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How Jermaine Mathews' Commitment Impacts Ohio State’s 2023 Recruiting Class

An in-depth look at what Mathews will bring to the Buckeyes both on and off the field.

For the second time in as many weeks, Ohio State has landed commitments from three players at the same position.

But while this week's haul of four-star cornerbacks Kayin Lee, Calvin Simpson-Hunt and Jermaine Mathews doesn't quite grab the headlines the same way that back-to-back-to back pledges from five-star wide receivers Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss and four-star Noah Rodgers did, their decisions were just as important as the Buckeyes look to rebuild a position that lacks considerable depth.

Mathews’ pledge, in particular, wraps up the cornerback position for new secondary/cornerbacks coach Tim Walton, who also secured a pledge this spring from Tampa (Fla.) Wharton four-star Dijon Johnson to bring the total to four. 

Jermaine Mathews

Walton has now shown the ability to identify prospects on the camp circuit and build relationships in a short period of time, which was naturally a concern for someone who had spent the last decade in the NFL. 

He also went head-to-head with former Ohio State defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs, who is now the cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator at Cincinnati. That’s no easy task given how much Coombs has been praised for his recruiting efforts over the years.

Walton and safeties coach Perry Eliano can now shift their focus to safety, where Ohio State already holds a pair of commitments in West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West four-star Malik Hartford and Titusville (Fla.) Cocoa four-star Cedrick Hawkins but hope to add two more players at the position.

Top targets at safety include Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek five-star Caleb Downs, Danvers (Mass.) St. John’s Prep five-star Joenel Aguero and Hillside (N.J.) St. Peter’s Prep four-star Jayden Bonsu. It’s worth noting the Buckeyes feel confident in their standing with Downs and Bonsu following an important month of official visits for each.

As for Mathews, he now becomes the sixth in-state prospect to commit to Ohio State this cycle, joining Hartford, Findlay four-star offensive tackle Luke Montgomery, Huber Heights Wayne four-star offensive guard Joshua Padilla, Liberty Township Lakota East four-star offensive guard Austin Siereveld and Dublin Coffman three-star defensive tackle Will Smith Jr.

They represent the No. 1, No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 9 and No. 12 prospects in Ohio, which goes to show just how important it is for the Buckeyes to recruit and maintain a presence locally despite the success they’ve had nationally. Ohio State is also the perceived favorite to eventually land Cleveland Glanville four-star linebacker Arvell Reese, the seventh-best prospect in the state.

The 6-foot-0 and 175-pound Mathews, meanwhile, hails from the same high school as sixth-year senior defensive tackle Jerron Cage and redshirt sophomore running back Miyan Williams. He’s coming off a season in which he recorded 44 tackles, five interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and two punt return touchdowns to lead the Warriors to the Division II state championship.

Mathews’ aggressiveness and physicality immediately stand out on his tape, but it wasn’t until he used his length and 4.35-second speed to disrupt the best receivers at Ohio State’s one-day camp on June 1 that he became a highly sought-after prospect. His confidence will serve him well when he’s left alone on the boundary at the next level.

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