball quickly. When the ball is in the air he reads the receiver's eyes and either fights through the hands for the deflection or gets his head around to high-point the ball for the interception. In run support, Webb sets the edge very well and loves contact for a cornerback. When it's all said and done, I would be surprised if Webb is not one of the best shutdown corners in school history.
It will be interesting to see how Webb performs in camps this fall, but I definitely agree that he has the chance to become a very good corner at the college (and potentially professional) level if his game keeps growing at the rate it is right now.
In my opinion, Webb is a five-star player, even though none of the four major recruiting services rated him as such. Buckeye fans should be very excited to watch Webb develop over the course of his football career at Ohio State.
Obligatory GIF, Highlights
Did you know...
Webb played a big role in leading his high school team to two consecutive state championships starring at cornerback *and* wide receiver.
Also, Ohio State is trying to land two of his former high school teammates in the 2015 recruiting class in the form of running back Mike Weber and defensive end Joshua Alabi.
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