Ohio State head coach Ryan Day walks onto the field before the Big Ten Championship game against Wisconsin Dec. 7. Ohio State won 34-21. Credit: Cori Wade | Assistant Photo Editor

Efforts to contain COVID-19 led the Ohio State football program to shut down spring practice, cancel its Spring Game and pause all recruiting trips.

Those stops didn’t clog the flow of highly touted commitments for the Buckeyes’ 2021 class, though.

The Buckeyes landed four commits, two of them top 100 overall prospects, in a three-day span from March 15-17 and topped it off with the addition of a senior running back from the transfer portal Sunday.

Four-star cornerback Jakailin Johnson kicked off the fireworks March 15, choosing Ohio State over offers from programs such as Clemson, Georgia and Florida. 

Johnson is the No. 59 prospect overall and No. 1 in the state of Missouri. The fourth-rated cornerback adds solid length and athleticism to the Ohio State secondary, but might need to fill out his 6-foot, 160-pound frame before getting significant playing time at the collegiate level.

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day previously said the Buckeyes have a vested interest in adding a high volume of Ohio prospects to their classes in the future, and three-star cornerback Devonta Smith became the seventh commitment from the state to join the 2021 class March 16.

Smith, who hails from La Salle High School in Cincinnati, currently stands as the lowest-rated prospect in the class for Ohio State at No. 429 overall, but he intercepted three passes for a state-title winning squad this past season at No. 2 on the team. 

The Buckeyes now hold two commitments from La Salle in 2021, with Smith joining four-star safety Jaylen Johnson.

He was just one piece of a seven-star Monday for the Buckeyes, though.

Ohio State also secured the services of four-star running back Evan Pryor, the No. 6 running back in the country and No. 85 overall.

Pryor was clocked at a blazing 4.31 in the 40-yard dash at The Opening regionals April 28, 2019, a mark which would have finished No. 3 among running backs at the 2020 NFL Draft combine. Pryor was preparing for his junior year of high school.

Rounding out the commitment surge was a pledge from four-star safety Andre Turrentine, the No. 136 overall player and No. 3 from the state of Tennessee. Turrentine picked the Buckeyes over programs such as Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and LSU.

With the splash, Ohio State’s hold on the top spot for the 2021 recruiting team rankings turned to a vise grip, as its 268.81 points now stand far beyond No. 2-rated Clemson’s 220.98. The Buckeyes average a rating of 95.09 per commit, second only to the Tigers.

The Buckeyes’ team-building efforts stayed quiet all of five days before news of another addition, this time from the transfer portal, arrived.

Former Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon, who will be a senior in the 2020-21 season, announced his move to Ohio State Sunday.

Sermon rushed for 2,076 yards in three seasons with the Sooners, with a high-water mark of 947 yards in 2018. After getting usurped by then-redshirt sophomore Kennedy Brooks in 2019, he averaged 7.1 yards per carry as Oklahoma’s backup running back before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 11 against Iowa State.

Ohio State was down to one scholarship running back in spring 2020 after an injury to redshirt sophomore Master Teague. The addition of Sermon brings crucial depth to the position room, and after the departure of J.K. Dobbins, he’ll compete for the starting role in the backfield.

Teague, should he return from injury in time, will be his main competition.