Spring practice has started in Columbus, and we are continuing our preview look at each position group at Ohio State. It’s time to take a look at the cornerback position.
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Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Cornerback
Ohio State is known for churning out NFL talent at multiple position groups, but none more so than the secondary here in recent memory. This year, Ohio State loses a probable first round talent in Denzel Ward, so others must step up. As always, there is potential that should be able to step in.
Ward rose to stardom last year and has quickly rose in the NFL Draft projections. He has great ball skills and closing ability that the scouts drool over, and that will need to be replaced this year. He struggled early on, but quickly became the Buckeyes’ best cover man.
Arnette was a part of the rotation in 2017 and he’ll likely get a look at starting this year. At the least, he’ll at least be in on the similar rotation Ohio State has used in the past where the top four get about the same playing time. The 6-0, 195 lb. junior struggled at times when challenged last year, but he has all the physical tools to be very good. You’d expect some further development from the off-season, and the coaching staff need him to step up in 2018.
Sheffield is a former five-star recruit that committed to Alabama but went the JUCO route after getting lost in the mix in Tuscaloosa. He excelled once on the field and was rated as the No. 1 cornerback recruit coming out of junior college. Ohio State quickly picked him up. As he saw the playing field last year, he began to show flashes of his potential. He’s got sprinter speed and could challenge for a starting spot this year. The hope is that he does.
According to 247Sports, Okudah was considered the No. 1 cornerback recruit coming out of high school and saw time last year as a freshman. He’s expected to compete and slot into the rotation this year with the extra year of seasoning and the departure of Ward. However, it was revealed that he’s out with a shoulder injury this spring, so we’ll see if he can close the gap when the summer and fall hits.
Wade is another sophomore-to-be that was also a five-star recruit coming out of high school. If new cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson continues rotating fresh bodies in the secondary, then he too could push to get into the top four rotation. With his skill set and abilities, he will likely be in the mix at some point, it’s just a question of whether it happens this year or not.
Riep will also be a sophomore, and was a four star recruit coming out of high school. He didn’t see much playing time last year other than special teams, but with a good spring and beyond, he too could be in the mix.
Yes, Williamson will also be a sophomore, and is a local product that was also highly sought after as a four-star recruit. He too saw limited action and could be an option again on special teams, or if he busts out in the spring and fall. At this point, he’ll probably show up beyond the top four as added depth.
Banks is four-star recruit from Orlando, Florida and has already enrolled and taking part of spring drills. That could give him a jump on the competition, but there’s simply too much returning talent ahead of him on the depth chart to be a factor this year. He’ll be in the mix in years to come.
If the last name is familiar, it should be. Marcus is the brother of former stud safety at Ohio State Malik Hooker, who had one of the best one-year seasons in recent memory. He was only rated as a three-star recruit coming out of New Jersey, but if he develops into anything like his brother, you can add him to the mix of guys that could burst on the scene in the near future — just not this year.
Johnson will be an intriguing story through the spring and beyond. He enrolled early and is already taking part of spring drills, meaning he’ll have a chance to make an impression. He was one of the jewels of this recruiting cycle and spurned a lot of big-time programs. Whether or not he can impress enough to be considered for one of the top spots is still to be determined. It’ll also be interesting to see if he gets used as a safety or cornerback based on need. But still, he’s in the mix.
Predicting the Pecking Order
- Kendall Sheffield
- Jeffrey Okudah
- Marcus Williamson
- Amir Riep
- Marcus Hooker*
- Damon Arnette
- Shaun Wade
- Tyreke Johson*
- Sevyn Banks*
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