Breaking Down the Corners

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Last updated: 08/02/2012 2:03 AM

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Breaking Down Urban’s Depth Chart: Cornerback

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer made a splash hire this off-season when he pulled Kerry Coombs away from Cincinnati to coach the cornerbacks at Ohio State.

It’s not that Coombs was a well-known commodity outside the state of Ohio, but he certainly brings a lot of personality to the coaching staff in Columbus.

With fall camp rapidly closing in, we move ahead in our breakdown of Urban’s Depth Chart with a look at the Cornerback position for the 2012 Buckeyes.

Pre-spring pecking order: Bradley Roby and Travis Howard returning with Doran Grant as the No. 3 corner.

Bradley Roby
Photo by Jim Davidson
Bradley Roby

With the off-season exit of Dominic Clarke, a young player who started three games last season, the Buckeyes were scary thin at the corner position heading into spring camp. Clarke had been pegged as the No. 3 corner behind Bradley Roby and Travis Howard, with the possibility he would challenge Howard for the starting spot in the spring.

Instead, Urban Meyer dismissed Clarke from the team in January following an arrest for drunk driving. That the Buckeyes with two experienced corners in Roby and Howard, but also opened the door for Grant, a second-year guy out of St. Vincent-St. Mary who has some of the fastest wheels on the team. 

Post-spring depth chart: Roby on one side with Howard and Grant battling on the other side.

Travis Howard
Photo by Jim Davidson
Travis Howard

Meyer hired former UC secondary coach Kerry Coombs to mentor his corners this offseason, and Coombs immediately fell in love with Roby. The speedy corner out of Georgia started all 13 games for the Buckeyes a year ago.

He tied for the team-lead with three picks and Coombs believes Roby can be a first round pick in the NFL Draft someday. The same might be true of Grant, who came on strong in the spring. Coombs said he considered Grant good enough to start right now, and that was represented in the post-spring depth chart.

The second-year corner was listed as a co-starter with Howard, a fifth-year senior out of Miami. Behind the top three, Ohio State was rotating redshirt sophomore Adam Griffin and freshman Tyvis Powell with the second group in the spring.

Who is missing?: The Buckeyes added another player to this group in the spring when Tyvis Powell enrolled early, but still don’t know whether Powell is more of a corner or a safety. He has the quickness to play corner, but his body suggests he will end up on the back end of the defense at some point.

That could be sooner rather than later now that Ohio State has added two more potential corners to the mix in Armani Reeves and Najee Murray. A 4-star prospect out of Massachusetts, Reeves is a natural corner who oozes athleticism. Much like Grant last year, Reeves could be in a position to push for some early playing time at Ohio State, especially with only three veteran corners returning from last season.

Murray is more of a safety in a corner’s body. He was a hard-hitter at Steubenville and that’s really his game. At 5-9, 180, he is very similar to a guy like Christian Bryant in the way he likes to play, but we still don’t know whether the move to deep safety was the right one for Bryant.

With their low numbers at corner, Ohio State will likely give Murray a chance to stick, much like they did with Powell in the spring. He could also play some nickelback at the “Star” position, but that is where they plan to use fellow freshman Devan Bogard.

Susceptible to Change or Set in Stone: Very susceptible at one spot.

Doran Grant
Photo by Jim Davidson
Doran Grant

Barring injury, Roby is going to be a starter and probably the best player in Ohio State’s secondary this fall. The other spot is up for grabs. As a fifth-year senior, Howard has the edge, but it wouldn’t surprising to see them rotate Grant in with the first group during fall camp.

Overall prognosis: This group is strong at the top, but has very little depth.

It’s really those top three guys and then everyone else. Roby, Howard and Grant give Coombs a strong trio of corners to work with, but if one of them goes down with an injury, he may lose some sleep figuring out who the next guy will be.

Griffin had a nice spring and Powell is coming along, but the guy to watch out for this fall is Armani Reeves. He looks like a kid who could work his way into that second group pretty quickly.

Urban's take: “I have watched (Coombs) coach in high school and at the University of Cincinnati and I have great respect for the way he works. He is a strong recruiter. He knows defense and special teams. And he is an excellent teacher.”

Related Articles:

Depth Chart Breakdown: QB

Depth Chart Breakdown: RB

Depth Chart Breakdown: FB

Depth Chart Breakdown: WR

Depth Chart Breakdown: TE

Depth Chart Breakdown: OT

Depth Chart Breakdown: OL

Depth Chart Breakdown: MLB

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