Ohio State football: Ryan Day credits Alter’s Hicks with assist in Buckeyes’ highly rated recruiting class

By 10 a.m. on National Signing Day, Ohio State had signed all but two of its verbal commitments.

One — Marysville linebacker Gabe Powers — plans to sign Friday during a ceremony at his school, but the other — Little Elm, Texas, cornerback Terrance Brooks — won’t be a Buckeye.

Brooks announced during an event Wednesday morning he is staying home and signing with the Texas Longhorns instead.

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian also flipped Michigan commit Ethan Burke, a defensive lineman from Westlake, Texas, on Wednesday as his class moved up into the top five of the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Brooks and Burke were among a handful other players who were previously planning to go elsewhere but signed with Texas instead, and Sarkisian also found his quarterback for the 2022 class at Ohio State via the transfer of Lonestar State native Quinn Ewers, who announced last week he will suit up for the Longhorns after spending one season with the Buckeyes.

Brooks is the No. 59 player in the country and eighth-ranked cornerback prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Despite his loss, Ohio State signed four defensive backs, including Ohioans four-star cornerback Jyaire Brown of Lakota West and safety Sonny Styles of Pickerington Central (who could grow into another position).

The class also includes four-star Florida natives Kye Stokes of Armwood High School and Ryan Turner of Chaminade-Madonna Prep.

Ohio State coach Ryan Day acknowledged losing Brooks hurt, but he said he is happy overall with the class so far.

“I think that when you combine first off the athletic ability and the potential these guys have to be really good football players, that’s one thing, but it’s also the type of people that we have that are coming into this program,” Day said. “I’m very excited about this class. I think the quality of the guys here — we’re gonna expect to sign north of 20 here after the second signing period — but these 17 are as quality as you’re going to get.”

Day expects to sign three or four more players in February with cornerback and defensive line the mostly likely targets.

Cornerback could have as few as four or as many as six players returning as co-starters Cam Brown and Sevyn Banks both went through Senior Day activities but still have eligibility remaining and could decide to return.

“I feel really good about our young corners,” Day said. “I thought we hit a home run last year, so the room that we have, we’ll kind of find out who’s going to move on and who’s going to stay in terms of the NFL here, but the goal is to have eight. So if we need to sign one more here into February, we will. If not, we’ll have to maybe look at the transfer portal and see.”

The defensive line likely will have a couple of openings even with the addition of four-star prospects Kenyatta Jackson of Florida and Caden Curry of Indiana on Wednesday, but there are players with decisions to make there, too.

“We’ve gotta get it done, so it will get done one way or another,” Day said. “We’re gonna find somebody to fit in those roles because we have to. We’ve got to have eight defensive tackles and eight defensive ends. That’s the goal.”

Ohio State’s 2021 class was ranked No. 4 in the country and tops in the Big Ten as of Wednesday afternoon, and Day credited Alter linebacker C.J. Hicks for his role in helping to assemble the group.

“The quality of the guy is as good as there is in the country right here, but a lot of that has to do with C.J.,” Day said. “I mean, he jumped in this thing early, and he recruited a lot of these guys. He built that relationship, and there were some guys along the way that were good football players, but they just didn’t quite fit what Ohio State was all about and our culture.

“These guys are able to see them at the camps, at the Rivals events, The Opening and all these different things that they go to and they spend time together. And in that moment we don’t get a chance as coaches to see them. They do. And C.J. was a big part of that. His mom, Tiffany, was great, and they really spearheaded this thing, so he’s a big part of this class and a big part of our future.”

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