When it was needed most, Ohio State went somewhere that they have gone just a few times before since the hiring of head coach Urban Meyer. That's the JUCO route, as '17 CB Kendall Sheffield of Blinn College (TX) has put pen to paper and is now officially a member of the Buckeyes.
Sheffield had an unconventional path that ultimately led him to commit to Ohio State less than one month ago. The 6'0, 185-pounder signed to Alabama out of high school. Sheffield would depart from the Crimson Tide after his redshirt freshman season and take his talents to Texas to suit up for the Buccaneers.
First things first: it is important to clarify that Sheffield was not pushed out of the door in Tuscaloosa nor was he a problem amongst the football program — at least that's how Nick Saban relayed the message. According to AL.com, Saban told reporters that they would be "happy to have him back" and continued by saying "we enjoy having him a part of the team."
From my perspective, this seems to be a situation in which Sheffield was hopeful to play a bigger role at Alabama when arriving on campus. Now, after spending one year at a junior college, Sheffield will have a tremendous opportunity to step in right away as a Buckeye and potentially start for Greg Schiano and Kerry Coombs' defense.
Ohio State will be without Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker, and Marshon Lattimore this upcoming season, as that trio is headed to the NFL. That leaves a void at a few spots in the back end that the Buckeyes have to fill, and Sheffield may be the answer to one of those vacancies.
Sheffield has plenty of talent and his offer sheet backs it up. The Lonestar State prospect acquired offers from Ohio State, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, and USC while at Blinn College. Combine that with the fact that Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Penn State, and many more wanted him out of high school, and the proof is obvious.
Sheffield will join the program as the third best JUCO prospect in the country, the best CB at that level, and the very best JUCO player from Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite. Now, he will head to Columbus with his four-star grade and being highly regarded at Blinn College in his rear view but opportunity right in arms reach. The newest Buckeye will have three years to play two for Ohio State and it might not be very long before Sheffield is making plays on the back end for the Scarlet and Gray.
Sheffield is a very physical cornerback and he wants you to know that. His first two plays of his JUCO highlight film are runs to the opposite side of the field, but the wide receiver tasked with blocking him ended up on the ground anyway. Sheffield’s fondness of contact is rare in a cornerback, but it’s this physicality, combined with Sheffield’s ideal long frame and athleticism, that makes him a current frontrunner to earn one of the Buckeyes’ starting cornerback spots for 2017.
Sheffield was a five-star recruit at Alabama before transferring to Blinn College after his freshman year. He displayed game-breaking ability at Blinn, where he regularly was utilized as a returner and he made the most out of every opportunity that he got the ball in his hands. On defense, Sheffield was rarely given safety help and he displayed the ability to not only keep up with wide receivers on deep routes, but also the ability to get his head around and make a play on the ball.
Sheffield is the most polished cornerback in Ohio State’s 2017 class, though he’ll still need to work on trusting his eyes and not letting himself get pulled out of position in an attempt to make a big play. Additionally, Sheffield will have to prove that he’s able to match up with elite Division I wide receivers after dominating junior college competition last season. Expect to see Ohio State’s newest lanky cornerback on the field early and often. — Ian Hartitz