COLUMBUS – You might say Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Eli Apple and Bradley Roby recruited Lejond Cavazos to Ohio State.
It wasn’t necessarily anything they said. It was what they did.
The former Ohio State cornerbacks played the same position Cavazos wants to play for Ohio State. And they all were first-round selections in the NFL draft.
Cavazos, a 6-foot, 1-inch, 195-pound defensive back from Texas by way of IMG Academy, who runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and has a 44-inch vertical jump, hopes to play in the NFL someday.
So, the 4-star recruit decided Ohio State was the place he wanted to play college football. In fact, he decided it twice.
“Knowing that you have a first-rounder every year at the position I play, you have to step up, regardless of if you’re ready or not. You have to step up and hold the legacy there,” Cavazos said.
“There’s going to be first-rounders this year, next year, the year after me and so on. This is a cornerback school. There’s a lot of position schools but when you think of Ohio State, you think of Cornerback U. So that was a big thing for me.”
Cavazos, whose father has known Urban Meyer for more than 30 years, originally committed to Ohio State in June of 2018. But he reopened his recruitment after Urban Meyer announced his retirement. By April of 2019 he was comfortable enough with Ryan Day and new defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley to choose OSU again.
Since then, he has talked to a number of the players whose places on NFL rosters helped convince him Ohio State was where he should be.
“I talk to Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore, all those guys. They all treat me like family, like we played together or something,” Cavazos said.
But he didn’t choose Ohio State just because he was starstruck. The son of a coach, he began evaluating college football programs once he decided football would be his No. 1 sport.
“I did not watch football growing up. I was not really a big football fan, I started football in seventh grade and I ran track my whole life,” Cavazos said.
“When I started getting offers my freshman year, that is when I started taking football seriously and looking into schools and seeing what they had going on there and who is doing what at my position and what school is doing this? How many games are you winning a year? What are the coaches like? How are they coaching you on and off the field?”
Once he decided Ohio State was where he wanted to be, Cavazos became a bit of a recruiter for the Buckeyes, most notably with 5-star wide receiver Justin Fleming, rated the top receiver nationally in the 2020 recruiting class.
“I just wanted to play with a bunch of dogs,” Cavazos said. He called several of his future teammates in the 2020 recruiting class, but Fleming was the first one he called.
Fleming said, “The main reason I really looked into Ohio State was probably because of him. I finally came on a visit and I was like, ‘I like this place.’ And then I just kept coming on visits, and I eventually fell in love.”
Cavazos had more on his mind than winning a lot of games when he tried to convince highly regarded receivers like Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr., Mookie Cooper and Fleming to come to Ohio State. He figured working against them in practice would make him better, too.
“Just knowing what they could do with me, going against them every day in practice, going against guys like him, Jaxon, Gee, Mookie and all the guys that are already here, I wanted the best receivers to come so we could be the best defensive backs,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau