Morning Constitutional: Who is the Buckeyes’ Most Important Returnee?

Ohio State wide receiver KJ Hill touchdown Penn State

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.

9 Responses

  1. It can’t be over-emphasized how Arnette’s stability through experience really lifts the DB room a notch.

  2. K.J. Hill would be my choice. Just based on the plays I saw him make last season, he’s the one really dependable guy downfield.

    Hilliard may be by the end of the season. He progressed steadily since the Purdue game, the game where the over aggressive bad angles came home to roost. The line backers and safeties had to make some choices, big hits on the slow guys had to be traded for safe angles on the faster guys. Hilliard saw the light, his angles and ability to stay in his gap after Purdue were much better. I’m looking forward to him having a really big year. (No I’m not Ed Sullivan.) But as things stand right now, I’m going with Hill in the one spot.

  3. Since this is an offensive driven team, and day is an offensive coach, the mv returner is kj hill. They would function well without him but he is a security blanket of immense importance, with a new line and qb. With him they only have two proven receivers, of which he is by far number one.

  4. Let’s not forget Olave coming back to help Fields or Baldwin, he might have the highest ceiling of them all. Let’s also not forget that OSU has White in the DB that to me, was one of the big reasons for the turn around following the West Lafayette disaster and another reason why WA did not pull off the miracle Rose Bowl comeback. But tend to agree, believe that not 1 of OSU DBs were named to any of the B1G 3 team selection by the coaches…ouch.

  5. If we assume that coaching is the key factor for the Silver Bullets return, then we have to assume that we upgraded the linebacking and cornerbacks coaches (which I believe we did). Now, if we also assume that all of the starters on D are potentially All B1G talent (which I do) – then for me the choice is Arnette. I think just a tweak in coaching will make that difference for him and he will be an All B1G player with the experience he has. In my opinion, barring injury, he will go from what i think would be a 5-6 rounder this draft to a 2-3 rounder next year. His return solidifies a thin cornerback position – either way 6 1 half dozen other.

  6. Actually, I would say Coach Larry Johnson is the most important returnee, but I know you were talking about players.

  7. I agree with the choice of Fuller, with Hill right behind….and Sheffield isn’t ready for NFL but his decision of course…

    1. Agree with Todd, though the most important returnee that didn’t spurn the NFL because they weren’t eligible yet is Matthew Baldwin. No guarantee Fields a) is granted a waiver or b) understands jack about the Buckeye offense in only a few months.

  8. We will find out the answer by about, oh, late September.

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