Why Lorenzo Styles Jr. decided to continue his position switch with Ohio State football

Columbus Dispatch
Lorenzo Styles Jr. experienced an “aha!" moment over the winter.
His revelation came while he was at Notre Dame and joined a handful of cornerbacks going through position drills. Styles had spent two seasons with the Fighting Irish as a wide receiver, but the group’s workout looked fun to someone with a simple fondness for the sport.
“I just love playing football in general,” Styles said.
As he lined up with teammates from the other side of the ball, he slipped back into his high school days from Pickerington Central when he also found himself in the secondary.
“It felt kind of natural,” Styles said.
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Styles soon broached a position switch with Marcus Freeman, the coach of the Irish, precipitating a move to defense.
But his receiver-to-cornerback transition will not be completed at Notre Dame. He put his name in the transfer portal in April and committed to Ohio State soon after his entry, bringing him to his hometown school and reuniting him with his younger brother, Sonny, a safety with the Buckeyes.
“When the opportunity came, I was like, 'This would be amazing to play at home with my brother in Ohio,' ” Styles said last week at a camp for elementary school children organized by CareSource and ProCamps.
If Styles faces a learning curve, secondary coach Tim Walton does not anticipate it to be a steep one.
“It’ll take a little time,” Walton said, “but he has a good football IQ.”
Experience in high school left Styles with a base of knowledge.
“You know being around the game if guys can make the transition,” Walton said. “He has the mentality. He has the attitude for it. And he has the physical makeup.”
Beyond their early interactions, Walton has reason for his confidence in Styles. His father, Lorenzo Sr., was one of Walton’s teammates while he was a cornerback for Ohio State in the early 1990s.
“You know the background of the family and the work ethic,” Walton said. “You know the discipline.”
As a sophomore at Notre Dame last season, Styles was the team’s second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown. When the Buckeyes met the Irish in the opener, Styles caught a pass that resulted in a 54-yard gain, bouncing off a missed tackle by safety Josh Proctor just past the line of scrimmage. It was Notre Dame’s longest pass play all year.
More:Lorenzo, Sonny Styles prepare for family affair when Ohio State football hosts Notre Dame
In spite of the moments of success, Styles saw a move to cornerback as one that could put him in a better position to reach the NFL and see a longer career in the league, viewing it as the position with a higher ceiling.
“I think I’m a pretty athletic specimen,” Styles said. “My skill set fits really well. I’m explosive. I’m fast. I’m pretty long. I can run. Having that translate to the defensive side of the ball would be pretty effective.”
Styles, who is listed as 6 feet 1 and 192 pounds, said he could have stayed with the Irish as he switched to cornerback and practiced there in April.
“Notre Dame is a great institution with a great coaching staff,” he said, “but I think this was the best thing for me.”
Styles said he liked the opportunities for development with the Buckeyes. He feels has also benefited from working out with the Buckeyes’ uber-talented group of receivers that includes Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka.
“We have some of the best receivers in the country,” Styles said, “so I’m trying to pick their brain, do different releases and mirror them a little bit.”
The path to immediate playing time is foggy, though.
Ohio State has restocked depth at cornerback on the recruiting trail and through the portal with the addition of Mississippi's Davison Igbinosun. The Buckeyes also have a returning starter in Denzel Burke with Jordan Hancock offering another talented option at the opposite spot.
More:Projecting Ohio State football's depth chart for defense and special teams
Still, Styles said he is working toward a goal of becoming a starter.
“That’s just my mindset,” he said.
Styles acknowledged the sentimentality of his transfer. It’s a brotherly reunion and a chance for his parents to watch their sons play together. He said Lorenzo Sr. is “just a proud dad” now that he and Sonny are at his alma mater.
But Lorenzo Jr. has bigger expectations for this stage.
“I don’t want to take it for granted,” he said. “I’m super blessed. But I’m not necessarily just happy to be here. I’m trying to be one of the best players in the country. I’m trying to use all the resources we have with the coaches. I’m really bought in with what they’re trying to do, trying to be the best I can be.”

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