There is good and bad when you take over for somebody as successful as former Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs.
The good is that you are going to walk into a talented room full of players who have been taught by the best, and vetted by them too. The bad, however, is that you now have a whole lot to live up to.
Coombs has sent Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, and Marshon Lattimore to the First Round of the NFL Draft, and next month he will have done the same for Denzel Ward.
But the cupboard hasn’t been left bare for Taver Johnson.
Far from it, in fact.
“Very, very talented guys. Very smart individuals, that’s what I’m learning about those guys,” Johnson said of his cornerbacks. “You can tell they’re veterans. They’re very serious about what they do. They come to work. They come and have fun. They don’t treat it like a job, but they understand when it’s time for us to get to work. They help the younger guys do that as well.”
One of the younger guys is also doing the helping. Sophomore Jeff Okudah is a little banged up right now — Johnson wouldn’t go into specifics — but he is running around and doing some things. He’s also helping out as a leader.
“Jeff Okudah is not doing a ton right now, but he’s getting the young guys and explaining to them and coaching them up while I’m on the other side,” Johnson said.
Okudah’s example is not a surprise. He is simply doing what he has seen everyone in front of him do in the past. Just as veterans helped him when he was starting out, he is helping others get their feet under them as well.
The Buckeyes needed Okudah last year, and they will need players behind him this year. That’s why fourth-year juniors Kendall Sheffield and Damon Arnette are leading the unit and readying each of the cornerbacks to be prepared if their names are called.
The on-field practices won’t begin until Tuesday March 6, so there are no footballs involved in the work being done now, but that doesn’t stop the work. And it’s not just the young cornerbacks who are being put to the test, either. It’s everyone, vets as well. Nobody is above the law in the Ohio State cornerback room, and that’s another reason Taver Johnson has such high expectations for what they will do in 2018.
“It’s an embodiment of all of those guys embracing each other and holding each other accountable,” he said. “That’s something that goes beyond coaching, when the players start holding each other accountable and not just getting on each other but helping each other out and giving the reasons why.”