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Buckeyes falling for one cornerback, but moving in on another

It looks like Ohio State is closing in on landing a 4-star cornerback.

247Sports

Corner questions?

A few weeks ago, it looked a whole lot like Ohio State had backed into the lead for four-star cornerback Henry Gray. Gray, a long time Clemson lead, was suddenly no longer a top priority for the Tigers, and because the Buckeyes were in second place, they became the presumed leader. The consensus was that Gray would likely visit Ohio State this spring, and perhaps commit shortly after.

Now, as we near June, that visit hasn’t happened. Gray is still interested in Ohio State and vice versa, but the Miami product hasn’t shown a ton of interest in a return visit to Columbus. Instead, he’s taken a visit to Miami, received an offer from Alabama, and hosted Penn State assistant Ja’Juan Seider.

That last note is important, because it seems as though Gray has a pretty defined top five right now, and the leader is a new face: the Nittany Lions. Penn State has been on Gray for a while, but they’ve really been pushing hard as of the last few weeks. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him on campus sooner than later, and as a few choice crystal ball predictions on 247Sports have stated, I wouldn’t be surprised if Gray ends up in the blue and white.

So, where does that leave Ohio State? Now, in 2020, Ohio State has Lejond Cavazos, but there’s a good chance he could land at safety, and past him, the options are, well, sparse. The Buckeyes have looked as Elias Ricks and Kelee Ringo, but both are long shots at this point.

Enter Clark Phillips III. The California four-star doesn’t get as much hype as the five-star duo mentioned before, but he’s an elite prospect, and he’s very interested in Ohio State. Not just “wants to visit” interested, but “could commit at any time” interested. The two sides are very serious, and I would be shocked at this point if Phillips ends up anywhere but Columbus.

That brings us to the next question, as recruiting so often does: when? That’s harder to definitively say. Often, commitment timing can depend on visit timing, and we don’t have a set date for that yet. There’s been chatter that he may look to take an official visit in late June, but I haven’t confirmed that, so it shouldn’t be taken as gospel.

Regardless of the specifics, I expect that visit to happen at some point over the summer, and a commitment to follow closely. Once Ohio State has Phillips locked up, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see someone like Ricks, Ringo or Gray give Ohio State another look. With so many recruits in “wait and see” mode, a commitment like Phillips makes a pretty massive splash.

Buckeyes crack the top five for top player

Almost all of the talk about Ohio State running back targets in 2020 has, for good reason, focused on Kendall Milton, Bijan Robinson, Michael Drennen, Deamonte Trayanum and Jutahn McClain. Those are, after all, the five main running backs that Ohio State is interested in taking this year, and even more specifically, it’s seemed for a while now like Milton, Drennen and Trayanum are the three of that group to really key on.

Last night, the best player in the country threw a little wrench in that. Scratch that, it was a massive wrench, because Zachary Evans included Ohio State in his top five, alongside Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Oklahoma.

Now, much of the talk around this has been less about the teams on the list, and more about the teams not on it. Specifically, Evans’ home state schools, Texas and Texas A&M. Texas was the longtime presumed favorite, and considered by many to be the runaway winner of the Evans sweepstakes. Now, a top five list isn’t legally binding, but the snub of those two schools, when paired with the list he did put out, paints a story consistent with what Evans has told reporters he’s looking for in a school: competition, and titles.

How do these schools match up? Well, Alabama churns out an NFL running back every year, as does Georgia. LSU is perhaps the most storied program in the country when it comes to running backs, Ohio State isn’t far behind, and Oklahoma has the best offense of all time. Four of the five schools have made a playoff appearance, and the odd school out is a consistent top ten team.

Texas and Texas A&M are, well, not on that level, and it seems that Evans has punished them accordingly.

Enough about the rest of the list. What does this mean for Ohio State, a team that many didn’t think even recruiting Evans? Well, right now, it’s hard to say. He’s planning a summer visit, and a ton of his recruitment hinges on how that visit goes. If he has a great experience, and lets Ohio State know that they have a real shot, he jumps to the top of Ohio State’s board. If that visit either doesn’t happen, or doesn’t blow him away, expect Ohio State to serve as a hat on the table, and not much else.

It should be noted here, before anyone asks, that Ohio State isn’t going to be “turning down” Kendall Milton because of this. The Buckeyes are all in on Milton, and if he wants to commit, he will be accepted immediately. The Buckeyes would happily take both, or either.