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Ohio State will visit Dayon Hayes, new offer excites California star

Larry Johnson-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State assistant Larry Johnson will have his work cut out for him as evaluation season approaches. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football Recruiting

Ohio State will visit Dayon Hayes, new offer excites California star

Stay in touch or be left out because Ohio State recruiting is a 24-hour, seven-day-per-week obsession. What’s the latest news as the Buckeyes build for the future? Get that and more Sunday through Thursday on Lettermen Row. Today, we talk about a pair of 2020 defensive lineman to know about as the Buckeyes prepare for summer camp season.

Larry Johnson offers Pennsylvania lineman Dayon Hayes

Legendary defensive line coach Larry Johnson isn’t as concerned about stars and rankings as the average person. Johnson is instead focused on coachability and long-term upside, two things he apparently sees in Westinghouse (Pittsburgh) High School defensive lineman Dayon Hayes.

Hayes is a 6-foot-3, 255-pound, 3-star prospect according to 247Sports, but he’s unranked in the composite rankings due to being under-the-radar and lacking a profile on Hayes has 13 offers to this point, including one from Penn State. On Monday, as Larry Johnson visited him, Hayes added the Buckeyes to his early-offer list.

“We’ve had chats on the phone, and he had said he will be coming down to talk to me and my coaches,” Hayes said. “There was a loss of words at first.  I just couldn’t stop smiling and thinking like, my dream school is considering offering me. It was just a surreal moment. It seemed like I’ve known Coach Johnson for longer because I just felt that comfortable talking to him.

“It feels crazy to get this offer. This is my dream school. I remember when I  used to wear Ohio State gear when I was in a ninth grade and now I have an offer from them. I’m just blessed to be where I’m at.”

Hayes had a whopping 26 sacks as a junior and forced a remarkable 11 fumbles. He’s working on setting up a visit to Ohio State in the near future.

Ohio State kicks tires on talented local defensive end

There’s another under-the-radar defensive lineman getting some Ohio State attention as well.

Gage Keys, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound defensive end at Hilliard Davidson High School, has recently been hearing from Johnson and Ohio State. He’s Ohio’s 43rd-ranked player, but he is raw and relatively unseen to this point.

“It really seems like they’re interested in me much more than last year,” Keys told Lettermen Row. “I’ve gotten a lot better as a player.

“Coach Johnson came in to see me workout last Thursday. After that he said he was impressed and would like to get me down for a visit real soon. We are thinking about next Friday but not 100-percent sure yet.”

Keys has 12 early offers, including Rutgers and Indiana. He visited Ohio State last season when it hosted Minnesota. He’s a player who will have no problem coming to camp in Columbus this summer with an eye on earning an offer in person. He missed half of his junior season with a knee injury suffered midway through the year but is back to full strength.

Ohio State offers California defensive back Jaylin Davies

The Buckeyes have fallen short to this point in their efforts to land 5-star 2020 defensive back Elias Ricks from Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), but they’ve gone back to the well at the California powerhouse program and offered 2021 defensive back Jaylin Davies.

A 5-foot-11, 165-pound sophomore, Davies is the country’s eighth-ranked cornerback early in the 2021 rankings. The offer from the Buckeyes brings them to a party that already includes Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida State and Arizona, among others.

“It’s huge,” Davies told Lettermen Row. “Ohio State is known for putting most of their defensive backs into the league — it’s DBU — so as a defensive back that receives an offer from them, it feels like it’s a stamp of approval of my skillset. I’m honored.”

Buckeyes defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley was at Mater Dei last week and offered Davies.

“Coach Hafley offered me,” Davies said. “He’d seen my film and then came up to the school to check me out in person to see how I looked. He told my coaches that he had been watching my film and liked it.”

As a young player, Davies is comfortable in man-to-man as he is in a zone defense, but he’s still working on his game and just starting to make sense of his recruitment. He knows Ohio State is one school he’s going to be paying close attention to.

“Relationships are going to be key,” he said. “I want to go where I’m wanted and needed. Ohio State is in my top-five schools, no doubt. They produce some of the best defensive backs, and I plan to visit this summer. I’ve already talked to parents about it. I like Ohio State, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Michigan, Oklahoma, Alabama and Clemson, but still have a lot of time to make a decision.”

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Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for and and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.