The Buckeyes are looking to replace Malik Hooker, a safety that was arguably the best defensive back in the nation last season. They hope to have that in four-star commit Isaiah Pryor.
Pryor committed to Ohio State back in July of 2015, and enrolled at the school last month. He’s got good size at 6’2 and 195 pounds. Pryor was the No. 7 safety in the nation in the class, and No. 10 player in the state of Florida, per the 247Sports Composite. Pryor is originally from Lawrenceville, Georgia, but made his way to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Pryor was recruited by Kerry Coombs and former Ohio State defensive coordinator turned Rutgers head coach Chris Ash. Pryor told Bleacher Report in July of 2015, "I just looked at all of the other schools and weighed the pros and cons. Ohio State has been on me for a really long time and I felt most comfortable with them."
Meet safety @D1Zay13 as we round out our profiles on the 9 early enrollees of #Select17.#GoBucks pic.twitter.com/kZdD4rPoPA— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) January 31, 2017
IMG head coach Kevin Wright told Land of 10 that he was impressed with Pryor’s stature. “I don’t think there’s anything average about Isaiah physically. He’s got a grown man’s body right now. I think he’ll continue to get thicker as he gets older. A lot of that comes from hard work.”
Wright also said that Pryor is a consistent performer, which would fit in well with the Ohio State defense. The Silver Bullets were consistently the Buckeyes’ best unit, and you knew what you were going to see out of them every Saturday.
Coombs had mentioned the possibility of moving Pryor to corner. If that’s the case, there’s room for competition at the position with both starters from last season — Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore — heading for the NFL. If Pryor is going to remain at safety, the previously mentioned departure of Malik Hooker is the only opening there, with Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller also hoping to fill that spot.
Pryor’s coming to Ohio State because he feels a mutual appreciation and trust between himself and the coaching staff:
A letter to Buckeye Nation from #Select17's @D1Zay13.#NSD17 pic.twitter.com/Hs9peZUTD2— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) February 1, 2017
Isaiah Pryor is as complete of a safety as there is at his age. Checking in at 6'1 ½”, 195 pounds, Pryor already possesses the size to see the field right away — especially since he has already been introduced to the Ohio State weight program. The Lawrenceville, GA product is already the total package, because he has the strength and tackling ability to make plays in run support, along with the range to play centerfield.
Pryor’s coverage skills are superb and playing cornerback at IMG Academy (along with safety) has only helped him in this area. Pryor can walk down and play man-to-man in the slot and fight through stalk blocks on the perimeter to make plays on screens and in the run game. As a safety, he does not allow receivers to get behind him and he possesses excellent ball skills to break up or intercept deep passes at the highest point. He has great sideline-to-sideline range which allows him to make plays all over the field in coverage.
Against the run, Pryor does a great job at dissecting a run play, getting out of his back pedal and coming downhill to make the tackle. He is very athletic and it shows when he is fighting through the trash to get to the ball carrier. The only negative is that Pryor tends to cut the ball carrier, rather than squaring his hips and running through the ball carrier, which will change under Coach Schiano tutelage. Overall, the Buckeyes got another great safety out of the state of Georgia and Pryor will eventually be a cornerstone in the Ohio State secondary. — Christopher Jason