football Edit

Buckeyes land top Ohio cornerback

Smith is Ohio's top ranked cornerback prospect in the 2021 class.
Smith is Ohio's top ranked cornerback prospect in the 2021 class. (

It didn't take long for Cincinnati (Ohio) La Salle star Devonta Smith to make his commitment to Ohio State. Ohio's top ranked cornerback prospect received his offer from the Buckeyes on Thursday and on Monday morning made public what he knew immediately upon receiving the offer, that he's a Buckeye.

Smith racked up some big early offers, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Penn State, but will be taking his talents about 90 minutes north on I-71.

"I just felt like coach Coombs can develop me both on and off the field," Smith told of his commitment. "I feel like the prestigious academics of Ohio State was a big deal for both my mother and for me, I really take pride in that. I feel like the academic part at Ohio State is like no other. Lastly, I'd probably say the football thing, why not play at Ohio State? It's just Ohio State, I don't know any kid from Ohio, even if you didn't grow up a fan, that wouldn't dream of putting on the scarlet and gray."

Smith was initially hoping to return to Ohio State in late March with his family and that visit was going to be the business trip that would hopefully lead to a commitment. As industries across the nation are shutting down temporarily due to COVID-19 concerns, that visit was going to have to be rescheduled. But Smith knew where he wanted to be and moved up his timeline a few weeks.

"I've been up there before but my family hasn't," Smith explained. "It was just like 'let's do this and when we can get back up there, we will'. I really didn't want to wait too long to commit or anything, whether it was now or a month or two from now. I don't know how this coronavirus stuff is going to work so I just didn't want to wait. I want to focus on my high school team and getting back to state and defending our championship."

Despite not getting the full Ohio State experience, Smith says his family has backed his decision fully and is eager to get up to Columbus once the pause in on-campus recruiting is lifted.

"My family is very supportive," he said. "They trust me to be mature and that I'm not going to make any decision that I don't feel in my heart would be best for me or them."

Ohio State's recruitment of Smith predated Coombs' return to Columbus, but things really ramped up when the Cincinnati native came back to the college ranks in January.

"Things just shot off since (Coombs returned to Ohio State)," Smith explained. "The day he touched down in Columbus, he drove to Cincinnati and came to our school. He wanted to make sure the relationship was real with me and Ohio State. He grew up on the west side (of Cincinnati) and I grew up on the west side, like a five minute radius between where we grew up."

The Queen City was common ground for Smith and Coombs but as Smith got more familiar with the Ohio State defensive coordinator, the personalities just clicked.

"I would probably say number one is his fiery attitude," Smith stated. "I feel like I have that inside of me as well and that he'll bring that out of me even more. He's going to develop me like no other coach could and give me the best possible opportunity of making it to the next level. He's just a great person to talk to and obviously just having our connection with being from Cincinnati (is a positive)."

Beyond the relationships with the coaching staff, Smith will have even more reason to be comfortable in Columbus as he'll be joining his classmate and best friend Jaylen Johnson in the class.

"Jaylen and my family, we're like blood, we're family," he said. "When I got that offer, he just told me that was the place that I needed to be and we just have so much in common beyond just being family. Jaylen was so fired up, man. When I told him, he was like jumping off the walls, texting me all these paragraphs and everything. We've played pee wee football together and then high school and now we'll be playing together in college."

Smith becomes the second high profile cornerback to commit to Ohio State in as many days, joining St. Louis area star Jakailin Johnson. Being pushed within the cornerbacks room as well as on the other side of the field by a loaded stable of young receivers is something that Smith plans to embrace.

"I'm a competitor," he said. "Playing time or a starting position, I'm going to fight for that. Competition is what drives me and what will push me to reach my max potential. Obviously with coach Coombs developing me, who knows where that could take me. Opposite of us, they brought in the best receivers in the class of 2020. I feel like that will just take my game to the next level, practicing against the best receivers will just make the games more simple."

Smith is commitment No. 12 for Ohio State's 2021 recruiting class, which is currently ranked number one in the nation.