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Should Buckeyes look for two more defensive backs in this cycle?

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Former Miami commitment Jaiden Francois made a midsummer visit to Ohio State in June. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Recruiting Question of the Day

Should Buckeyes look for two more defensive backs in this cycle?

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. Thursday’s question is about the defensive back position and why the Buckeyes should consider taking two more in the Class of 2020.

Ohio State Recruiting Question of the Day

Nothing controls recruiting on a macro level like the numbers. You know, the numbers.

How many players can any program sign in any given recruiting cycle? That’s what drives the bus every year, and that’s what is driving the bus for Ohio State this year.

Right now, the Buckeyes have 23 commitments. But since we know that Jake Seibert, the kicker from Cincinnati La Salle, is going to grayshirt, that means there are actually 22 soon-to-be scholarships accounted for in the Ohio State class of 2020. Exactly how many they wind up taking is still a question, but we here at Lettermen Row have been operating under the presumption that it finishes with at least 26.

That means another quarterback, a running back, another defensive lineman and another defensive back.

There’s an expectation that Ryan Watts III, a recent Oklahoma decommitment, will take a spot at Ohio State. Because of that, there’s a possibility that this entire topic is moot. But should it be?

I ask that because more and more buzz coming out of Columbus is that not only will Jeffrey Okudah depart early from Ohio State for the NFL, but there’s a belief growing that Shaun Wade could do the same. And if that happens, doesn’t it change the needs for the Buckeyes?

ryan watts-ryan watts football-ryan watts oklahoma-ryan watts football-ryan watts ohio state

If the Buckeyes can land Ryan Watts, will they be done with the defensive back position in 2020? (Birm/Lettermen Row)

I think it could and should, and that’s why I’m still paying close attention to the planned official visit in November by recent Miami (Fla.) decommitment Jaiden Francois. If the Buckeyes believe that they’ll lose Damon Arnette, Okudah and Wade to the NFL next season, the need for another pure cornerback prospect seems obvious, doesn’t it?

Yes, Clark Phillips and Lejond Cavazos are committed. And, yes, there’s a good chance Watts joins them. But the roster in Columbus isn’t chock-full of cornerbacks right now. The position group in 2020 will be led by Cameron Brown and Sevyn Banks, and unless there’s serious progression by Marcus Williamson and Tyreke Johnson, it should be expected that the incoming freshmen would play a pivotal role at that spot next season.

If Ohio State can stretch their numbers to 27, which is possible, they could do a lot worse than adding another versatile defensive back who could play cornerback or safety and be an instant contributor on special teams. If it’s not Francois, there are a number of quality defensive backs available throughout the country, and I’m not even talking about Kelee Ringo or Elias Ricks, because it’s highly unlikely either of those players ends up in Columbus.

I, personally, am a big fan of Kansas City standout Dontae Manning, who released his top schools list on Twitter this week. Ohio State isn’t on that list, but the program’s cachet allows doors that seem closed to be opened relatively easily.

The numbers may be tightening. But with a closer look, the more it makes sense for the Buckeyes to consider adding two more defensive backs and not just one.

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Shaun Wade leaving early for the draft isn’t something I thought would happen at the start of the season. The new coaching staff did an amazing job turning our secondary around.

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.

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