COLUMBUS — For Ohio State cornerbacks, the past is a crucial part of the future.
Bradley Roby, an All-America cornerback at Ohio State who became a first-round draft pick and Super Bowl champion, came back to campus Friday to visit OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs and the players trying to live up to the tradition he started.
Since Roby left Ohio State, three other cornerbacks who played for Coombs have been first-round draft picks. Eli Apple went 10th overall to the New York Giants in 2016. This year, Marshon Lattimore was selected by the New Orleans Saints at No. 11 and Gareon Conley went to the Oakland Raiders at No. 24.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) May 19, 2017
Now there are a slew of young, talented cornerbacks vying to become the next great Ohio State ballhawk. Denzel Ward played as much as Lattimore and Conley last season, and Damon Arnette also found his way onto the field.
And then there are the newcomers. The Buckeyes’ Class of 2017 recruiting haul at cornerback is perhaps the best ever — 5-star Jeffrey Okudah, 5-star Shaun Wade, 4-star Marcus Williamson, 4-star Amir Riep and JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield, a former 5-star who originally signed with Alabama in 2015.
During spring practice, Coombs was asked why the Buckeyes have been able to churn out elite cornerbacks at such an impressive rate. He pointed to the obvious answer of good recruiting, but also noted that the best players learn from those who came before them.
“First of all, we recruit great players,” he said. “They understand what the standard is. We don’t recruit 50 kids to go into that room because 50 kids can’t do what they do. There’s a handful across the country that have the ability to do year in and year out what those guys do.
“The second thing is because that is the standard, they watch the guys ahead of them who sit in the front row and they know that is what it takes to be that guy. Right now Williamson, Okudah and Wade are watching Denzel Ward and learning how to do it, just like Denzel Ward learned from Gareon and Marshon, just like they learned. That’s what has taken place. It’s not me, it’s them.”
The video in the above tweet shows Roby meeting with the players trying to follow in his footsteps. Coombs reminded the room that Roby’s career is the standard at Ohio State — All-American and first-round draft pick. Roby broke down some film and told them that the best cornerbacks pay attention to details. The Buckeyes recently had two players transfer, but Roby told the players in the room that staying the course and listening to Coombs will pay off.
“There’s enough to go around for everyone to make it,” Roby said. “Everyone in my [cornerbacks] room went first round, really.”
Visits from former players like Roby help make sure others do the same.