Today’s Topic: Who is the Buckeyes’ Most Important Returnee?
The NFL will release the full list of players who have been allowed to declare early for the 2019 Draft, but we already know which Buckeyes have made the move.
In all, six players — defensive end Nick Bosa, defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones, cornerback Kendall Sheffield, quarterback Dwayne Haskins, running back Mike Weber, and center Michael Jordan — decided to forego their final seasons of eligibility.
Several others, however, decided to come back.
While recording this week’s episode of the Buckeye Weekly podcast, Tom Orr asked which of the NFL spurners was the most important returnee for the Buckeyes in 2019.
There are arguments to be made for each of receiver KJ Hill, linebacker Malik Harrison, cornerback Damon Arnette, or safety Jordan Fuller.
Hill will provide a security blanket for Ohio State’s new starting quarterback. Harrison was the team’s best linebacker this past season, and any time you can return the best player at a position, it’s a very good thing. Arnette keeps the cornerbacks room from getting unnecessarily thin and brings experience that is rare at his position at OSU.
The choice for me, however, is Jordan Fuller.
For most of the 2018 season, the Buckeyes were chasing their tails looking for a safety opposite Fuller. They finally found it in Brendon White, and with both White and Fuller back in 2019, there should be no tailchasing next season.
With Fuller, the Buckeyes will have a captain in the back end and no mysteries will prevail. Even though there will be new coaches, Fuller’s presence will be a steadying influence for everyone involved.
Had he chosen to leave, the flux that OSU was in last year would reappear again. Would the Buckeyes turn to Shaun Wade, thereby making the cornerbacks thinner than they need to be? Or would Isaiah Pryor find his footing? Or Amir Riep? Could rising sophomore Josh Proctor fulfill his immense promise?
The answer to all of these questions is “maybe?”
Fuller returning, however, makes both safety and cornerback deeper.
The return of KJ Hill is great for Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin, but the Buckeyes had Demario McCall, CJ Saunders, and Jaelen Gill waiting in the wings.
Harrison is a boost for sure, but Baron Browning, K’Vaughan Pope, Keandre Jones, Justin Hilliard, Teradja Mitchell, etc, etc, etc, are all looking for some snaps.
As much as some Buckeye fans may hate to admit it, the number two choice in this exercise may actually be Damon Arnette.
But that’s a topic for another morning.