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Friday, March 11, 2016

2016 Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Youth Will Be Served, Early And Often – CB Preview

“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth…” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
 
Ohio State began spring football practice on March 8th. Heading into the 2016 college football season, Ohio State will have 44 players on its roster designated as either a redshirt freshman (21 of the 25 players signed in February 2015), or a true freshman. For a roster that can have only 85 scholarship players, Ohio State will have around 52% of its roster with no playing time experience. As former Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper used to say, “If a dog is going to bite you, it will bite you as a pup.”.

For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 16th, 2016. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.

6th – Cornerback

Player Lost – Eli Apple. Apple declared for the 2016 NFL Draft, giving up two years of eligibility. While Apple did not have as strong a season in 2015 as he did in 2014, Apple was well-regarded by the Ohio State coaching staff.

Returning Players/Incoming Players – Gareon Conley (Redshirt Junior), Damon Webb (Junior), Marshon Lattimore (Redshirt Sophomore), Denzel Ward (Sophomore), Eric Glover-Williams (Sophomore), Damon Arnette (Redshirt Freshman), Joshua Norwood (Redshirt Freshman).

A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…

· Gareon Conley is a returning starter at one cornerback. Conley demonstrated throughout the course of the 2015 season that he was quite capable at handling the position – in 2014, at Michigan State, Conley struggled, requiring Apple to come off the bench and play, despite Apple battling an injury at the time. In many respects, Conley had a better 2015 season than Apple.

· The other cornerback position seems to be suiting up to be a battle between Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward, and Eric Glover-Williams. Webb was suspended for part of 2015, but played in nickel coverage when the suspension was lifted. It is possible Webb could also get a look at one of the vacant safety spots. Lattimore has battled injuries in both 2014 and 2015 – will Lattimore’s hamstring injuries allow him to remain in the mix as a possible starter? Denzel Ward and Eric Glover-Williams both played as true freshmen in 2015, primarily on special teams. Ward has been mentioned by Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer as a possible starter at the vacant cornerback spot.

· Neither Damon Arnette nor Joshua Norwood have played so far as Buckeyes. Both players redshirted in 2015. Both Arnette and Norwood will want to use the spring practices to their advantage, as…

· Reinforcements are on the way, but will not arrive until the summer. Ohio State signed five defensive backs in the 2016 recruiting class (Rodjay Burns, Wayne Davis, Kareem Felder, Jordan Fuller, Jahsen Wint). Of these five, only Wint has been listed as a safety. It is entirely possible one of these players could get a look at the cornerback position, depending upon how the spring practices shake out.

These questions, among others, have been on my mind, as Ohio State spring practice began on March 8th.

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