MotSaG look at the Cornerbacks

osuHelmetThe cornerback position is a fan favorite on this football team, partially due to the amount of enthusiasm position coach Kerry Coombs exudes on a daily basis, and also due to the electric players that have traditionally been produced at this position from this program. Guys like Antoine Winfield, Malcom Jenkins, Shawn Springs, and Chris Gamble, have dawned the Scarlet and Grey at the cornerback position, and left the bar extremely high for future cornerbacks coming out of Ohio State. This may be the year we see another all time great corner, in Bradley Roby, join the Mount Rushmore of Ohio State Cornerbacks. Behind Roby, there are other young Buckeyes looking to make some noise this upcoming year and become a cornerstone for the 2013 Silver Bullets.

Last Year Performance
The cornerback position presented some promise entering last Spring. Buckeye fans knew that Travis Howard was an above average cornerback who, with a little more dedication and coaching, could be a strength of the OSU secondary. However, as Kerry Coombs took over the cornerback coaching, his guy was redshirt Sophomore Bradley Roby. “He’s big, and he’s fast, and he’s physical, and he’s intelligent and he’s got great change of direction,” Coombs said. “His transition is outstanding. And if Bradley’s not a first-round draft pick down the road, that would be a shame.”

As we all know, Roby did not disappoint in his 2012 campaign, as he lead the nation in passes broken up, and became an All-American corner. Howard was no stiff either, as he worked past his early season troubles to become a solid corner for the 2012 Buckeyes. Overall I would give the cornerbacks a solid B from last year. They did not force as many turnovers as Coach Coombs, and Buckeye fans, would have liked, but they were a sure strength for the defense.

Starters Lost
Travis Howard- 2012 Stats- 39 tackles, 4 interceptions

Player to Watch
Bradley Roby- As predictable as this is, it is hard not to mention and watch Roby. The guy is an electric play-maker on the defensive side of the ball. He is good in run support, good in zone coverage, and excels in man coverage. He also enjoys running his mouth off to TTUN players, and dominating them as well. I expect Roby to become more of a ball-hawk this year and a complete shutdown corner. Look for Roby to turn some of those pass break ups from last year, into interceptions this year. I also think Buckeye fans should expect Roby to lead the youth we have at this position. Even with his off the field issues, the greatest teacher for youth is experience, and Roby has his fair share of that on and off the field, that he can share with the rest of this group. Judging from his role as player coach this spring, I think Coombs and Meyer trust Roby, and will give him a leadership role that will carry much more significance this year.

roby_jawing

Player that Needs to Step Up
Doran Grant- Grant is a relatively unknown Buckeye. He was neck and neck with Travis Howard going in to fall camp last year, as a freshman, until Howard beat him out. However, Grant was a key contributor on Special Teams last year. When he earned time on the field at corner he recorded a sack, interception, and forced fumble, so he does have a niche for finding the football. Grant is 5’11, 190 pounds which will help him match up physically against any receiver he faces. Grant was also tied for second, with Braxton Miller, and behind 1st place Bradley Roby, in the fastest 40 time on the team registering a 4.32. Grant has all of the physical attributes, and talent to fill the void Howard left behind. However, he will need to improve his knowledge of the position, along with his technique, in order to become the second shut down corner of the Buckeye defense. He may be young but welcome to life of being an Ohio State Buckeye, it is either step up or move on, there is little to no time for wait and see.

Sleeper Pick
Armani Reeves- Reeves was a vital member of the “Piranhas” on Special Teams last year, and when he went down with an injury it was very noticeable. Reeves is a very good tackler, that also possesses good coverage skills. I expect him to be a very solid #3 corner in the Buckeyes rotation, but I would not be surprised if he challenges Grant for a starting role this Fall. Reeves will need to improve his consistency, and soak in all the coaching and experience he can get. He was able to gain some first team snaps this spring, as Roby sat out, and looked pretty good filling in. If Reeves can step in, be a solid corner, and occasionally flash the ball hawk ability he has shown on Special Teams, this defensive secondary will be lethal.

Prediction of Performance
This group is very inexperienced at playing corner. Most of these guys played on Special Teams last year and contributed immensely. However, I think there will be a lot of growing pains with the number two and three corners, that they will have to go through in order to become consistent contributors. They have the speed, instinct, and talent to become good corners, but there is so much inexperience at this position, that I think it is going to take a great coaching job, from Coach Coombs, to get these guys playing, and understanding, the complex coverage’s they will be asked to play. One side of the field is accounted for with Roby, as long as he keeps his head on straight and stays hungry. While Doran Grant may have a firm strong hold on the second corner spot, his experience starting at the position is little to none. It may take him a few games to get acclimated to being the other guy. However, he will get thrown to a lot due to how talented Roby is, so I’m pretty confident he will grow throughout the year. Whoever plays the number three cornerback, whether it is Armani Reeves, Eli Apple, or Gareon Conley, will be a sophomore or freshman. At the end of the year, I expect this position from one to six to be a major strength for this defense due to the upside of all of these players, and how great of a coach Kerry Coombs is.

Depth Chart (starters in italics)
Boundary CornerBradley Roby, Armani Reeves or Gareon Conley
Field CornerDoran Grant, Eli Apple

(Image courtesy of HoneyChild Photography)

Comments

  1. Great stuff Ronnie… I have always been a huge Doran Grant fan and I think he has the skills and body to be a dominant CB. He just needs to step up and play good football because no one will throw at Roby.

  2. The great thing about this position is, if Grant doesn’t work out then plug Reeves in. If he doesn’t work out then plug Apple in. There is so much depth here, granted it is young depth, but it is also talented depth. Meyer has built up and exploited the talent at Ohio State so well in just a year and a half. Also, having Kerry Coombs as the position coach has helped tremendously. He brings out so much in his players with not only his energy, but also his knowledge.

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