As we wade through the 2013 recruiting waters position by position, it is time to take a deeper look into what is going on in the defensive backfield. We previously looked at the quarterback, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, and linebacker positions.
Coming into this class, there was a pressing need to add some big time playmakers in the defensive backfield. As the post-spring depth chart showed, the Buckeyes are not only suspect in terms of overall difference makers, but are very thin in terms of numbers. Last year's haul of Armani Reeves, Devan Bogard, Najee Murray and Tyvis Powell was a step in the right direction, but did not eliminate the need. Reeves and Murray could both wind up in the two-deep right away this fall, Bogard may grow into a linebacker, and Powell still needs to prove he is a potential contributor down the road.
Thankfully, the 2013 class has already produced a lot of those future playmakers, and we are only in June. Two of the top corners in the class, Cameron Burrows and Eli Woodward, committed early in the process. Both guys are tall, athletic corners, something that is hard to find at the position, and solidify the future there. I could go on, but I think everyone knows how elite these two are and what they'll bring to the table down the road.
At safety the staff already has commitments from Jayme Thompson, and now recently, Darron Lee. Thompson was a pick up that surprised some folks when he committed back in April. He's already proven on the camp circuit this summer, though, that he can flat out perform and has top-notch athleticism. As for Lee, he earned a scholarship after two solid performances in front of the staff at camps. While he currently projects at safety at the next level, at 6-2 205 pounds there still is a very real possibility he slides down and plays linebacker. Depending on how the recruiting game plays out for the staff from here until February will likely dictate where he ends up.
Chris Worley (6-2 185 pounds, Cleveland Glenville HS) - Worley is the latest product from the Glenville pipeline. He's out of the same mold as the aforementioned Darron Lee, as the staff is talking to him about playing safety, star or linebacker. He does line up in multiple spots for the Tarblooders as well, but actually played a lot of linebacker this past season next to Devan Bogard. Right now he holds offers from the likes of Ohio State, Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Illinois, Michigan State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and others. If the staff wants him bad enough, I don't see him going anywhere else.
Vonn Bell (6-1 190 pounds, Rossville, GA) - Bell (a safety) is easily the highest priority on this list, and his decision will ultimately dictate how the dominoes will fall in terms of defensive back recruiting for the staff. He camped at Ohio State earlier this month and walked away with MVP honors. If he wasn't already one of the top priorities for the staff before camp, he definitely was after. His junior stat line reads like something from an EA Sports game: 180 total tackles, 119 solo tackles, five interceptions, three forced fumbles and three recoveries for touchdowns. He holds offers from the likes of Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Texas and UCLA. As of right now it is pretty wide open for all the schools on his list, but he will be naming a top seven soon.
Jalen Ramsey (6-0 183 pounds, Nashville,TN) - Ramsey is arguably the best player in the state of Tennessee this year and has the offers to prove it. Schools like Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Miami (FL), Ohio State, Penn State and USC have extended offers to the cornerback. Right now the Trojans are whispered to be the team to beat, especially after his visit there this week. He is planning on visiting Columbus, and that visit should give a lot more evidence to where the Buckeyes stand for his services.
Cornelius Elder (5-11 170 pounds, Nashville, TN) - Elder is one of the more intriguing players left on the board for the Buckeyes. He really desires to play basketball at the next level, but he is only getting big time offers to play football. A quick glance at his film tells you why, the young man has some serious wheels. The staff is looking at him to play at slot receiver or corner, making him yet another athlete that projects to multiple positions. He's planning a visit to Ohio State this fall, and I really think the Buckeyes have a good shot at landing him. His recruitment is still heating up though, and I fully expect some other big programs (in the ACC/SEC) to come knocking.
Other Out-of-State Player to Watch:
Mackensie Alexander (5-11 185 pounds, Immokalee, FL) - I think he likes the Buckeyes, but has way too many appealing options in the south. Keep your eye on his recruitment.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin (6-1 210 pounds Clarksville, TN) - An athlete that could play multiple spots and holds an offer so I included his name on this list. I don't see much happening between him and the Buckeyes though.
At this point the only guarantee is Vonn Bell. The staff wants him and will hold out for him as long as it takes. Outside of that, I think things may depend on the numbers game and how things shake out at other positions. I would not be surprised to see Worley or Elder in this class when the dust settles. Both could end up at other spots, as could Darron Lee.