This is the third installment in a series where Buckeye Huddle looks back on each member of Ohio State’s 2023 signing class and the impact they had as rookies, as well as the impact they could have during the upcoming 2024 season. Up next is safety Jayden Bonsu.
Ohio State signed Jayden Bonsu out of St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, New Jersey where he was one of the top safeties in the 2023 recruiting class. The Buckeyes received his commitment in August of 2022, but then they had to hold off a late charge from Miami down the stretch.
Bonsu was rated the No. 24 safety in the nation and the No. 4 player in the state of New Jersey. He also held offers from Alabama, Clemson, USC, Michigan, Penn State, and others. As a senior at St. Peter’s, he produced 70 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and an interception.
Jayden Bonsu (6-1 205) did not enroll early for the Buckeyes, which means he didn’t show up until June and missed out on winter workouts and spring practice. With the late start and relative depth at the safety position for Ohio State, Bonsu redshirted and did not see any on-field action for the Buckeyes in 2023.
The redshirt wasn’t entirely unexpected, especially at a place like Ohio State.
“His strengths are his size, his physicality, and ability to run. I think he’s more fluid than people give him credit for. I think his skill set is pretty deep, pretty deep. He can do a lot,” St. Peter’s Prep head coach Rich Hansen III told Buckeye Huddle back in May.
“His challenges, I think making the transition always is gonna be how do those things scale when everybody around you is fast and strong and big and physical also. And then just picking up a college playbook. Having high expectations is one thing, and then I think the challenge is always going to be how are you able to transition into a college playbook and the preparation that that takes week in and week out, even for high IQ Player. I’ve seen it time and time again where sometimes guys just need a little bit longer because it is so different than the high school level.”
So Now What For Jayden Bonsu?
Jayden Bonsu is more of a strong safety than free safety, and he is extremely comfortable helping out in the box against the run. In his time in high school he defended the entire field, whether it was as a deep safety, linebacker, or a nickel. Wherever he was needed, he brought his tool belt.
Ohio State did that this past season with sophomore Sonny Styles, who may have provided some type of blue print. Styles was able to move seamlessly from Sam linebacker to deep safety to nickel. It’s a lot to ask any player, but the flexibility to play multiple spots is a value that coaches are always seeking out.
“Absolutely. I think it’s the most sought-after position defensively, guys who have that flexibility, right?” Hansen said. “They don’t have to be pigeonholed into doing one thing. And I think for Jayden, he’s been able to do that so far in his high school career and he’s watched other guys do it both at Ohio State and across the country.”
The Buckeyes return starting strong safety Lathan Ransom, as well as backup Ja’Had Carter. It remains to be seen what new safeties coach Matt Guerrieri thinks of his players and the best positions for them. Could he and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles want Lathan Ransom to move to free safety? Or might Ja’Had Carter be at free safety competing for a starting spot, thereby leaving a key backup spot available for Bonsu?
Regardless of who is where, this spring will be an opportunity for Bonsu to show his coaches that they need to make some plans for him. The effort is going to be there, but the results need to be as well. If they are, then this Ohio State secondary is going to be even better than one people are already expecting to be great.