Cornerback Damon Arnette played in every game last season for the Buckeyes, starting a dozen times. As a redshirt sophomore, he finished sixth on the team with 44 tackles. He led the Ohio State cornerbacks with two interceptions, three tackles for loss, and a forced fumble.
And yet you won’t hear anybody claiming that he is a finished product.
There is no such thing, after all.
He does have what many other cornerbacks do not, however.
“I’ll tell you what, the one thing Damon Arnette has is game experience,” OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said this spring. “He has game experience and you can’t take that away and he is a feisty competitor.
“A lot of the times out here I have to calm him down to make sure he doesn’t punch himself out, which you appreciate that because he cares so much. But he’s a guy we’re counting on, big time. And not just because he has game experience, but because he has talent and all of those other attributes that we need in order for him to have a really, really good season.”
No cornerback is perfect. They all give up catches to receivers. It’s part of the game. That’s why the old football adage says that cornerbacks have to have a short memory. They can’t lose time thinking about the catch they just gave up because they need to be ready for the next snap.
Johnson, however, wants to take it one step further. Especially with a guy like Arnette, who is known to get a little vocal out on the field.
“Yeah, that’s that part that we’ve been calming down because I actually started thinking about this more and more,” he said. “At our position, it’s not a short memory, you can’t have a memory at all. When something happens, you gotta forget about it immediately because it won’t matter the next play if they throw it over our heads.”
As the Buckeyes’ new cornerbacks coach, Johnson has gone through every snap his players have taken. He hasn’t even been in Columbus for six months, but he now knows what his players can and can’t do. His job is to eliminate their limitations and build on their possibilities.
Following spring football, seeing Damon Arnette first hand, Johnson saw those possibilities.
Physically, Arnette has what the position requires. The only thing holding him back now are details and discipline, which is what they will continue to work on until it becomes second nature.
“I think Damon also had a really, really good spring,” Johnson said. “He is a guy that plays with tremendous feet and hips. He plays strong for sure and now it is just a matter of making sure he is detailed and just disciplined with the little things that can take him over the top and make him even more consistent. Then he will get himself into position to make even more plays.
“That is what we need. He has tons of enthusiasm.”