While schools like LSU squabble over the title of “Defensive back university,” the Ohio State defensive backs call themselves the best in America.
Representatives of BIA, as they call it, are on teams all over the NFL. Malcolm Jenkins, Marshon Lattimore, and Denzel Ward are just a few of the many defensive backs that populate professional rosters. Since 2014, Ohio State has had six defensive backs drafted in the first round alone.
The Buckeyes will have to replace Jeffrey Okudah, Damon Arnette, and Jordan Fuller this season. Okudah and Arnette will likely go in the first two rounds of the NFL draft, so their replacements will have big shoes to fill.
This is nothing new for the Buckeyes, who routinely replace former first round picks with future first round picks. With defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs back from his NFL stint, the Ohio State secondary aims to pick up right where they left off.
Ohio State Defensive Backs Position Breakdown
The only thing we can know for certain is that Shaun Wade will be a starting cornerback. He played in the slot last year, and did really well there.
As the most experienced defensive back in the room now, Wade will take over duties on the boundary.
Predicting who starts opposite from Wade is tricky. The two front-runners right now are Cameron Brown and Sevyn Banks. Both four star recruits and special teams standouts, they will compete against each other for the starting job. It’s also entirely possible that they rotate in and out or that one plays in the slot and one plays on the boundary. With spring practices cut short this year, it’s hard to say for sure.
Williamson, a senior, is the favorite to start in the slot after spending most of his career on special teams. He is also a former teammate of Wade’s at IMG Academy and fellow Jacksonville native.
Johnson and Cavazos were both recruited as safeties, and were at the top of their classes. Johnson was the top safety in the 2018 recruiting class according to Rivals. While Cavazos might have to start out on special teams, his athleticism is certainly intriguing.
Over the last few seasons, Ohio State ran with one-safety sets. If they needed another body in the defensive backfield, they would move a linebacker or slot corner to the “strong safety” position.
Proctor is a pretty clear choice to replace Fuller this year. If the Buckeyes want a second true safety on the field, they will probably send out Marcus Hooker. The younger brother of former Buckeye Malik Hooker and will likely spend most of his time backing up Proctor.
Incoming freshman Lathan Ransom is another prospect to keep an eye on. He might not make much of an impact on defense this year, but he will be exciting to watch in the future.