Welcome to a new series here at Land-Grant Holy Land — Freshman Focus. With the calendar turning over to March and spring on the horizon, the players will be working their way back to the practice fields to prepare for the 2021 campaign. That being the case, now is a great time to introduce you to Ohio State’s incredibly talented freshman class. Each edition of Freshman Focus will highlight one of the newest Buckeyes, and will hopefully provide a glimpse at what they will bring to the team in the coming years.
Today’s freshman: Jordan Hancock.
Hailing out of Suwanee, GA, Jordan Hancock comes to Ohio State as a four-star prospect and the No. 5 cornerback in the 2021 class. As the No. 72 overall prospect in the cycle, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound defensive back is one of two top-100 nationally ranked corners that Kerry Coombs and the Buckeyes have added to the roster in this recruiting class. While Hancock eventually wound up calling Columbus home, Ohio State was not his first choice during the process.
There was clearly mutual interest between the two parties since the beginning, but the Buckeyes appeared to have lost out on Hancock when he committed to Clemson on March 11, 2020. A big factor in his commitment to the Tigers was linebacker Barrett Carter — a high school teammate of Hancock’s at North Gwinnett who also chose to commit to Clemson. The two wanted to play together at the next level, and while Ohio State was very interested in landing Carter as well, he was staunch in his decision to stick with the Tigers.
Hancock, on the other hand, was not nearly as sold, and he made that clear when he de-committed from the program on July 14. It wasn’t too long after that — less than a week later in fact, on July 19 — that Hancock committed to Ohio State, and that is where he remained up until he made things official by signing on the dotted line this past December. Hancock had been chatting it up with Buckeye coaches and commits on social media in the weeks leading up to his de-commitment from Clemson, and once he was back on the market it was clear that he was going to end up in scarlet and gray.
The two college football powerhouses were not the only heavy hitters looking to add the talented DB to their roster. Hancock racked up a whopping 45 offers on the trail, including all of the nation’s biggest names among the likes of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon and many more. As Coombs has done so many times in the past, he was able to seal the deal with Hancock with a combination of his eccentric personality and prestigious track record of producing NFL talent in the defensive secondary.
Like so many of his fellow 2021 classmates, Hancock’s final season of high school football did not exactly go as planned thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally, the North Gwinnett star opted out of his senior season, deciding it would be best for him and his family if he sat out for the year as both of his parents have underlying health conditions. However, after thinking things over with his family once more, Hancock decided to opt back in to his senior season in October, playing the final five games of the campaign with the Bulldogs.
Even with only half of his final year, Hancock showed out at North Gwinnett, helping to lead the school to three regional titles and one state championship over his high school career. He recorded two interceptions and 12 pass breakups as a junior in the 2019-20 season, with another pick and four PBU’s in his shortened stint as a senior. A multi-sport athlete, Hancock is also a star on the basketball court, as well as a track-runner for the Bulldogs. His overall build and freak athleticism are what have helped him to become one of the nation’s top cornerback prospects.
He has the highlight tape to back it up as well:
As is to be expected with a recruit of his caliber, Hancock has drawn some very high praise for his skillset on the field. In fact, he is already drawing Day 2 NFL Draft grades from guys like 247Sports national writer Charles Power, who compared him to Byron Murphy — a corner for the Arizona Cardinals that has started 13 games and broken up 18 passes in his first two seasons in the league. Power also lauded his abilities in coverage and praised his ball skills.
“Turned in a stellar junior season against some of the nation’s toughest competition in Georgia’s highest classification,” Power says in his scouting report. “Has a pure cover corner skill set with the ability to flip his hip and change direction quickly. Shows high-level ball skills as he locates and tracks the ball downfield. Closes quickly in defending the quick game. Instinctive and versatile with the ability to play multiple spots within the secondary. Doesn’t shy away from contact and looks to be a willing tackler. Projects as a multi-year starter in the secondary at the Power Five level with the upside of developing into an early round NFL Draft pick.”
Hancock comes to Ohio State at a great time, as the secondary could certainly use some work from what we saw last season. With Shaun Wade off to the NFL, the Buckeyes will return both Sevyn Banks, who started opposite Wade at the other cornerback spot, and Marcus Williamson, who played both slot corner and safety in 2020. While there are a number of young guys in front of him both from the existing roster and from the class before him, Hancock will certainly get a chance to compete for a job.
It is unlikely we see Hancock’s name at the top of the depth chart to start the season in 2021, as those roles will likely go to guys like Cam Brown — who missed the majority of the 2020 season with an achilles injury — and the players that have been on the team for a season or two already, but don't sleep on Hancock becoming an important part of the rotation in the secondary right from the jump. There is a reason Ohio State continued to recruit Hancock so heavily even once he committed to Clemson, and we will hopefully get to see that talent play out sooner rather than later.
Between he and Jakailin Johnson — who will be the subject of the next edition of Freshman Focus — the Ohio State secondary is in good shape moving forward.