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Will an SEC cornerback help Ohio State football or Michigan decide The Game in November?

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 1/30/2023 Nathan Baird,

COLUMBUS, Ohio — To help solidify a secondary torched too often in its biggest games last season, Ohio State football is recruiting a transfer cornerback out of the Southeastern Conference.

So is the Buckeyes’ biggest rival, though, and a handful of other programs. Davison Igbinosun has emerged as one of the most sought-after players in the country since the former Ole Miss cornerback entered the transfer portal two weeks ago.

Igbinosun, a freshman All-American last season per College Football News, spent his weekend on a guided tour of the Big Ten East. After taking his official visit in Columbus, he headed up to Ann Arbor to do the same. Tennessee has been in pursuit of the New Jersey native, and also recently visited UCLA.

UPDATE: While Igbinosun has not yet announced a destination, his name does appear in Tennessee’s student directory.

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Such an itinerary becomes possible when you are the considered the best remaining player in the portal at a position of such consequence. In the 247 Sports portal tracker, Igbinosun was ranked 10th overall, and is the top-ranked player who remains uncommitted.

Players needed only to enter the portal by the Jan. 18 deadline in order to be immediately eligible this fall with their new teams. However, OSU can still add players in the portal to fill roster holes or upgrade at critical positions.

The 6-2, 185-pound Igbinosun may be able to do both. He was a four-star, top-200 prospect when he arrived at Ole Miss from Union, N.J. He started 10 of 13 games, collecting 37 tackles, five pass breakups and allowing three touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus.

Ohio State returns an intriguing but somewhat unproven mix of cornerbacks. Denzel Burke could be a three-year starter, but took a step back from his own freshman All-America season. Jordan Hancock, a top-100 prospect in the 2021, was expected to compete for a starting job until a preseason hamstring injury essentially ruined his season.

True freshman Jyaire Brown started once and played 10 games, showing promise. Another freshman, Ryan Turner, played in four games as a reserve. Jermaine Mathews is an early enrollee in the 2023 class, and fellow top-100 prospect Calvin Simpson-Hunt arrives this summer.

That again means only six scholarship cornerbacks, including two true freshmen. That is precisely the numbers crunch that caught up to the Buckeyes when Burke, Hancock and Cam Brown all battled injuries last season.

Ohio State went into the portal window needing help at both offensive tackle and cornerback. Finding players of starting caliber at any position, though, is never assured. Igbinosun would certainly raise the level of competition at a position that has fallen short of OSU’s historical standard for the past three seasons.

Other programs feel the same way, though. Maybe the players OSU already recruited will stay healthy this fall and handle the job. Adding Igbinosun would make them work that much harder to prove it.

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