Today’s Topic: What Does Damon Arnette’s Return Mean for 2019?
Fourth-year junior cornerback Damon Arnette announced via social media on Friday that he is returning for his fifth-and-final season at Ohio State.
At this point, it looks like cornerback Kendall Sheffield is the last remaining Buckeye who has yet to make a decision. As of a day or two ago, sources had Sheffield leaning towards entering the 2019 NFL Draft.
With Arnette back — and Sheffield expected to leave — the Buckeye cornerbacks didn’t take as big of a hit as they could have. Had they lost both cornerbacks, they would be returning just two cornerbacks with experience. That is not an ideal situation for a defense that tries to rotate three throughout the game.
Now with Arnette’s return, Ohio State knows they will have at least three cornerbacks that they can rely upon. Rising junior Jeff Okudah will be back for his second season in the rotation, and Shaun Wade proved himself as a redshirt freshman this past season. Wade moved from corner to nickel to safety throughout the year, but is expected to move to corner full time in 2019.
Arnette has been the team’s nickel in the past, and as a boundary cornerback this past season he dealt with physical receivers all year long. He is a veteran defender who should be playing at his best in his fifth season.
Arnette finished fifth in solo tackles this past season (31) and tied for fourth (35) in 2017. He doesn’t shy from run support and plays with the kind of confidence required of the position.
It will be interesting to see what impact a new position coach has on him. There didn’t appear to be much difference in his performances between Kerry Coombs and Taver Johnson, but perhaps there will be a cumulative effect from all of the teachings he has experienced.
There are some Buckeye fans who aren’t overly thrilled that Arnette has returned, but his experience cannot be denied.
If Sheffield does leave for the NFL, there will be just three experienced corners on the team, with young players like Sevyn Banks, Marcus Williamson, Cameron Brown, and Tyreke Johnson all looking for an opportunity.
The thing is, Arnette’s presence doesn’t keep them from getting that opportunity. The three best cornerbacks will play, and there are new coaches making those decisions.
The slates have been cleaned. The opportunities will be renewed.
Having Damon Arnette back for the Buckeyes is a very good thing, and if he is as bad as a few Buckeye fans think, then he won’t be winning a job in the rotation anyway.
So what do you have to lose?