Ohio State football: Practice makes perfect for Lakota West freshman

COLUMBUS -- Jyaire Brown needed time to get used to his surroundings while making his first college start for Ohio State.

One play’s worth.

After that, the Lakota West grad said he settled in and felt comfortable helping the Buckeyes top Wisconsin 52-21 in their Big Ten opener.

“For me it was just taking all my practice skills and everything I do in practice and applying it to the game,” the true freshman cornerback said. “We practice at high energy, high intensity and me getting in that situation, it was just slow down and play how I practice.”

Brown was pushed into duty along with redshirt freshman JK Johnson as a result of starters Cam Brown and Denzel Burke nursing injuries.

How much either youngster plays once the veterans are healthy — which could be this week when Rutgers comes to town — remains to be seen, but Jyaire Brown said he will be ready to answer the bell again thanks in large part to the challenges he faces every day in practice from Ohio State’s talented receiving corps.

“I think that confidence comes from just practicing against the best receivers every day,” he said. “Seeing the best you can see and then getting in games against other opponents, it kind of neutralizes that because you see the best in the business every day. I just try to use that to my advantage and prepare as if nobody else we play is as good as those guys.”

He credited secondary coach Tim Walton with preparing him for his big moment, something that could have been a great challenge for Walton since he just joined the coaching staff in January and did not have a prior relationship with any of the current players.

“He’s a guru, man,” Brown said of Walton. “The way he goes about his day, how he moves around the building, that demeanor is real business-like.

“He teaches us to lock in every little detail so things we may not have seen or things we may look over sometimes.”

Walton, a former Buckeye cornerback himself, spent the last 14 years coaching in the NFL, but he said he is enjoying his return to college.

“My calling is the development of young men, so it’s fun to me,” said Walton, a Georgia native who has maintained his Southern accent. “First of all, I get a chance to come back to my alma mater where I played football. So that’s great for me. That’s heaven to be back on the grounds I played on. So I know the history. I know the tradition. And I know what comes with that.”

The quality of players he inherited has helped, although that goes beyond physical talent.

“The fact you get to work with young men who have a passion to play at a high level and you can be a part of their development is great for me,” Walton said. “So I look forward to the challenge. I embrace it. And we have a lot of great guys that love football, are passionate about growing and learning.”

Although he did not have a role in recruiting Brown (who signed in December and enrolled in January) or any of the other players on the roster, Walton knew what he had to do to put himself in position to help them.

“I know that starts with relationships, so I try to build great relationships with these guys,” he said. “We work on football, and then I try to use some of the things that I know about the game to try to help them see the game through a different light, and try to expedite their learning curve and it’s been good with them.”

Jyaire Brown said that was not lost on him, and he appreciates Walton’s approach.

“He goes deeply beyond coaching,” the freshman said. “He teaches us about life and how to take care of our money and things like that you might not get from a coach a lot of the times, so I try to be around him all as much as I can, picking his brain and taking the knowledge he has.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Rutgers at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., BTN, 1410

About the Author