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.
1st – Safety
Players Lost – Tyvis Powell, Vonn Bell. Both players had eligibility remaining, and both decided to forego a final year as Buckeyes to enter the 2016 NFL Draft. Say what you want about either player, but Powell and Bell were steady veteran players at the last line of defense.
Returning Players/Incoming Players – Malik Hooker (Redshirt Sophomore), Damon Webb (Junior), Erick Smith (Junior), Cam Burrows (Redshirt Junior), Eric Glover-Williams (Sophomore).
A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…
· Damon Webb has been moved to safety this spring, after primarily playing as the nickel cornerback. This may be a move to get the talented Webb on the field by new secondary coach Greg Schiano.
· Webb’s move may also be a concession to the fact that both Erick Smith and Cam Burrows, both with playing experience, are still recovering from injuries that derailed their respective 2015 seasons.
· The same could be said for Eric Glover-Williams, who has seen time at safety this spring. Glover-Williams is listed at 5’9″, 175 lbs., which may be better suited for cornerback.
· If there is anyone who seems to be a lock to start at safety in 2016, it is redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker. Hooker has never started, but played more and more in spot duty in 2015.
· Reinforcements are on the way, but will not arrive until the summer. Players such as Jahsen Wint, Rodjay Burns, and Jordan Fuller may all get long looks at safety during fall camp. The point I am making is all of these players are true freshmen, and untested on the college level.
These questions, among others, have been on my mind, as Ohio State concludes spring practice with the Ohio State Spring Game on April 16th. Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer hopes to have at least 100,000 fans in Ohio Stadium. Let’s not disappoint him, Buckeye fans.
They're back! Saturday, The 'Shoe, 1:30PM ET #SpringGame@markpantoni @CoachZachSmith #GoBucks #SammySilvDesigns pic.twitter.com/qWQyUOvZ5A— Samuel Silverman (@SammySilv) April 12, 2016