COLUMBUS — Ohio State is back in the win column on the recruiting trail, landing a commitment from Florida safety Kye Stokes on Sunday evening.
The Buckeyes offered Stokes just under a week ago, but quickly showed him he was a priority for them in the Class of 2022.
Why would Ohio State accept a commitment from a 3-star prospect that it just offered? Quite simply, the Buckeyes — and a lot of other big-time programs — are just catching up to what Stokes can provide and that has turned him into one of the country’s hottest prospects in recent weeks.
Lettermen Row is breaking down his choice and what his commitment means to Ohio State, the Big Ten and the national recruiting scene for the Class of 2022.
What Kye Stokes gives Ohio State on field
It doesn’t take long to see that the Buckeyes latest commitment makes plays on the football field. He makes them on offense and he makes them on defense. Stokes is the long, rangy safety prospect that Kerry Coombs and Matt Barnes love. He can run — 10.8 in the 100-meter-dash — and has very natural instincts in the passing game, intercepting five passes in his junior season. Though he’s ranked just the No. 77 athlete in the country, his coach at Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) High School says he’s the very definition of a sleeper.
“I think the Kye is an absolute no-brainer prospect,” Evan Davis told Lettermen Row. “What’s changed in recent weeks I think is that people have now seen him. I took a couple of photos of him in doorway helping us a wall so they could see his length. Plus his film at safety is really impressive. Having only one year played at that position? I think they see a lot of upside and potential there.”
Stokes is a leader on the field and in the weight room for the Hawks.
“He is a young man that has had to work his way up in the ranks,” Davis said. “Nothing has come easy for him. He played JV for us as a freshman as a sophomore was our fifth wide receiver out and then became a two-way to a starter for us.
“He is a kid that will come in and work, he does not expect anybody to give anything to him. When he shows up and he is one of 12 defensive backs at Ohio State, he’s going to compete every single day. With the quality of character of the young man and his family, he is someone that will be in addition not only as a football player but as a person. He is only going to make their program better so I think he is the safest no-brainer. I think people are finally seeing the whole picture. Kye is one of the highest character, mentally strong kids I’ve ever been around. He wants to excel at everything. He’s a leader not only by his work ethic but he brings positivity, preparation and playing ability that people want to follow.”
If we’re making an Ohio State comparison based on film and projected positional use, it’s easy to see some Josh Proctor in Kye Stokes.
What pickup means for Ohio State 2022 recruiting class
After last Sunday’s decommitment of Dasan McCullough, the addition of Stokes is nice bounce back for Ohio State. Stokes current national ranking may not open many eyes but he’s been one of the country’s hottest prospects in recent weeks. Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, Notre Dame and more have offered in just a two-week stretch so throw out the rankings here and feel good knowing the Buckeyes landed a very coveted young prospect.
As mentioned, Stokes is a safety in the mind of Ohio State coaches and that’s a position of major need for the Buckeyes. Naturally there will be questions about how his announcement will impact Ohio State as it prepares to welcome in other, long-time targets for official visits in June. Adding a safety to the class now doesn’t eliminate any players from the Buckeyes list but it does certainly eliminate some of the pressure Ohio State has felt about landing stars like Xavier Nwankpa and Zion Branch. That duo is set to make official visits on June 4 and are viewed as “different types” of players than Stokes.
It’s not a matter of one or the other for Ohio State, they’d still love to land two more safeties in 2022. That’s why, besides Nwankpa and Branch, the Buckeyes are still recruiting California’s Kamari Ramsey, Virginia’s Sherrod Covil, Georgia’s Jake Pope and New Jersey athlete Jayden Bellamy.
How do those players respond to Stokes commitment is harder to sort out, of course. That’s not something that Ohio State can spend too much time worrying about. Simply put, the Buckeyes aren’t going to turn down kids that they believe can play at Ohio State. They believe Kye Stokes is that kind of player, ranking be damned.
Stokes is the second commitment in the Class of 2022 from Florida and the third defensive back in the group for the Buckeyes.
How Kye Stokes impacts 2022 recruiting rankings
After a little bit of a slip since the addition of Kyion Grayes at the end of February, Ohio State is now sitting with the country’s No. 3-ranked 2022 class. Both Georgia and LSU, with 13 commitments each, have surpassed the Buckeyes in the point totals. Ohio State still leads in per-player average according to the 247Sports.com composite rankings, but the Bulldogs are closing that gap as well.
Inside of the Big Ten, The lead over Penn State and Rutgers is growing however. The Scarlet Knights have the same number of commitments as Ohio State but trail by almost 50 points according to these metrics.
Ohio State has four commitments currently ranked as 5-star prospects committed in 2022. That group includes quarterback Quinn Ewers, cornerback Jaheim Singletary and receiver Caleb Burton and linebacker C.J. Hicks. The remainder of the Buckeyes class consists of receiver Kyion Grayes, offensive lineman Tegra Tshabola, tight ends Bennett Christian and Benji Gosnell, linebacker Gabe Powers and defensive back Jyaire Brown.