Stars Align For Buckeyes on Signing Day


Here are the players who have sent letters of intent to Ohio State today!

Jakob James is one of six Cincinnati-area players the Buckeyes expect to sign. The offensive lineman has an uncle (Dan, who won a championship in 1959 and would go on to play for the Steelers) and a cousin (Tim) who played for the Buckeyes.

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Trey Leroux received his Ohio State offer and watched his older brother, Tche, win All-Ohio wrestling honors in a meet at the Schottenstein Center all on the same day. It was a big afternoon, even for the 6’8”, 355-pound offensive lineman, who can—incidentally—do a full split, despite his size.

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Lejond Cavazos’s father, CJ, named him Lejond (pronounced legend), because “I wanted him to be great,” he told The Athletic. In pursuit of that greatness, Lejond transferred from his Texas high school to IMG Academy in Florida, a football factory with more players on the 2019 NFL opening day rosters than any other. And while the IMG coaching staff may have helped him learn more about the fundamentals of playing defensive back, he was already blessed with speed. In fact, the corner once won a fastest man competition at a recruiting camp while staring at his opponent. That speed also impressed Urban Meyer, who—fortunately for the Buckeyes—had been a friend for decades of the elder Cavazos, with CJ having met Meyer when Meyer was an assistant at Notre Dame and Cavazos was an assistant in the high school ranks. He needed re-recruited after Meyer’s departure, but Lejond eventually decided to commit to Ryan Day’s program.

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Jacolbe Cowan announced his decision to come to Ohio State from on the football field where he played defensive end for his North Carolina high school. He is listed, however, by 247Sports as a potential tackle, and at 6’5”, 262 pounds it’s easy to see why. His first scholarship offer came from Georgia, but he would eventually choose the Buckeyes over the Bulldogs. North Carolina and Tennessee were also schools he was considering as finalists.

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Ohio State is bringing in an incredible haul of wide receivers this year, and headlining that list is Julian Fleming. According to 247Sports’ rankings, he’s the second-best player in the class of 2020, behind only Clemson commit Bryan Bresee. He’s the top ranked player at his position, and the top ranked player coming out of Pennsylvania. During his senior year, Fleming’s team won every single game they played, including the state championship, by mercy rule. Also in that title game, Fleming recorded two touchdown receptions, giving him 78 for his career, a new state record.

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When Buckeye recruiting experts talk about putting a wall around the state of Ohio, Paris Johnson, Jr. is the type of prospect they are talking about keeping home. The Cincinnati-area native is the player 247Sports ranks as the top offensive tackle in the country and seventh best player in the class of 2020 overall. The 6’7”, 299-pound lineman does more than make opponents look hapless, though. He also has a vision beyond the field. He speaks Mandarin Chinese, has excelled in the classroom, and is an active volunteer in various charitable efforts.

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The younger brother of Notre Dame’s Shayne Simon, Cody Simon is a freakishly athletic linebacker out of New Jersey. How athletic? At one of the top recruiting camps in the country, his fitness testing put him in the 98th percentile. He played basketball his freshman and sophomore year of high school, but stopped after that so he could bulk up for football, and now he’s listed as 6’1”, 218 pounds. Simon averaged 8.8 tackles per game and 4.5 sacks and 4 interceptions his senior season.

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Grant Toutant is a 6’7”, 320-pound former gymnast whose most recent flip came, not on the beam or pommel horse or vault, but in the world of college football recruiting. The offensive lineman decommitted from Penn State to choose the Buckeyes.

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Despite being incredibly deep at center, Ohio State has landed one of the top prospects (No. 2 according to 247Sports) at the position, and the top player out of New Jersey. In fact, not only did OSU land Luke Wypler, but they held on to him though a time of remarkable transition. He committed in July of 2018 and basically cut off communication with other schools. That did not change, even though Urban Meyer retired. His commitment was solidified when he was wowed by a recruiting visit to Ohio State the weekend of the Cincinnati game, which he told Letterman Row is the only college football game he has ever seen live. Wypler also wrestled at St. Joseph Regional and grew up playing rugby.

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An honest-to-goodness spreadsheet helped Melton Mitchell decide to sign with Ohio State. He’s an outside linebacker who is ranked by 247Sports as the 19th best prospect coming out of Maryland.

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Cincinnati Elder’s Joe Royer is in the top ten of prospects from the state of Ohio (No. 9) and ranked as the 11th best tight end in this class by 247Sports.

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Defensive lineman Ty Hamilton played for the state champion Tigers of Pickerington Central, and now heads to Ohio State. It's a path similar to that of his brother, Buckeye Davon Hamilton. He's in the top 25 (No. 24) of players from Ohio according to 247Sports.

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Jake Seibert is one of the top kickers in the country. 247Sports has him ranked second at the position. He told Eleven Warriors that the longest kick he’s made in practice is from 68 yards out.

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Ohio State was scrambling to add a running back to this class, but fortunately for them, Miyan Williams was just down I-71 at Winton Woods piling up 5,823 yards and 68 touchdowns in his high school career. He was the 2018 runner-up for Ohio’s Mr. Football award.

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Josh Fryar is a 6’6”, 305 offensive lineman of Beech Grove, Indiana, whom 247Sports ranks as the third best player to come from the state.

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Many analysts have remarked on the quality of the wide receivers Ohio State is adding this signing day, and that all started with Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who was the first receiver to verbally commit to the Scarlet and Gray. Since that time, he has risen up the recruiting rankings. He started barely in the top 300 (No. 289) in the 247Sports rankings before eventually climbing to No. 33. And when on the stage with other highly regarded prospects, he’s stood out. Smith-Njigba had 23 catches and four touchdowns at recruiting showcase The Opening. He also has made history in his home state of Texas. He finished his career with 5,403 receiving yards, which is the third highest total ever in the state.

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It has been an eventful last year for wide receiver Mookie Cooper. Heading into the season, Rivals rated him as the top athlete in the recruiting class, but just three days before their opener, he transferred from Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis, because they would not have allowed him to enroll early at Ohio State. The state’s governing body ruled that made him ineligible, so he did not play a down at Pattonville. However, he still has a resume that suggests he could be a formidable H-back. During his junior campaign, Cooper recorded 869 receiving yards and an additional 284 rushing. He scored 18 touchdowns, and incredibly averaged around 30 yards a catch.

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The two players 247Sports lists as being the best prospects in the state of Ohio were teammates at Princeton High School. One is top ranked offensive tackle Paris Johnson. The other is defensive tackle Darrion Henry. The two are also childhood friends, and are they expected to both enroll early at OSU together. However, Henry is more than a bonus to landing Johnson. He’s a talented player in his own right with 45 tackles, 20 quarterback hurries and 6.5 sacks this past season.

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A two-way star in high school, Lathan Ransom is expected to line up at safety for Ohio State. In fact, 247Sports rates him as the fifth best safety in this recruiting class. However, he has also made an impact for Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, AZ) on offense with over 700 total yards and 13 touchdowns. On defense, Max Preps records Ransom as having 58 tackles and three sacks. Opponents had learned to avoid him by his senior year, but during the prior season’s campaign, Ransom had six interceptions.

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Although he committed to Oklahoma in April, Ryan Watts took a couple visits to Ohio State after that, and what he saw on those visits convinced him to flip his commitment to the Buckeyes this October. Another factor in his decision? The corner out of Texas developed a relationship with another defensive back out of the Lonestar State: Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah. Watts is 6’3” with a long wingspan, and he ran a 4.59-second 40-yard dash while posting a 38” vertical jump at a regional recruiting camp in March.

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Various injuries, including to his back, knee and shoulder, would abbreviate Jack Miller’s high school career more than he would have liked, but Ohio State saw more than enough in the pro-style quarterback to want to bring him into the fold. While at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Miller passed for 115 touchdowns in 38 games, 15 of those touchdowns came during his senior season. Miller has repeatedly said that he is unbothered by the idea of Ohio State bringing in another quarterback in this recruiting class, which he proved with his signing, but he will probably still watch CJ Stroud’s press conference at 12:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

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According to Cleveland.com, Gee Scott, Jr. is the first prospect to commit to Ohio State out of Washington since at least 2000, when 247Sports started ranking high school players. Scott will take fond memories of the “Evergreen State” with him to Columbus, because he just won a storybook-like state championship in a game in which his Eastside Catholic Crusaders avenged a loss from earlier in the season, he was able to showcase his versatility (Scott is a wide receiver, who also plays defensive back and even punts), and his friend Jerry was able to watch. Jerry is a homeless man the Scott family has embraced and transported to games to watch the future Buckeye, and that story is notably and memorably told here by King 5 News in Seattle.

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Kourt Williams will come to Ohio State from the same California high school as Buckeye offensive lineman Wyatt Davis: St. John Bosco Prep. But he’s more than just evidence that OSU has worked hard to recruit out west; he’s also a candidate to help out the Buckeyes at the bullet position. He was already basically performing in that role for the state champion Braves. “He’s 6-2, 215 pounds with a linebacker frame but he can really run and cover,” his high school defensive coordinator, Chris King, told 247Sports.

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He didn’t start until his junior year, and he also played basketball, so the belief of analysts is that pro-style quarterback CJ Stroud has yet to show his full potential. Despite that, he is still the second ranked pocket passer in the 2020 recruiting class, and he was the MVP performer at the Elite 11 recruiting camp. Stroud hails from the Los Angeles area, and that has made things markedly tougher for him. He told The Athletic, “You kind of get involved — not really every kid, but every kid kind of sees the gang-banging and everything.” He also told The Athletic that, at age 12, he made a list of the colleges for which he’d be interested in playing. Ohio State was on it.

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