Ohio State secured a pledge from the top-rated cornerback in the state of Georgia on Monday evening when Ellenwood Cedar Grove four-star Kayin Lee announced his commitment to the Buckeyes.
The 5-foot-11 and 185-pound Lee hails from the same high school as former Ohio State defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson and is the former teammate of Georgia defensive tackle signee Christen Miller, who defensive line coach Larry Johnson recruited heavily last cycle.
He was also previously coached new defensive quality control coach Miguel Patrick during his freshman season with the Saints, who have won four of the last five 3A state titles.
Lee notably saw his recruitment take off after he ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at multiple recruiting camps last summer. He then put forth a stellar junior season, which saw him record seven interceptions, including two in the state championship game.
That said, Lee has impressed in both camp and game settings over the last year, particularly with his footwork and physically, which shine through despite his compact stature compared to some of the other highly-rated cornerbacks in the class.
“During warm up sprints, stretching and each basic defensive back drill, Lee went full blast through that event,” Inside The Knights’ Brian Smith said after watching Lee at a camp last spring. “There are many ways to scout a prospect, but one of them is just trying to understand their effort. One finds out the true essence of how that young man tends to his craft – from stretching all the way through one-on-one competition – to better understand his long-term potential.
“Once the intricate defensive back drills began, Lee was precise with his footwork. Whether working on his hip turn, which is critical for a cornerback, or side pedal at a 45 degree angle, this young man performed at a high level repetition after repetition. He also competed and performed well during one-on-ones while only being 154-pounds at the event.
“Fast forward (to a practice over the summer), Lee changed his diet and increased his weight to 175-pounds. That’s 21 additional pounds added to his sleek frame. He’s now physically ready to play against some of the bigger wide receivers he will face, as well as be a bigger factor to defend against the run. That’s an additional sign that Lee is ready to take that next step and be considered among the nation’s elite.”
Lee’s leadership skills were also on display during that practice, as Smith noted he did 20 pushups after dropping a surefire interception in the sweltering Georgia heat.
“He performed admirably thereafter and was leading by example and directing teammates with instructions,” Smith said. “He’s not a big yeller and screamer, he’s not going to go off on a teammate for making a mistake.
“Lee just performs at a high level, instructs here or there when needed and allows his play to do the talking for him. He is lights-out as an athlete and certainly learning the nuances of cornerback play. No question he’s a ballplayer, but it’s his burgeoning leadership skills and dedication to his craft that (stand out).”
As for how he fits into the class, Lee is the second cornerback to commit to Ohio State this cycle, joining Tampa (Fla.) Wharton four-star Dijon Johnson. They could soon be joined by another player at the position, as Cincinnati Winton Woods four-star Jermaine Mathews is set to make his college decision on July 1.
The staff is hoping to finish out the class with a commitment from Mathews on Friday, as well as a flip of Texas Tech four-star cornerback commit Calvin Simpson-Hunt. He was on campus for his official visit this month, and it’s expected that he’ll either reaffirm his commitment to the Red Raiders or switch his pledge to the Buckeyes in the coming weeks.
That said, Lee’s commitment also helps in Ohio State’s pursuit of several other Peach State prospects, including Hoschton Mill Creek five-star safety Caleb Downs, Buford four-star running back Justice Haynes, Fairburn Langston Hughes four-star tight end Jelani Thurman, Columbus Carver four-star defensive lineman Darron Reed and Fayetteville Whitewater four-star linebacker Raul Aguirre.
Interestingly, all six of them were on the same flights to and from Columbus for their official visits this past weekend. Will any of them now decide to follow Lee’s lead? The Buckeyes appear to be the favorites for Downs, Haynes and Reed, who is set to make his college decision on July 4, so stay tuned…
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