Previous graduate transfer candidates had a chance to visit Ohio State.


For instance, before leaving Rutgers to join the Buckeyes last year, offensive lineman Jonah Jackson met with coaches in Columbus.


The option was not availed to Trey Sermon, the graduate transfer running back from Oklahoma who was added to the roster Wednesday.


With recruiting restricted because of the spread of the coronavirus, the Buckeyes staff had no in-person meeting with Sermon, only speaking remotely with him last month.


But coach Ryan Day did see Sermon up close three years ago.


“We played against him,” Day said, “and we saw what he could do on the field.”


Sermon's first college touchdown was scored against the Buckeyes. On the same night Baker Mayfield planted a flag at midfield of the Horseshoe, he also threw a 10-yard TD pass to the then-freshman running back.


More than 2,000 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns later, amassed during three seasons with the Sooners, Sermon is set to return to central Ohio to provide depth in the backfield for the Buckeyes as soon as the 2020 season.


As he spoke publicly about Sermon for the first time on a teleconference with reporters, Day said the addition was sparked by an Achilles tendon injury to running back Master Teague during Ohio State’s one week of spring practice, a setback that put them “behind the eight ball.”


With Teague sidelined, along with Marcus Crowley, who is recovering from a knee injury, the Buckeyes were going to have only one healthy scholarship running back for their remaining spring practices.


Sermon not only helps replenish depth, but he also figures to be a prime candidate to start as a senior to replace J.K. Dobbins.


“He can do a lot of things,” Day said. “He's big, strong, powerful. He's got good feet in the hole. He breaks tackles. He can run routes out of the backfield. He can pass-protect. I mean, he's versatile.”


The staff at Oklahoma also vouched for Sermon.


“People at Oklahoma had such great things to say about him,” said Day, who noted that Sermon was an academic honoree in the Big 12.


Defensive end commits


Ohio State added a 16th member to its top-ranked 2021 recruiting class Wednesday when four-star defensive end Tunmise Adeleye committed to the Buckeyes.


The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Adeleye is from Bradenton, Florida, and attends the IMG Academy. He is ranked as the No. 41 prospect nationally in the 247sports composite rankings and the No. 4 strong-side defensive end.


He had offers from most of the country’s top programs, including Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma as well as Big Ten rivals Michigan and Penn State.


The Buckeyes’ other defensive end commitment is Pickerington North’s Jack Sawyer, the No. 3 overall prospect in the 247sports ranking.


Saunders still in limbo


Ohio State has not received a decision from the NCAA about receiver C.J. Saunders’ petition for a sixth season of eligibility, but Day said “we’d love to have him back.”


“We're pushing on that,” Day said, “and we're hopeful.”


Day originally had been hoping for more clarity about Saunders’ hardship waiver by this month.


A former walk-on from Dublin Coffman, Saunders missed all of last season with a knee injury after he had been voted as a team captain.


jkaufman@dispatch.com


@joeyrkaufman