The No. 7 player on this list is entering his second season in the starting cornerback rotation for the Buckeyes and if all goes as planned this fall he will be leaving for the NFL a year early as is the norm now at Ohio State.
No. 7 Damon Arnette, rJr. Cornerback
Kerry Coombs was hoping that Damon Arnette would be able to work his way into the rotation in 2016 with Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore, and Gareon Conley. He didn’t make it, but according to Coombs, he was close. And, as Coombs often said when people questioned Ward’s appearance in the rotation, he’s not going to put somebody in the lineup who is worse than the guy he replaced.
Last season was Arnette’s first in the rotation and he had his ups and downs, but finished strong. He led the OSU cornerbacks with 44 tackles — 35 of which were solos, and tied for the interception lead among corners with two.
Arnette is an aggressive cornerback, which is why he fits Ohio State’s defense. Sometimes, however, he can be a little too aggressive, and his coaches have also tried to dial down how much talking he does.
A more mature player now in his fourth year, the items that he needed to work on in the offseason should be much more smoothed out for the 2018 season.
What He Does Well
Arnette is both a skilled outside defender and inside defender. He was the team’s nickel back last year, which often matched him up against smaller, quicker receivers. The Ohio State pass defense had some rough patches early last season, and Arnette was part of that. Each week, however, he got more comfortable and more disciplined.
He showed against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game that he is a complete defender. Oftentimes, the Badgers would only put one receiver on the field, which then pit Arnette as an edge defender against the run or a tight end. He would have to then detach from bigger and stronger players in order to help out against the run. He has no qualms about run support and doesn’t stop trying to fight loose from the grip that run blockers have on him.
Arnette is now completely comfortable in press coverage and while that style of defense may not lend itself to a bunch of interceptions, Arnette’s versatility in pass coverage should allow him a few more opportunities to make plays this season.
Damon Arnette in 2018
Arnette gets a bad rap from some of the Ohio State fan base that can’t look past the Indiana and Oklahoma games from last year, but everyone in the program will tell you he is a different defender now than he was then. He was even a different defender later in the season. Watch his clips from the Big Ten Championship Game below and that will give you an idea of what to expect from Damon Arnette in 2018.
Arnette graded out a Champion five times last season, including the Michigan State and Wisconsin games. He was actually the Player of the Game against the Spartans. Arnette was an Honorable Mention All-B1G selection last season, but more should be expected this year.
What They Are Saying
“I think Damon also had a really, really good spring. 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. (He and Kendall Sheffield) are very smart, football smart and that will definitely help them. I am excited about them.” — Cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson
“I’ll tell you what, the one thing Damon Arnette has is game experience. 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 for him to have a really really good season.” — Taver Johnson
“He has that flexibility for sure, which is good to play inside and outside and he’s progressing at that spot because that’s something that he was still learning last year. We just have to improve his technique.” — Taver Johnson