COLUMBUS, Ohio — Every position battle has a winner and a loser, but Ohio State might be rethinking how it approaches one position.
When head coach Urban Meyer gave an update on the depth chart Monday, most of the 22 spots on the field had either already been settled or had clear leaders. That was not the case at the No. 2 cornerback spot, however, where a trio of players are competing to win the job opposite returning starter Gareon Conley.
Damon Arnette, Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward have all had good camps, with none of the players thus far able to separate themselves as a clear frontrunner.
“I think that Denzel and Marshon have had absolutely fantastic camps and you’re not going to be able to keep them off the field, so we’re going to figure out a way to make that work,” cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. “Damon Arnette has also played extremely well, so we’ve got a very, very good and talented group there.”
The situation has reached the point where Coombs is considering trying a completely different approach in which the cornerbacks rotate to ensure that the freshest players are out there at all times.
“We’ve had open conversations about it,” Coombs said. “We can’t have selfish guys. The reality is that those guys are good enough that when fresh, any one of them is better than the other guys when tired, and they all realize that. Nobody wants to give up a completion. They’re very competitive. Nobody wants to give up a score. They’re fine, if they’re not fresh, with somebody running on the field and playing. We’re not playing anybody because we feel sorry for them or because we’re trying to share reps. We’re not doing that. We’re playing to have fast, fresh corners every rep of every game and we’re doing it because we can.”
Such strategies are more often discussed than actually implemented, but Coombs reiterated throughout the conversation that it’s a legitimate option. It would be a departure from previous years, all of which have seen two clear-cut cornerbacks handle a majority of the workload.
And if that shift in thinking does come to fruition? It sounds like the players are on board.
“I’m definitely open to splitting reps,” Ward said. “We all came here because we want to win.”