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tBBC Pre-Spring Outlook: Secondary

Discussion in 'News' started by Brandon Zimmerman, Mar 2, 2016.

  1. Pre-Spring Outlook: Secondary
    Brandon Zimmerman
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here

    With the recruits signed, sealed, and almost delivered it is officially time to look forward to the 2016 football season. While the Buckeyes are already getting ready behind the scenes, things do not start to jump into another gear until the Buckeyes begin their spring practice on March 8th. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be taking a look at each positional group for the Buckeyes and discussing who might start and how the depth chart may shake up. Today, we take a look at the defensive backfield where the Buckeyes will be replacing three future NFL players in Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, and Tyvis Powell. This is possibly the toughest positional group to pinpoint starters at. The Buckeyes do a great job of recruiting versatile athletes who can play a multitude of positions so outside of Conley; it is just pure speculation at this point on where guys will wind up.


    There is one returning starter in the defensive backfield and that is redshirt junior Gareon Conley. Conley started last year opposite of Apple and had 49 tackles, 2 interceptions, 5 pass break-ups, 1 tackle-for-loss, and 1 blocked kick. He grew as the season went on and

    Conley played great in his first year as starter.

    Apple and he became one of the best tandems in college football. Coming out of Ohio as a high school star, Conley was a consensus four-star recruit and ranked as a Top-100 player nationally. Conley’s experience will be relied on heavily as he has played in 29 games over the past two seasons.

    With Conley having one cornerback spot on lock-down, a handful of former top prospects will be vying for the three open positions. One player is the lone senior on the defensive side of the ball, Cam Burrows. Burrows has bounced around in the cornerback and safety rotation over the past couple of years and is constantly competing for a starting job. Last year, Burrows only played in 3 games before being injured. He finished the season with 3 tackles and 1 pass break-up. Burrows has played in 29 games over the past three years. He is a former consensus four-star recruit out of Ohio who was the number 38th ranked prospect nationally.

    Junior Erick Smith has dazzled fans over the past couple of years. His performances during practice and spring games have had people hoping for more and more playing time. The problem for Smith was he was stuck behind two very good safeties in Bell and Powell. Those two are now gone, so it is Smith’s chance to show he is healthy and ready for a starting role. Before his injury in 2015, Smith played in 6 games and finished the season with 6 tackles. Coming out of Glenville, Smith was a consensus Top-100 player and four-star recruit.

    To round out the upper-classmen we have junior Damon Webb. Webb has spent a

    Webb’s hopes for a bounce back season after a 2015 to forget.

    majority of the past two seasons playing the third cornerback role for the Buckeyes when needed. Webb was suspended for six games last year pending an investigation but still managed to finish the year with 10 tackles on the season. Webb was a consensus four-star recruit and consensus Top-50 player nationally. Webb will be in the thick of things at numerous positions this year.

    Redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore has battled injuries over his first two years on campus but was able to work his way into the playing rotation last year. As a back-up cornerback, Lattimore finished the season with 5 tackles and 3 pass break-ups over seven games played. Lattimore was a consensus four-star recruit and Top-50 player nationally when he game to Ohio State from Glenville.

    Fellow redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker will be in a full on battle for one of the starting safety spots. In fact, right now many believe he would start if the season began tomorrow. Hooker played in 13 games last season, primarily on special teams, and finished the season with 10 tackles. He is only going into his fifth season of playing football so he is still very raw in some aspects. He has the size the Buckeyes look for at safety and his basketball background gives him the ability to go up and make plays on wide receivers.

    Two true sophomores round out the sophomore class and both of them spent a lot of time on special teams last year. The first is Denzel Ward out of Nordonia, Ohio. Ward is looking to be fully entrenched in the cornerback two-deep if he is unable to steal the job from one of the upper-classmen. Ward was rated as a four-star recruit by scout and 247Sports. He finished last season with 7 tackles.

    The second true sophomore is the sensational Eric Glover-Williams out of Canton, Ohio. Glover-Williams came to Columbus as one of the most exciting athletes in high school. He

    Redshirt freshman Eric Glover-Williams hopes to make a huge impact in 2016.

    was a consensus four-star recruit and Top-100 player nationally. In 2016 as a true freshman, Glover-Williams played on special teams but did not appear on the stat sheet.

    Two redshirt freshmen and five true freshmen will be the final group competing for a spot on the depth chart. The biggest threat out of this bunch is true freshman Jordan Fuller who is versatile enough to play corner or safety. Fuller was a consensus four-star recruit from New Jersey. I believe the Buckeyes will put Fuller at cornerback this year but he may be moved to safety later on in his career based on needs. The only thing keeping Fuller off the field this year is his health.

    The two redshirt freshmen competing for playing time are Joshua Norwood and Damon Arnette. Norwood is a cornerback from Georgia who was a three-star recruit. Arnette is a former three-star recruit out of Florida and is a safety for the Buckeyes. Both of these guys show an enormous amount of potential but will have to prove themselves this year otherwise they may get left behind with the fantastic defensive back class brought in this year. Expect to see these two athletes names appear on special teams a lot this year.

    Fuller is not the only true freshman looking to make a name for them self in the secondary.

    True freshman Jordan Fuller will be a key player from the start.

    The Buckeyes brought in two more corners in Kareem Felder and Wayne Davis and two more safeties in Jahsen Wint and Rodjay Burns. Davis was a four-star recruit out of Virginia and has the best chance to make a significant impact on the 2016 Buckeyes. The trio of Burns, Felder, and Wint are all three-star recruits who will more than likely redshirt this season.



    1. Gareon Conley
    2. Jordan Fuller


    1. Damon Webb
    2. Eric Glover-Williams


    1. Erick Smith
    2. Cam Burrows


    1. Marshon Lattimore
    2. Malik Hooker

    At this point of the year, I am fairly confident with the starting four but am in the air between Lattimore and Webb switching positions. Both of these guys could play safety or cornerback and it will ultimately come down to who plays the best in spring ball before I update my prediction. Right now, I went with Lattimore at safety because he has the size to take Powell’s place and he has a great rapport with former high school teammate Smith who I think will start at the other safety spot.

    It was honestly really hard for me to not have Burrows starting at the other safety spot. My initial version of the depth chart had Lattimore at CB and Burrows starting at safety but I talked myself out of it. I just think the Buckeyes have to have their four best defenders on the field and right now I think Webb is better than Burrows. This will be a fun position to watch during the spring game when Urban does his annual 70 passes a game scrimmage.


    Quarterbacks – 15 Feb

    Running Backs – 17 Feb

    Wide Receivers – 19 Feb

    Tight Ends – 22 Feb

    Offensive Line – 24 Feb

    Defensive Line – 26 Feb

    Linebackers – 29 Feb

    Secondary – 2 Mar

    Special Teams – 4 Mar

    The post Pre-Spring Outlook: Secondary appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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