OG Tim Walton Ohio State Buckeyes Coach

Recruiting About Being Authentic, Not Pitches For Tim Walton

With his recruiting and player development since arriving at Ohio State, cornerbacks coach Tim Walton has proven to be one of the most valuable assistant coaches in the nation.

After spending over a decade coaching in the NFL, Walton was hired by head coach Ryan Day in 2022. Walton replaced departed secondary coach Matt Barnes who took a job as the defensive coordinator at Memphis. In a bit of a coincidence, the Ohio State job was Walton’s first time back in the college game since 2008 when he was the defensive coordinator at Memphis.

Prior to that, Walton had also spent time at the University of Miami and LSU, so he has been at some big-time college programs and had success. Since his return to college football, however, the successes have grown both on and off the field.

The Buckeyes had the best pass defense in the nation last year, and as OSU’s secondary coach, Walton deserves much of that credit. He is also making significant waves as a recruiter. In his first full year on the job, Walton signed the top two corners in the nation — Jermaine Mathews and Calvin Simpson-Hunt — per On3’s rankings.

The 2024 class was also pretty good, as OSU signed two top-five cornerbacks in Aaron Scott and Bryce West, as well as Miles Lockhart, who is already earning some kudos as a nickel.

Then you have the 2025 class, which is still over eight months away from signing day. The Buckeyes have commitments from the top two cornerbacks — Na’eem Offord and Devin Sanchez — per most services. It’s been a pretty good run and it doesn’t look like things are going to be slowing down any time soon.

As any coach will tell you, recruiting is the lifeblood of a program. It is imperative to be able to sell your program to recruits. For Walton, it’s just an opportunity to explain what Ohio State can provide to young people if they buy in.

“We’re just authentic,” Walton said. “Really not giving a lot of recruiting talk. It is what it is. We try to shoot straight. Honest communication, honest assessment.”

Recruiting is often talked about in terms of “selling your program,” but it’s a two-way street. Tim Walton isn’t selling Ohio State to everybody, because they are looking for a certain type of buyer.

“The character, the value, the work ethic, and the main thing is the competition,” Walton said. “You’ve gotta compete. If you don’t want to compete, it’s not gonna be the place for you. That’s the thing that will get us where we need to go, is competition in the room. And those guys here love to compete. We sell that. We’re looking for guys who embrace that, who cherish being in those spots.”

The competition this spring between the secondary and the wide receivers has gotten physical and vocal, but it has been productive in making players better. But not every young player needs to be ready right now.

At a place like Ohio State, there are generally enough talented upperclassmen to fill out a starting lineup, as opposed to a freshman or sophomore. When there aren’t, that usually means recruiting misses — or some significant recruiting hits.

For instance, the Buckeyes brought in two talented cornerbacks last season in Jermaine Mathews, Jr. and Calvin Simpson-Hunt. Mathews enrolled in the spring and played in all but one game last season. He even earned a start due to injury. Simpson-Hunt, meanwhile, enrolled in June and played in a few games, but redshirted.

Both paths are completely fine, but don’t expect it to all happen right away.

“You can take time to grow,” Walton said. “You don’t have to have the pig mentality of the problem of instant gratification. You can develop and grow. And sometimes you may be behind a guy that’s a really good player. There’s nothing wrong with developing and growing and playing when your time is right. And if the time is right, right now as a freshman, you play early.”

Walton has first-hand knowledge of what being a Buckeye can do for a person long after their playing days are done because he was once an Ohio State cornerback himself back in the early 1990s.

The way Walton sees it, the football aspect of Ohio State is just one side of things because the playing days don’t last forever.

So far the pitch has been working, which is often the case when it’s much more than just a pitch.

“We care about them as people and prepare them for life after football,” he said. “So it is bigger than just football. We’re going to prepare you for life. Whether it’s the NFL, or on with a regular career in the workforce, we want to prepare you as a young man. And we try to sell that and preach that to the parents.”

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