Land of 10/file photo
Damon Arnette will be part of one of the nation's best secondaries in 2018.

Ohio State football: How will Buckeyes manage overflow at cornerback?

Austin Ward

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

The hardest part of Taver Johnson’s new job might be fighting to keep former elite cornerback recruits at that position. Don’t confuse that with a lack of depth at safety, although Ohio State isn’t nearly as loaded at that spot as it is with cover guys. But with Jordan Fuller returning, Isaiah Pryor poised to take on a larger role, Jahsen Wint in the mix and Josh Proctor on the way this summer, the back end is going to continue to be in great shape this season and moving forward.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean Ohio State won’t consider a move for one of its talented cornerbacks this spring or in training camp if guys such as Shaun Wade or Tyreke Johnson can absolutely can help the secondary. As for that top trio of Kendall Sheffield, Damon Arnette and Jeffrey Okudah? Don’t expect to see them going anywhere as Ohio State gets back to more of the three-man rotation that was so productive two seasons ago.

Jeffrey Okudah-Ohio State-Buckeyes-cornerbacks-depth chart
Jeffrey Okudah is expected to jump into the rotation for Ohio State at cornerback as a sophomore. (Land of 10/file photo)

It flew somewhat under the radar at times just how much Denzel Ward was playing alongside Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore in 2016, since both veterans were making the highlights seemingly every week and generating buzz as first-round draft picks. But the snap counts between those three wound up being almost perfectly balanced, keeping them fresh, healthy and productive over the course of a long season. There aren’t many programs that can deploy a cornerbacks rotation quite like the Buckeyes can without experiencing a drop-off, and it’s possible they could do it this season with more than just the three mentioned above. Ohio State enjoys plenty of flexibility with its matchups when it goes to expanded personnel packages in the secondary, because it doesn’t necessarily have to designate one player as the nickel back or limit them to covering in the slot.

The value of what the Buckeyes have in the pipeline at this crucial position can’t be overstated. Considering how much passing attacks have expanded even in the Big Ten, Ohio State’s emphasis on recruiting elite cornerbacks and a remarkable knack for landing them is among the biggest success stories of Urban Meyer’s tenure with the program.

It also means there will be times when there may be more skilled cornerbacks than can play at one time, which does open up the door for possible shifts to safety. But when it comes to Arnette, Sheffield and Okudah, don’t anticipate a move — instead plan on watching one of the best triple threats in the country.

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