The Doran Grant Impact
By Brandon Castel
In the end, it was mom who prevailed over dad in the recruitment of blue-chip prospect Doran Grant.
The son of former Michigan State wide receiver Ted Jones (1980-82) chose Ohio State over his father’s alma mater Wednesday night during the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Fla.
When he put on the Buckeye hat during ESPN’s broadcast, his mom nearly burst into tears the way she said she did when she received the recruiting letter from Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel.
Grant had narrowed his list to include just the Buckeyes and Spartans before Wednesday’s decision. It comes just one day after Ohio State’ big 31-26 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, and less than a week after Michigan State’s devastating 49-7 loss to Alabama in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
The Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary prospect is the top-rated cornerback in the country according to Rivals.com, and No. 2 at his position according to Scout.com, who made him a 5-star prospect. He becomes the 20th member of Ohio State’s 2011 class, but his commitment could not have come at a more imperative time for the Buckeyes.
The entire nation (at least cable viewers) watched as Ohio State was forced to play a number of young kids in their secondary after senior Chimdi Chekwa went down with a wrist injury Tuesday night. The Buckeyes will not only replace Chekwa in their secondary next season, but also Devon Torrence and Jermale Hines.
Behind Chekwa and Torrence, there was not a lot of depth at the corner position. Both C.J. Barnett and Corey Brown were converted to safeties, and Christian Bryant slid inside to learn the “Star” position.
That leaves Howard, Clarke, senior Donnie Evege and current redshirt Bradley Roby as the only returning cornerbacks on scholarship next season. The staff was obviously concerned enough about the position to accept a transfer from Florida State senior Dionte Allen, who will be eligible to play next fall.
Allen was a former 4-star prospect out of Michigan, but Grant is a different kind of player. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder has good speed and ability to change direction. He can also play wide receiver, but the Buckeyes desperately need him at the corner spot, where they have not landed a truly elite prospect since Eugene Clifford in 2007.
Corey Brown was a 5-star prospect in 2009, but the staff never really liked him as a corner and preferred his ball skills at safety. Besides, Brown will likely be out through the spring after tearing up his knee during the regular season.
That means Grant could come in and compete for a spot right away. The Buckeyes would probably prefer not to have a true freshman starting at corner next fall, but he just might be that good. He has great closing speed and showed coaches an ability to be physical with receivers during all-star practice this week.
Grant joins 3-star prospect DerJuan Gambrell in Ohio State’s recruiting class. With a 6-foot-2 frame, the Toledo Rogers product has tremendous size and hands. There is a question of whether he will need to play safety at the next level, but the Buckeyes like him as a corner right now.
The spring will be interesting for a lot of reasons, and one of them will be the players who emerge to fill those holes on defense.
Grant is rated as the No. 2 player in the state of Ohio by both major recruiting services, which is huge because the Buckeyes already lost top-rated linebacker Trey DePriest to Alabama. Tressel has now landed commitments from six of the top-10 players in the state, according to Rivals, with Glenville offensive tackle Aundrey Walker still out there.
Ohio State Cornerback Classes since 2006:
Doran Grant (4/5 stars)
DerJuan Gambrell (3 stars)
Christian Bryant (4 stars) – Capable of playing corner, but better suited for “Star.”
Bradley Roby (3 stars) – Converted WR who redshirted in 2010.
C.J. Barnett (4 stars) – Since moved to safety.
Corey Brown (5 stars) – Since moved to safety.
Dominic Clarke (4 stars) – Listed in the 2-deep and played against Arkansas.
Travis Howard (4 stars) – No. 3 corner in 2010, probable starter for next season.
Eugene Clifford (4/5 stars) – Since left the team
James Scott (4 stars) – Since left the team
Devon Torrence (4 stars) – Two-year starter for the Buckeyes at corner.
Donnie Evege (4 stars) – Has never seen much playing time because of injuries.
Chimdi Chekwa (3 stars) – Three-year starter for the Buckeyes at corner.
Kurt Coleman (4 stars) –Move to safety, now in NFL.
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