Linebacker Raesjon Davis emerges as late target for Ohio State in 2021 recruiting cycle

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
One of the last top uncommitted recruits in the class of 2021, linebacker Raesjon Davis made an unofficial visit to Ohio State last weekend and indicated he liked what he saw.

If the Ohio State football team makes any late additions to its 2021 recruiting class during next week's second signing period, it likely will involve linebacker Raesjon Davis.

A top-50 prospect from southern California, Davis and his family visited the university last weekend and left with a favorable impression.

“We had a great time in Columbus, might be back soon,” Davis tweeted.

For most of the past year, Davis appeared to be headed to LSU, committing during its 2019 national championship run. Coach Ed Orgeron’s ties to the West Coast helped garner a verbal pledge, as did one of his former high school teammates.

Cornerback Elias Ricks, who spent three seasons at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana before transferring to IMG Academy for his senior season, joined the Tigers in 2020.

But Davis decommitted last month after LSU finished .500 and self-imposed a one-year postseason ban because of NCAA violations.

Now Ohio State, as well as Oregon and USC, are among the considerations as Davis looks to announce a decision as soon as Wednesday.

OSU coach Ryan Day said last week the Buckeyes have one spot available in their recruiting class for 2021 after signing 21 commits in December. Their class, which sits No. 2 nationally in 247Sports’ composite rankings, would be strengthened by the addition of Davis.

“I think it'd be huge for a lot of reasons,” said Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports who has covered recruiting in southern California for more than two decades. “Number one, I think he's one of the best linebackers in the country. And to come out to the West Coast, it just kind of furthers their national brand.”

Biggins pointed to Ohio State’s recent success in recruiting out West. It signed Emeka Egbuka, the top-ranked receiver recruit in the 2021 class from Steilacoom, Washington, and is among the finalists for defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau, the top overall prospect in the class, who plays for Eastside Catholic High School near Seattle.

During the last recruiting cycle, the program brought in two players from southern California in quarterback C.J. Stroud and linebacker Kourt Williams, who were freshmen this past fall.

“It kind of helps you kind of build more of a national pipeline into a key area,” Biggins added.

When Davis last stepped onto the field for Mater Dei, as a junior in 2019, he showed his ability as a pass rusher, finishing with 7.5 sacks. But it is his ability in coverage that has made him a coveted prospect.

Biggins said the playmaking skills stood out when he appeared in 7-on-7 passing competitions and was matched up against receivers.

“He fits that guy who is more athletic and plays in space,” Biggins said. “He's an exceptional cover backer. He's got some pass rush to him, but he's only 6-1, 210, so he's not going to be an edge guy.”

The Buckeyes could further benefit from the addition of a linebacker in their 2021 class. They only added only one during the early signing period in Reid Carrico of Ironton.

Carrico was the fifth-ranked inside linebacker in the class and No. 84 overall prospect; Davis is the fourth-ranked outside linebacker and No. 48 overall prospect, according to 247Sports’ latest composite rankings.

A longer wait for a decision from Tuimoloau, the other remaining top target for Ohio State in the current recruiting cycle, is in order.

This week, his father told Brandon Huffman, a national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, that J.T. won’t settle on a school until at least April, citing a desire to make a handful of visits.

Because of the NCAA’s recruiting dead period that is in effect until mid-April due to the coronavirus pandemic, schools cannot host prospects for official visits.

As a result, Tuimoloau has not visited Ohio State. By delaying a decision, he could take an official trip this spring if the restrictions are eased. He has seen his other finalists, including Alabama, Oregon, USC and Washington.

When prospects have visited campus in recent months like Davis, they have only done so on an unofficial basis and have been unable to meet with coaches or tour the football facilities.

Unofficial visits also mean prospects and their families must pay their own way for travel expenses and the like. Tuimoloau's potential trek to Columbus, therefore, could be more accommodating if pandemic rules are relaxed in the spring.