Battle at Strong Safety Still Up in the Air for Buckeyes

Jordan Fuller Erick Smith Ohio State

Ohio State defensive coordinator and safeties coach Greg Schiano met with the media Wednesday evening to provide an update on his side of the football. When it comes to the one open job on the Buckeye defense, however, there was nothing new to report.

Senior Erick Smith and sophomore Jordan Fuller have been competing at strong safety pretty much since Malik Hooker declared for the NFL draft. They began fall camp taking turns with the ones and that’s exactly where things stand today as well. No decision has been made yet on who has won the position.

“Not yet,” Schiano said. “No, they’re both doing very, very well. Making the decision very difficult. So we’ll see. Who knows?”

Schiano has said since the spring that this is a position that could rotate if the talent is there. That decision will also have to be made, and the OSU coaching staff won’t take too much longer making that decision because the Buckeyes take the field in a week.

“We have some decisions to make,” Schiano said. “I don’t know the answer to that yet. We’re going to sit down and talk after tomorrow and kind of formulate a plan.”

At the outset of fall practice, Schiano said that they would be evaluating every single thing that the two safeties did. In the class room, the meeting room, on the field, off the field, and then whoever steps out on the field first would be the guy that gives them the best chance to win. The good news for the Buckeyes is that Schiano believes both players can get the job done.

“I am confident of that,” he said.

What gives him that confidence?

“Working with them,” he said. “All the practicing and being in the meeting room with them and those things.”

At 6-foot-2 and 207 pounds, Fuller more physically resembles Malik Hooker, but it is Smith who has more experience finding the football. They both have their unique traits, which isn’t making the decision any easier.

“Yeah, there’s some differences,” Schiano said. “Jordan’s a little taller, rangier guy. Erick’s probably a little quicker guy. They’re really both good football players though and we’re really fortunate to have them both.”

One Response

  1. These 2 guys are interchangeable and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the starter be an opponent to opponent decision. Eric Smith is a Jack Tatum level assassin. When he guns for an opposition player, that player better be prepared to get thumped with emphasis. He’s good in coverage, but, he’s better against the run. Jordan Fuller isn’t shy about unloading on opponents either, but, his greatest strength is range and passing game disruption. Two very unique guys who will lend themselves to solidifying the Buckeye secondary into one of, if not the best secondary in college football.

    Schiano and Coombs have done a masterful job at recruiting and teaching.

    There’s no reason whatsoever why the 2017 Buckeye defense shouldn’t be an all timer level defense. There’s as much talent on that side of the ball, with experience as there was from 1968 – 1975. By seasons end the NFL will be licking its chops at the available players the Buckeye roster will have for their choosing.

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