With all of the offensive commitments scouted and analyzed, we are now moving on to the defense — the side of the ball subject to lots of criticism the past few years. However, that is changing fast as the Buckeyes seem to have found an adequate play caller in Matt Barnes. That and the youth movement the Buckeyes have committed to has led to an improved unit, finally playing young stars J.T Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer alongside Denzel Burke who was already getting significant snaps.
An infusion of defensive talent is needed once again for the 2022 recruiting class, and so far this group is shaping up to have a ton of potential future All-Americans.
Current Defensive Commitments
Edge: Kenyatta Jackson Jr.
Defensive Tackles: None
Linebackers: C.J. Hicks, Gabe Powers
Defensive Backs: Terrance Brooks, Jyaire Brown, Ryan Turner and Kye Stokes
Cornerback — Little Elm High School, Little Elm (Texas) — 5-foot-11, 190 lbs
Terrance Brooks is the brand of cornerback I am the biggest fan of. His skillset is one I view as the best foundation for a shutdown corner to grow from. He has natural athletic skills that are tough to teach, and the areas he does lack in can be taught when he gets to Columbus. He is the son of former Texas A&M Aggie and San Francisco 49er Chet Brooks.
Brooks is the No. 48 player nationally, the No. 8 cornerback and the No. 10 player in the talent rich state of Texas. The Lone Star State has been kind yet again to the Buckeyes in this recruitment. Have no doubt about it, this was one of the biggest recruiting battle wins of this cycle over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Saban was heavily involved personally in trying to sway Brooks to Alabama. Any time you can go head to head with the best and win is a great thing, especially when it comes to not only gaining a potential All-American, but keeping one away from your competition. Thus is the constant battle of recruiting between these top programs.
Ok now on to the skills I mentioned earlier and why I am such a huge fan of Brooks’ game. One of my favorite qualities in a corner is the ability to play press man coverage. You can put a corner on an island and just let them do their thing. Brooks absolutely excels at this aspect of the game. It also helps that he has a massive wingspan, which he can utilize in the press coverage game.
His press coverage skills are perfect for becoming the type of player that makes it so whoever is calling plays for the Buckeyes defense can simply leave him on an island and not have to worry about him. Much like Denzel Burke right now, I believe Brooks can contribute right away at Ohio State. When he gets his hands on the wide receiver off the line of scrimmage in press coverage, he shows the ability to really disrupt the rhythm of the route and get the player off balance. This leads to a lot of timing issues for the opposing quarterback in trying to get passes completed.
When he isn't playing press coverage, he shows elite closing speed out of his breaks. As soon as he sees the ball in the air, his change of direction is elite and looks effortless as he cuts and breaks up passes. He limits the opponents’ catch window and windows of opportunity with his closing speed and ability to read the quarterback’s eyes. He is a high IQ defender who has a natural feel for the flow of where the play is going, and does not get pulled in or leave his assignment on play-action pass plays.
In the rare occurrence that he does bite on a fake or a play action pass, he shows excellent recovery, and in a few instances even manages to pick off the ball for a touchdown (As you can see in his highlight film below). You can see the ultimate effort play at the 0:57 mark in his highlight tape below. I am not sure if they called this a touchdown or not, as the ref was not in the frame, but the speed and the effort Brooks shows to run down the offensive player from all the way across the field and possibly save a touchdown is very impressive.
Buckeye fans have lamented for years that they want the defensive backs to turn their head and look for the football in coverage. We aren’t totally sure if that’s more on the coaching or the players — I tend to believe its a coaching method that many of us don’t approve of. Regardless, Brooks shows a solid ability to always turn his head and locate the football, rarely only relying on a face guarding technique. He flips his hips in coverage and runs well with the opposition, and has a knack for always looking back for the football.
In the run game, Brooks is an aggressive defender that shows the ability to really hit hard. He has several plays where he sheds his block easily and chases down the running back using great angles. I think every one of us gets sick when we see a Buckeye defender taking a poor angle to make a tackle, but that will not be an issue with Brooks. Now of course, it is a highlight tape for a reason and there may be plays where he took a poor angle or missed a tackle, but the tape shows a great foundation for building blocks. Once he is in Columbus and those building blocks get added to his game, the sky is the limit for his potential.
I foresee a five-star ratings bump in his future and I definitely understand why Saban fought so hard (and lost) to take this kid from the Buckeyes. The Texas schools will still try and flip him until signing day — A&M and Texas in particular — but I have no doubts he is solid in his Ohio State commitment. Whoever the gardeners are in the Buckeye Grove better get their Buckeye tree prepped and ready for when Brooks is done with his time in Columbus, because he has All-American first round cornerback written all over him and will definitely be a great representative of BIA.