Urban Meyer said this week that the Buckeyes are still waiting for a starter to emerge at boundary safety. Currently, that position is being manned by sophomores Isaiah Pryor, Brendon White, and Jahsen Wint.
Given that this position is often that last line of defense deep down the field, there is understandably a high standard to live up to. In 2016, Malik Hooker perfected it, and last season Jordan Fuller manned it more than ably. Now with Fuller moving to the field safety spot to replace Damon Webb, there is an important void that needs to be filled.
How have things gone there this spring?
“Reps are pretty even at this point and that’s by design so that we get a good evaluation,” said safeties coach Alex Grinch. “The reps as they go, it’s not just reps in 11-on-11 period, it’s also reps in 7-on-7, it’s also reps in one-on-ones and everything that we do is filmed and evaluated.
“So the long story about all that is that the reps are very, very even. Now who lines up with the ones and twos right now is not overly concerning. We just want to make sure they are getting enough so we can get them evaluated.”
While Alex Grinch is evaluating his safety candidates, he is also getting a great look at the three Buckeye quarterbacks competing to be the starter.
This spring was his first exposure to Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow, and Tate Martell. What has he seen from that group so far?
“You’ll have to talk to Coach [Ryan] Day specifically on his evaluation, but they certainly can drive the ball down field,” Grinch said. “And we gotta make sure we have tight coverage because they can find windows and can throw guys open, which will be a good thing come fall. Not so fun in the spring.”
Asked specifically about redshirt freshman Tate Martell, and Grinch had a quick answer.
“Oh, that’s a scary guy moving around,” he said. “He punishes you for good coverage and that’s not a real good feeling defensively.”
Passing on Running
The Buckeyes entered spring camp with two proven tailbacks in J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. Redshirt sophomore Antonio Williams has also been a star this spring as well.
Williams has received an increase in reps from past years in part because Dobbins and Weber don’t need as many. Along with Dobbins and Weber, Williams is also expecting an increase in carries this season. That may eventually happen, but it will have to wait because spring football isn’t really the time for running the ball.
“Well, spring is more passing,” Williams said. “That’s what we do in the spring, we pass a lot. So, we kind of think that we’re going to get the ball a lot, that’s the thought right now. But as of right now we’re just trying to get everything settled as a team with the absence of guys like J.T. [Barrett] and Billy [Price] and all those guys. You gotta figure things out and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Don’t worry, the passing work hasn’t been a waste of time. According to Williams, they all needed to improve their pass-catching skills. The results have seen them each getting better at being an outlet for the Buckeye quarterbacks.
“Yeah, we are,” he said. “We all had to get better in that area and we definitely have.”