COLUMBUS — Sometimes messages get lost in translation. Jantzen Dunn, was almost an Oklahoma Sooners commitment because of it.
Instead, the country’s No. 15-ranked 2021 athlete is committed to Ohio State.
Dunn, from Bowling Green (Ky.) South Warren High School, was offered by the Buckeyes during an early March visit. Following that “surreal” visit, the Buckeyes became the presumptive team to beat in the recruitment of the 4-star defensive back. However, a month later, things had appeared to slow down too much for Ohio State’s sake after the additions of Jakailin Johnson, Devonta Smith and Andre Turrentine combined with an inability for Buckeyes defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs to evaluate Dunn in person.
And that’s where the story gets interesting. Dunn, who has never visited Oklahoma, began receiving crystal-ball predictions for the Sooners late on Saturday, predictions that came in correspondence with a tweet from Lincoln Riley that has become his signature message when Oklahoma lands a verbal commitment.
But in the span of an hour, everything changed. Dunn, who has been aggressively recruited by assistant secondary coach Matt Barnes for months, received some much-needed clarification from the Buckeyes on exactly where he stood and what it meant for him. Within that hour, his mind changed. Two days later, he’s announced his decision and committed to Ohio State.
Recruiting is not for the feint of heart, is it?
Lettermen Row is breaking down Dunn’s decision and what it means for Ohio State, the Big Ten and the national recruiting landscape.
What Jantzen Dunn gives Ohio State on field
The key word in Ohio State defensive back recruiting is versatility and there’s no doubt that Jantzen Dunn fits the mold of what the Buckeyes are searching for in a cornerback or a safety — even if it’s not yet determined exactly where the 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete will play at the next level.
Dunn is long-armed and has quick hips, but he also has the speed to cover down the field. He has drawn early comparisons to current Buckeyes freshman Ryan Watts, though Dunn may be a bit more explosive and runs about half of a second faster in the 40-yard dash.
Though he’s primarily a defensive back, Dunn also plays wide receiver and has good wiggle with the football in his hands. His 7-on-7 coach, Joey Moss, coached Watts and believes the two are comparable.
“I run one of the more well-known training groups in Texas, and Ryan Watts was another I coached through,” Moss told Lettermen Row. “So that was very instrumental in our relationship with Ohio State. Jantzen is one of the most intriguing prospects in all of the country. I honestly think he has just as much of an upside, if not a higher ceiling than Watts.”
What pickup means for Ohio State 2021 recruiting class
The Buckeyes now have five defensive backs in the Class of 2021 with the addition of Jantzen Dunn, as he joins fellow secondary standouts Jakailin Johnson, Devonta Smith, Andre Turrentine and Jaylen Johnson.
And while that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes are finished recruiting the defensive backfield, it does mean that there will be some tough decisions made about whether or not a sixth player is added at the position. If there is, who it would be? That decision is complicated by the knowledge that if there’s another defensive back added, then it’s likely that players like 5-star cornerback Tony Grimes or Clemson commit Jordan Hancock, who the Buckeyes are still pursuing hard, are most certainly going to be off the list for Ohio State.
So the handful of players out there that still have significant interest in eventually joining the Buckeyes class, prospects like Jaylin Davies, Denzel Burke and Kamar Wilcoxson among others are going to be put in a precarious position moving forward. None of them have visited Ohio State, and though the program is interested in each of those players, spots are running low. It’s unlikely that Kerry Coombs and Ryan Day would push too hard for a commitment without getting a chance to see any of them in person, whether at a camp or high school workout.
How Jantzen Dunn impacts recruiting rankings
Commitment No. 17 for Ohio State, the addition of Jantzen Dunn continues to grow the program’s lead as the country’s best 2021 recruiting class. For the moment, that lead is now over North Carolina, which surged past Clemson as the country’s second-ranked class.
The Buckeyes now have 294.67 recruiting points according to 247Sports.com, a total that would have been good for a sixth-place finish in the Class of 2020. But Ohio State is likely to take seven or eight more prospects in this class as it continues to pursue a record-breaking finish and win the national recruiting title, something it has not done in the modern recruiting era. The Buckeyes finished No. 2 in the country in 2013, 2017 and 2018.
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