The Lee Impact

Ohio State hosted one of its most loaded visitor groups in recent memory over the weekend and the dominoes are now starting to fall coming out of that big weekend. Four-star Ellenwood (GA) Cedar Grove cornerback Kayin Lee became the first to jump into the pond coming out of the weekend, giving his verbal pledge to the Buckeyes on Monday evening.

What Ohio State is getting

Lee has quite simply been one of Ohio State’s top cornerback targets for about two years now. So while the high ranking is nice, this is more importantly a long time priority target joining the fold for Tim Walton and Perry Eliano’s soon-to-be revamped secondary.

Lee stands at right about 6-feet tall and is strongly built at 185-pounds so he definitely fits the physical profile of what Ohio State historically looks for at cornerback. In addition to having ideal size, Lee also has tremendous instincts and ball skills. He recorded seven interceptions as a junior and has that Denzel Burke type ability to play the ball like a wide receiver.

Perhaps his best attribute, however, is his competitiveness. Lee showed up at Ohio State last summer and absolutely dominated a Buckeye one-day camp. We also saw a similar fire out of him during spring practice on our Southern Swing in May. He’s just a kid who plays with a lot of energy and fire.

This look like a great fit for the Ohio State defense which desperately needs to replenish the cornerbacks room after some attrition and recruiting misses. The Buckeyes should have a strong unit at the top this year, but keep in mind that when this 2023 crop arrives, Cam Brown will be gone and the trio of Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock and J.K. Johnson will all be entering their third-year, so landing some dudes in this class is imperative.

What it means for recruiting

Ohio State really made persistence pay off here. The Buckeyes went through sweeping coaching changes in the defensive secondary but even during that transition phase, they made Lee a priority target. They also stuck with it while Lee was committed to the home state Georgia Bulldogs, never fully giving up on the four-star prospect which allowed the Buckeyes to be ideally positioned when he opened his recruiting process back up.

New cornerbacks coach Tim Walton is really starting to get his footing. It’s difficult to hit the ground running as a recruiter when you change programs, but it’s even more difficult to do it after a prolonged stint in the NFL. But Walton is already making his impact felt. Lee was pretty close with former Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, but Walton’s hard work and ties to the Peach State allowed him to keep Ohio State in the game while Lee sorted through his recruiting process during the winter and spring.

As things have played out over the past year with attrition, Ohio State’s target number of cornerbacks in the 2023 recruiting class has certainly increased. It is now looking very possible that the Buckeyes could take up to four cornerbacks in this cycle with Dijon Johnson and Kayin Lee already in the fold.

Cincinnati (Ohio) Winton Woods star Jermaine Mathews is the top remaining target for the Buckeyes after a dominant camp performance recently and he’ll make his college decision on Friday July 1st. Calvin Simpson-Hunt, a Texas Tech commit, recently made an official visit and is another prospect the Buckeyes are high on at the moment. if Simpson-Hunt decides to remain with the Red Raiders, the Buckeyes could broaden their search and perhaps even revisit things with five-star corner Cormani McClain as several of his South Florida Express teammates have started to recruit him in recent weeks.

Either way, the Buckeyes have a very solid foundation here with Johnson and Lee and should be signing a very strong group of corners come December.