The No. 4 player on this list is a two-time Academic All-American returning captain for the Buckeyes who is headed into his third year as a starter and led the team with 81 tackles last season.
No. 4 — Jordan Fuller, Senior Safety
Jordan Fuller was one of Ohio State’s best recruiting wins in the 2016 class.
He arrived as a corner, but was almost immediately put at safety where the need was greater. As a true freshman, he played in nearly every game and was in the two-deep at free (slot) safety behind senior Damon Webb.
As a sophomore in 2017, Fuller won the strong (deep) safety job, replacing All-American Malik Hooker.
Fuller was asked to do the impossible in replacing Hooker and while nobody expected him to replicate that kind of production, he still finished second on the team with 70 tackles (despite what the stats say below) and two interceptions. He was named Third-Team All-Big Ten.
While the production wasn’t identical, Fuller never had fingers pointing at him for letting the position regress.
Last year, Fuller moved to free (slot) safety and tied for the team lead with 81 tackles. His interceptions dropped to one, but he was again very solid for the Buckeyes, earning Second-Team All-Big Ten recognition.
There is a new defense in town at Ohio State and Fuller was out all spring with an injury, so it isn’t exactly known where he will be lining up once fall camp gets under way in a little under three weeks.
What He Does Well
Jordan Fuller is arguably the best tackler on the Ohio State defense. He rarely misses, even against the most talented of tackle evaders.
I said when it happened that this may have been a game-saver. Jordan Fuller is a very good tackler. pic.twitter.com/05p51BG2OX
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) October 29, 2017
A two-time Academic All-American who can move from position to position freely, Fuller is obviously an intelligent player who can handle a heavy workload. Last year, there was so much talk about the Ohio State defense being too complicated, but that talk never surrounded Fuller.
Fuller wasn’t able to showcase his centerfielder skills as the slot safety last season because he was almost immediately put into man-coverage situations against slot receivers. When he is close to the line, he is also able to make plays in the backfield. He diagnoses quickly and can end plays before they get started.
Jordan Fuller In 2019
Fuller was a Third-Team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore and a Second-Team selection as a junior, so the progression now would be for him to be a First-Team honoree this season.
Playing a different position from one year to the next has become the norm for Fuller, and that may continue this season as well.
Secondary coach Jeff Hafley wants the entire secondary to learn the defense as a group, that way he can plug and play with several different versions of personnel on the field.
This year, the defense will fluctuate from one deep safety to two, depending on the down and distance. Where Jordan Fuller ultimately ends up may depend upon the skill set of the second-best safety on the roster.
And wherever that spot ends up being, defensive plays should follow.
What They Are Saying
“He is running forward a little bit, he is able to do some stuff at half-speed, but he looks good doing it. Great kid. You guys probably know him better than I do right now. But from meeting with him, what a super human being who does so much more than just play football.” — Jeff Hafley on Jordan Fuller’s health in June.
“Definitely took some thought, but after I talked to my family, some of the coaches and stuff… It’s too good of an opportunity for me to come back and yeah, I just couldn’t pass it up.” — Jordan Fuller on his decision to return for his senior season.
“Well I won’t go into too much detail. There’s some tweaks and really just putting guys in sports for them to succeed. That’s what I take away the most. They’re just great, knowledgeable guys and they all know what they’re talking about and yeah, it’s a great vibe right now.” — Jordan Fuller on what Jeff Hafley and Matt Barnes have helped him with.