The Buckeyes had some of the premier cornerback play in the nation last year, as Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun, and Jordan Hancock all lived up to the moniker “Best In America,” and if Ohio State’s freshman class of cornerbacks has anything to say about it, that descriptor won’t be going away any time soon.
The Buckeyes signed a trio of cornerbacks in the 2024 recruiting class, and all three are already enrolled and participating in winter workouts.
Ohio State cornerbacks coach Tim Walton didn’t have to go far for two of his signees, as Aaron Scott and Bryce West came from Springfield and Cleveland, respectively. But he did go all the way out to Arizona for Miles Lockhart, who is projected to play in the slot for the Buckeyes.
Buckeye head coach Ryan Day likes his class of corners and credits Walton for making it happen.
“Yeah, well, I think Tim has done a great job identifying talent early on and building relationships,” Day said back in December on early signing day. “And then going from there, I think you’re seeing the way that our corners are playing. You’re seeing Denzel, IGB, Jordan Hancock starting to play at a high level. And I think that’s a big part of the recruiting process, seeing it on the field in [defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’] defense. And so we’ve identified these guys early on and recruited the heck out of them.”
Scott (6-2 190) is the highest-ranked of the bunch. A five-star prospect, Scott was rated the No. 4 cornerback in the class. He ultimately chose Ohio State over Michigan. The Buckeyes had him targeted early on and put him through a June workout at camp in 2022 to see what he was made of.
“Aaron Scott was somebody who came to camp early on and it was a hot day out there and he grinded,” Day recounted. “I mean, went for I think an hour and just everything we threw at him as a young player, he had a broken wrist, he kept working. And then we could tell there was a toughness there that was just a grit there. You know he wanted to earn that scholarship. And he did that day. He’s built himself up to a really, really good football player.”
West, meanwhile, played at OSU pipeline Glenville High School for head coach Ted Ginn, Sr., which means that the Buckeyes were aware of him for a very long time. They offered him at the end of his sophomore season. Like Scott, West (5-11 183) was a blue-chip prospect who chose Ohio State over Michigan.
“Bryce West, same type of thing. Again, Coach Ginn early on believed in this young man and said this guy is going to be a great player,” Day said. “And so we recruited him, but then offered him pretty early in the process. You could just see the way he played that next year. He was much more aggressive. He was tackling, making plays. And he just continued to become a better a better football player. And you know what you’re getting when you get somebody out of Glenville.”
The Buckeyes will have three former Glenville Tarblooders on the roster this year, as West and tight end classmate Damarion Witten will join rising sophomore linebacker Arvell Reese, who found a role on special teams last year.
“I’ve got to give Coach Ginn so much credit for the way he develops young men there, and they understand what it means to be a Buckeye,” Day said. “They do. And that matters. Arvell Reese has come in and worked his tail off. I’m really excited about these guys, and Bryce West is gonna be the next one. Look at what he’s done in track and field, the times that he’s put down (10.57 100M, 6.81 60M). Just what a great player.”
The Buckeyes went pretty far out of state for Miles Lockhart, but Arizona is also becoming somewhat of a pipeline for Ohio State. There were six Arizona natives on OSU’s 2023 roster, including Denzel Burke and starting safety Lathan Ransom. Now Lockhart becomes the latest in the line of Grand Canyon State natives in BIA.
“Miles Lockhart is a corner that I actually saw play live,” Day said. “He’s gonna be a nickel for us as well. Miles is extremely competitive. Fits to what Jim wants right there at that nickel position. He can also move out to corner. But a really nasty, tough player.”
And while Day likes what Ohio recruits bring to the Buckeyes, according to Denzel Burke, Arizona recruits also bring their own special brand of football to a team.
“It’s Arizona, man. We got some type of dog to us. Some type of grit to us,” Burke said last month when asked about Lockhart. “So I guess you can say a lot of Arizona recruits and kids, we’re kind of looked at as underdogs. We’re not really the ones who are the first choices that colleges are coming to look at, but we have something to us, man. We want to put on for our state and our city. There’s not that many of us in the league.”
With Ohio State returning every corner from last year’s team, it isn’t expected that any of this year’s freshmen will be thrust into action, but that won’t stop them from preparing. After all, the Buckeyes have started a true freshman cornerback in at least one game in each of the past three seasons.
And even if that doesn’t happen, the competition will only make the cornerback room better.
“Yeah, I think the corners are premier talents, I really do,” Knowles said of the cornerback class. “I think that we’ve come a long way in the secondary in two years, and I think these guys even help raise our level. I think they will come in right away and push everyone, kind of like Davison did. Davison made us better. He ended up starting, but just when he arrived on campus, he made us better because he pushed everybody else. He challenged everybody else. And I think that’s what those young corners will do. I mean, they’re really talented. And it’s going to help us keep growing, keep competing.”