COLUMBUS – There are dog years. There are light years. And, apparently, there are Buckeye years, too.
Talking about what he has learned since he got to Ohio State, sophomore cornerback Jeffrey Okudah said, “At Ohio State I feel like you mature really quickly. Even though you’ve been here for one year you feel like you’ve been here for two years.
“I can’t even imagine how guys who have been here for five years feel. I’ve only been here for a year and I feel like I picked up so much wisdom along the way,” the former 5-star recruit from Texas said last Wednesday.
“You start getting confidence (with experience). And when you start getting confidence at Ohio State your level of play shoots through the roof.”
Ohio State has been known for cornerbacks with through-the-roof ability in recent years with first-round NFL draft choices like Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Eli Apple. And last season’s top cornerback, Denzel Ward, is projected as a first-rounder in this year’s draft.
It appears the Buckeyes are well stocked with cornerback talent again in 2018 with Damon Arnette, a starter last season, junior college transfer Kendall Sheffield a former 5-star recruit in his second season at OSU, former 5-star recruit Shaun Wade and Okudah.
Okudah was impressive as a special teams player last season and Wade had to have surgery for a torn abdominal muscle, an injury he battled since preseason practice. Okudah had shoulder surgery after last season and has been limited during spring practice.
If one or both of them are healthy in the fall, Ohio State could end up using a cornerbacks rotation, with possibly three players sharing playing time.
“We’re excited and ready for Jeff to come back,” cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said. “I’m excited watching film of him from last year and the things he did. “He is such a smart young man. He is tough, a guy who has some game experience and he is long and can do a lot of good things.”
Johnson is replacing Kerry Coombs, who left to become an assistant coach with the Tennessee Titans when Mike Vrabel was hired as the Titans’ head coach.
Okudah says there is not that much difference between human energy drink Coombs and Johnson.
“They both bring juice but Coach Coombs is animated. Coach Johnson is not as animated but he still has his moments,” he said. “Really, I don’t think it’s a big drop off or any drop off in energy. Obviously, every coach has some different ways they do things.”
One thing Okudah believes won’t change is OSU using several cornerbacks if the talent is there.
“All the press coverage we play I feel like the rotation of the corners is something that has become part of Ohio State. Even though Coach Coombs is gone, I feel like it has become part of the culture now. If we have enough corners who can play effectively on the field, they’re going to be on the field,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
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