Ohio State had another cornerback taken in the NFL draft in the spring to continue an impressive streak, but the unit’s overall play left a lot to be desired last season.
New coaches Jeff Hafley and Matt Barnes have been brought in to overhaul the entire secondary, and they have plenty to work with.
Here is a look at the cornerbacks:
Returning starters: Damon Arnette,
Rising: Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade
Others to know: Sevyn Banks, Cameron Brown, Tyreke Johnson, Xavier Johnson, Lloyd McFarquhar, Marcus Williamson
Arnette is a two-year starter with four career interceptions and 105 tackles. He started all 13 games last year as part of a three-man rotation with Okudah and Kendall Sheffield, who was drafted in the third round by the Atlanta Falcons in April.
Sheffield became the seventh OSU corner drafted in the last six years, a run that includes every starter since 2013 aside from Arnette.
Okudah, a junior-to-be who was a five-star prospect coming out of Texas, started one game last season and logged 34 tackles with eight passes defended.
All three of the regulars had their ups and downs last season, as is to be expected when a team finishes 86th in the country in passing yards allowed, but they figure to benefit from a new position coach.
Wade is an interesting case. Another five-star prospect, he played cornerback, nickel back and safety last year as a redshirt freshman and showed flashes of star potential. He started two games and finished with 31 tackle, three interceptions and 10 passes defended. His role this fall isn’t defined yet, but he is sure to be on the field — a lot.
Williamson is a junior from Central Ohio who prepped at IMG Academy in Florida and is still looking to care out a role in the defense while Banks, Brown and Tyreke Johnson are all sophomores who were highly regarded recruits and have yet to break into the lineup.
With the trend of college offenses to play fast and run as many plays as they can, there should be playing time for more than just the top two or three at this position.
Quotable: Hafley on Arnette: “I studied his film as I was getting ready to take the job and I saw a very talented player. He plays hard and has tremendous ability. Can cover, tough, physical, and then I saw the same things on the field. He’s a guy that loves football and a guy who works hard, a guy who gave it his all every single day, a guy who actually seemed like he enjoyed being out there. He played with confidence and has a ton of ability.”
Hafley on Okudah: “I think Okudah at the line of scrimmage right now is a different player. He has got to learn to win at the line of scrimmage and maybe I am getting too detailed, but that is the truth. Really talented guy, to me he has a ton of tools. His skillset at the line of scrimmage with the ability to get his hands on people, that is the one thing that I told him that we needed to work on, and I think that he did that.”
Hafley on Wade: “I am training the corners to cover, training them to play a third, training them to play quarters, so all of that going into it I am trying to teach him so I can plug him and play him where we need him. I think he can play corner; he can play inside, I have not seen him play much deep safety and I did not want to do that to him in the spring, but he is a talented guy.”
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