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Ohio State, Michigan battles for top cornerback targets could be challenge

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Ohio State coordinator Kerry Coombs will have his work cut out for him with two top cornerbacks. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Ohio State, Michigan battles for top cornerback targets could be challenge

Have a question about Ohio State recruiting? This is the place for you, five days a week. Submit your questions on Twitter or on the Lettermen Row forums. Check-in daily to see what’s on the mind of Buckeyes fans all over the country. Today we’re taking a look at the efforts to land some of the country’s top-ranked 2022 cornerbacks.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

In case you missed it over the weekend, there was a blowout loss suffered by Michigan. The struggling Wolverines have now lost three straight games. Coincidentally, a number of top recruits in the Class of 2021 and Class of 2022 had made their way to Ann Arbor for the weekend, a get-together similar to the Buckeyes Bash event that happened in Columbus a few weeks ago.

Among the visitors to Ann Arbor were a pair of 5-star 2022 cornerbacks who are being aggressively recruited by Ohio State: Will Johnson and Domani Jackson. When Johnson was on Lettermen Row’s Birminology last week, he spoke pretty plainly about the fact that he and Jackson intend to play together in college, so it’s worth paying close attention for the Buckeyes when they make a visit to the same school.

Following the trip, the reviews from Jackson have particularly captured the focus at Ohio State, which understandably believes the embarrassment happening on the field at Michigan should affect the recruitment of these two defensive backs. Jackson — who, like his father, grew up a Michigan fan — spoke glowingly about the trip and reportedly had some inclination about a commitment following the visit.

How could that happen?

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Ohio State has had plenty to celebrate when competing against Michigan. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

I think it’s a good time for a reminder of one important thing: Losses don’t hurt recruiting as much as many people think, especially in a year that seems to be such an anomaly for so many different reasons. Recruiting is about the relationships formed between recruits and coaches, and in some ways the clearly lackluster roster provides an enticement for young, extremely-confident prospects. When talking about a historical program like Michigan, recruits don’t always see the struggles the same way outsiders might.

Will Johnson’s dad, Deon, played at Michigan. He has a built-in affection for the Wolverines even stronger than Domani Jackson does. These losses provide the Michigan staff a chance to promote the idea that those guys are the missing pieces, the players who will finally bring the program back to where it was years ago.

Is there any reason to think that is true? Objectively, no. There have been 5-star prospects been in and out of Ann Arbor the last handful of years, and they have left without the on-field success that was projected. But again, that doesn’t seem to stick with recruits as people would expect. Highly-recruited athletes are brazen, brash and they believe in their own abilities — those things help get them into the position they’re in. At times they almost believe too much in some cases.

For most folks on the outside looking in, it’s a no-brainer to choose Ohio State over Michigan right now. But every recruitment is unique, and every player is impacted by and interested in something else. The relationships are what matter the most, and the Buckeyes have some of the country’s most genuine and successful coaches recruiting on their behalf. But if recruits can’t visit to the school until April, there’s good reason to expect pre-existing relationships to have a little bit of a leg up right now.

There’s plenty of time to change that moving forward, though. The 2022 recruiting class is sure to have all kinds of twists and turns in the year ahead.

Need more Ohio State recruiting #Stuff? Join the conversation below in the comments and sign up for Scarlet Sunrise, Lettermen Row’s morning newsletter that will get your day started with all the important Ohio State news you need to know. Prefer video? Follow Buckeyes football on YouTube with Lettermen Row. You can also get your recruiting fix by subscribing to Talking Stuff: The Ohio State Recruiting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and Stitcher.

Birm

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 elevenwarriors.com and Landof10.com and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.