Damon Arnette’s progression from last year to now has been dramatic, but it isn’t new.
As a redshirt freshman a year ago, Arnette was the Buckeyes’ No. 1 nickel back, at least for a while. A couple of bad games in the middle of the season cost him his job and saw his snaps greatly reduced. That’s something that’s has happened to players many, many times over the years.
Remember Gareon Conley against Michigan State in 2014 as a redshirt freshman? Remember Marshon Lattimore struggling at nickel at times in 2015 as a redshirt freshman? Both players had some very low lows, but later this month at the NFL Draft, they will also experience some very high highs.
Neither Conley or Lattimore accepted their struggles, and instead they set out to overcome them, which they clearly did. Damon Arnette is following that same path.
“Damon played a lot of snaps at the nickel and had two tough games,” cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. “He gave up two catches two weeks in a row. That’s below the standard here, and so we had to make a change. He understood that. He didn’t like it, he shouldn’t have liked it. He handled it and he came back swinging. He never complained, he never put his head down, and he’s had a great offseason and a great spring.”
The Buckeyes came into the spring with one starting cornerback in Denzel Ward, but it is looking more and more like they will leave the spring with two, as Arnette has excelled throughout camp. The results may speak for themselves, but Urban Meyer has also offered his own two cents recently, declaring that Arnette has had an excellent spring.
The accolades have not just been limited to coaches. Junior linebacker Jerome Baker was asked recently for a name that people are sleeping on and he didn’t hesitate with an answer.
“Damon Arnette,” he said. “That’s the one guy that I feel like this year he’s really going to show that he can definitely play. You can just see him making plays. Any time a pass is thrown his way it’s most likely going to be intercepted or incomplete. He’s definitely showing what he can do.”
Even watching very limited portions of spring practice, Arnette’s play and confidence are immediately noticeable.That process didn’t just start this spring, however, and won’t end this spring either, but he is certainly headed in the proper direction, just as Conley and Lattimore were before him.
“There’s no question,” Coombs said. “He’s had a great spring. He’s had a great offseason. He’s maturing as a man, which is very important to us. He has a ridiculous skill set and when we harness all of his energy in the right direction he is going to be a dynamic football player. I’m very excited about his progression so far.”