In the second Battle 7v7 tournament of the year, Arizona played host to 23 high school club teams, one of those being Tucson Turf, who touts 4-star safety Xavier Nwankpa from Southeast Polk, Iowa.
Ranked the #7 safety in the country and the #1 player in the state of Iowa, Nwankpa currently holds 27 offers, including an offer from the Ohio State Buckeyes.
As a key target, the Buckeyes are looking to add Nwankpa to its 2022 class, which includes two other defensive backs in 5-star CB Jaheim Singletary and 4-star CB Jyaire Brown.
After Tucson Turf went 2-1 in pool play on Saturday, Nwankpa and his squad consisting of mostly Arizona-based players came back Sunday and won the tournament, knocking off the Bootleggers (home of Ohio State commit Jyaire Brown) and LoPro in the process.
Nwankpa, who has come across the country from Iowa to play with Tucson Turf, said he likes playing with guys like 247 Sports 4-star wide receiver Kyion Grayes, who is also a key Buckeye target.
“It’s fun. Some guys could even be future teammates,” he said. “I’m just having fun and building relationships out here.”
Nwankpa arrived late Friday afternoon in Phoenix, staying at Grayes’ house for the weekend. Over the last few months the duo has gotten to know each other very well.
Without his close relationship with Grayes, the defensive back would have likely played 7v7 for a team in his home state. Traveling to Arizona, Nwankpa understands that the Spring 7v7 season is a great opportunity to develop against top-tier competition.
“Right now, I’ve been working on my man-coverage and getting out of breaks faster,” Nwankpa told Buckeye Scoop on Saturday, “My biggest strength is reading the field. My biggest weakness? Probably not sinking as far as I should.”
Ohio State secondary coach Matt Barnes, who is Nwankpa’s primary contact alongside defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, first offered him on September 7th.
Nwankpa, who is entering his senior year, also noted that he has a good relationship with a number of 2022 Buckeye commits, including C.J. Hicks and Dasan McCullough.
“I also talk to Quinn (Ewers) and Caleb (Burton) a little bit too,” he added.
Like Kyion Grayes, Nwankpa also commented on a 2022 group chat, which includes a number of Buckeye targets who all talk on a regular basis.
Other than Ohio State, “Clemson, Iowa, Iowa State talk to me the most,” he said. Nwankpa also added that LSU, Arizona State, and Notre Dame reach out to him on a regular basis.
His father, Frank Nwankpa, holds seven track and field records at Iowa State. The Cyclones are one of Nwankpa’s top 12 and are located just 42 miles from Southeast Polk.
With a family full of Cyclone blood, it may be challenging to lure Nwankpa to Columbus.
Due to the NCAA’s extension of the recruiting dead period, official visits and in-person contact with coaches are prohibited, however Nwankpa would like to visit campus before his commitment.
“I’m hoping we get some positive news about the dead period over Summer,” said Nwankpa, “If not, I’ll do a few self-guided visits so I can get a feel for the environment. I was going to try to commit before the start of next season, but with the dead period being extended, I’ll probably push it back a little further.”
On January 1st, Nwankpa released his top 12 schools, which included Ohio State among others.