Ohio State had to fend off a late charge by Miami to land safety Jayden Bonsu out of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey. Michigan State, Alabama, Clemson, USC, Michigan, and Penn State were some of the other suitors for the hard-hitting safety.
Bonsu was ranked a four-star prospect and the No. 24 safety in the nation overall. The 247Sports Composite had him as the No. 4 player in the state of New Jersey and the No. 273 player in the 2023 class.
What To Like
Jayden Bonsu is listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, so he’s got adequate size for any of the Ohio State safety positions. He’s an intelligent player who understands leverage and where the ball is going. This allows him to trigger quickly and get to the ball before a receiver or runner can move too far upfield.
Bonsu is a physical safety who can be an extra linebacker when needed — and that can be an inside backer, an outside guy, or even somebody who sets the edge and fights to keep the play inside.
His high school coach called him “stoic” and “businesslike,” and all of those attributes show on and off the field. Bonsu understands his purpose on every play, and when he gets to the ball, business definitely picks up.
Given his size already, it will be interesting to see where Jayden Bonsu eventually lines up. His size and skillset are reminiscent of Ohio State captain Kourt Williams. Positional flexibility is a commodity in today’s game, and if Bonsu develops as expected, you could see him as a third linebacker on one play, a nickel defender on the next, and a deep safety on the play after that.
These are duties that Bonsu has manned before. When you watch his highlights, you will see him line up everywhere. Ohio State won’t ask him to do anything he can’t, which is why he’ll be put through a lot in practices over this year and next in order to see what he can and can’t do.
Wherever they put him, however, he’ll never back away from an opportunity for contact.
Unless he happens to be blitzing (which he will), wherever Jayden Bonsu lines up, he’s going to have to defend the pass. With his size already, it’s easier to project him more as a strong safety type. Somebody who will play a little closer to the line of scrimmage, rather than being a lone deep safety.
However, in Ohio State’s defense, a strong safety may have to defend the deep half of the boundary side of the field. There are times he will need to be a deep safety or handle man coverage on a slot receiver or tight end. It’s a tough ask, which is why they can’t ask just anybody to do it.
The one thing you can probably expect is that defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will be pleased with the pace that Bonsu picks up the playbook.
The Bottom Line
Don’t be surprised if Jayden Bonsu finds a spot on special teams as a true freshman. The Buckeyes are deep at safety this year, so playing time on defense is going to be difficult to find. They could be losing three starters after this season, however, so any experience gained this season can be cashed in next year.
Bonsu possesses some Swiss Army knife possibilities for the Buckeyes, but before they can ask him to do many different things, he has to get good at each thing they would like to ask of him. That can take some time. Bonsu picks things up quickly, so it will be interesting to watch what the future holds for such a versatile defender in an ever-changing game.
It will also be interesting to see how Knowles’ defense changes with the recruiting advantages he now owns.
Previous Closer Look editions
Quarterback Lincoln Kienholz | Wide Receiver Carnell Tate | Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss | Tight End Jelani Thurman | Offensive Lineman Vic Cutler | Offensive Lineman Luke Montgomery | Defensive End Joshua Mickens | Defensive Tackle Kayden McDonald | Defensive Tackle Jason Moore | Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr. | Cornerback Davison Igbinosun | Safety Ja’Had Carter