Football

‘Sky is the Limit’ for Kendall Sheffield

Kendall Sheffield Ohio State Football Buckeyes

When he signed with Alabama in 2015, Buckeye cornerback Kendall Sheffield was ranked the No. 4 cornerback in the nation and the No. 20 player in the class overall. He had offers from every blueblood program in the nation, and for good reason.

As a true freshman, however, he was not ready to play. And as a redshirt freshman, he decided he’d rather spend his time at junior college.

Last season was his first with Ohio State. He started three games, but was part of a three-man rotation that saw equal reps split between him, Denzel Ward, and Damon Arnette.

Now with Ward off to the NFL, the Buckeyes need the returning cornerbacks to step up. In Urban Meyer’s program, last year is never good enough, and that is certainly true for Sheffield. An opening week matchup against Indiana in 2017 opened Sheffield’s eyes, which also happens to be an area of improvement for him this spring.

“He’s done a really nice job of just really concentrating on his eyes, because playing his position, for sure what you look at is everything and when you’re supposed to look at it,” said cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson. “He’s done a really, really good job and probably one of the best jobs in the room at making sure he does that. Whether it’s keeping my eyes to the hip, the receiver’s hands, whatever that may be, and it’s getting him in position even better, in terms of making plays.”

Last season was the third team for Sheffield in three seasons, but this spring he was able to show a growing comfort in his surroundings. Johnson senses it as well.

“I do, and that’s what happens when you’re around,” he said. “Especially in this place for a year and playing and things like that. I think he’s gotten settled in, he understands the expectations and that’s everything. For sure. That’s what all the young guys and the guys coming in have to understand.”

Sheffield still has yet to speak with the OSU football media. His coaches say he’s just shy, but it would also help to explain a player who was still trying to find his footing as a Buckeye last year.

It would seem that those days are over, however, because Sheffield has now participated in two varsity sports at Ohio State, so he must be feeling pretty good about things. More than that, though, is the fact that Urban Meyer and his defensive coaching staff felt good enough about where Sheffield is right now to allow him to run track.

If they still had questions about him as a corner, it would have been difficult to allow him to participate in another sport. In that same vein, if Sheffield wasn’t extremely comfortable as a corner, then he wouldn’t have had the confidence to go and do something else for a bit.

Even though Taver Johnson wasn’t at OSU when Sheffield decided to run track, he saw no issues with it.

“No, not at all because from what I understand it was right towards the end of winter workouts and everything like that,” he said. “All of the football stuff we were doing, he was still involved. All of the lifting and all that stuff. It didn’t take away at all. If anything, you like that because he’s competing. Anytime you compete that helps you out.”

Sheffield would go on to break the Ohio State 60M record with a time of 6.63 seconds.

“Yeah, I mean I heard he was fast and then I actually went and watched him,” Johnson said. “A bunch of us went when the track meet was here, and I thought someone was chasing him with a knife or something. He looked scary running.”

Physically, Kendall Sheffield has everything a coach could want in a cornerback. He has the size (6-0 193), speed, and the agility as well.

More than anything else, however, is his desire to get better every day. That will always be what separates the good from the great, and Sheffield doesn’t want to settle for good.

“He is a physical guy and a physical specimen,” Johnson said. “Seeing him play physical a little bit more is what we talk about. He wants to. Most of that comes when you are trying to do it exact, you are thinking too much, now hopefully those instincts can take over now that he understands.

“I think the sky is the limit for Kendall. He and I talked about that a couple of days ago. The one thing that he made a lot of strides at was really, really trying to be very detailed in exactly what we were asking him to do. I think he did the best job of that in terms of eye-placement, anything with the techniques and it showed up. It really did show up for him this spring and he made some great strides for sure.”

7 Responses

  1. It’s called growth. He either will grow or he will not. I am sure he will. Taver is a good football coach and I think he will get the most out of him. I remember so many players struggling their first year and blossom during the second year – Conley comes to mind for certain.

  2. I went back and watched the Cotton Bowl against USC yesterday and I think this kid could be a 1st team All American. When I watched him earlier in the year, I was wondering if he could even play at this level. If you have that game go back and watch it. Another thing I saw was that Hill has a tough time judging punts.

  3. This kid’s athleticism is off the chart and has likely garnered him all of his accolades even going back to his “5 star” ranking. However, there are rare instances where athleticism doesn’t translate to being a great football player…that seemed to be the case last year. I hope he surprises the hell out of me. But he was buried at Bama and stood no shot at sniffing the field there until year 3 at least…Bama has no better legacy at DB than us so the idea that he was just a guy there and can show up here and be a star seems a bit off to me. This is even more so validated when you look how bad he played last year. Plus, Nick Saban just aint in the business of letting NFL talent walk.

    Very cautiously optimistic.

    1. Not playing as a freshman isn’t the worst thing tho. Just ask Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, and Shawn Springs. Tony Brown played as a true freshman for Bama as a 5-star kid. He ended up as an undrafted free agent. There’s also no shame in not starting until year three, if that would have happened. Worked for Conley and Lattimore. I’m interested to see if he puts everything together this year and how he adapts to his fourth position coach in four years, which we probably haven’t talked about enough.

      1. Who said he would have started in year 3 at Bama? Sniffing the field for the first time in year 3 is a far cry from starting. All that said, yes let’s hope he is Shawn Springs now. Oook.

        1. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt because he definitely would have been playing last year for Alabama. Tony Brown played and went undrafted.

  4. There is no doubt this kid has ability for days. His athleticism is off the chart for his size. And if that wasn’t enough, he plays very physical. Often times opposing offenses will try to run the ball where they have the corner making the tackle. I have no worries about this guy trying to shy away from contact. He is big, athletic, and physical. The issue is technique. He is way too handsy in coverage. His technique was horrible. He is a PI waiting to happen every time. Now good news is that is something they can teach. My only concern is can he learn it in time for next year.

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