Roby's Commitment Could be Urban Meyer's Biggest

By Kyle Rowland on January 7, 2013 at 10:00a

A decade ago, an Ohio State defensive back returned for another year of schooling in hopes of winning a national championship. Might history repeat itself with Bradley Roby and the Buckeyes in 2013? 

Leader of the packRoby will lead a defense that loses seven starters.

That's the unfolding storyline now that Roby has announced that he will return to Ohio State for his redshirt junior season. It shores up the secondary, limits the blows to a defense that is already losing seven starters – six seniors and junior defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins, who declared for the NFL Draft in December – and provides the unit with a vocal leader to latch on to.

Roby had a sterling sophomore year in which he led the country in passes defended per game (1.73) and led the Big Ten in total passes defended (19) and passes broken up (17). Mind you, he accomplished that in just 11 games. Roby missed the Alabama-Birmingham game due to a shoulder injury. No matter, he finished the season with 63 tackles, third-most on the team.

For his services, Roby earned first-team All-Big Ten and second-team All-American honors. He also became of interest to NFL general managers, projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick. But, ultimately, Roby felt there were goals still left to accomplish in Columbus.

“It was a tough decision,” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “I looked at a lot of things, and even though I have pretty good stock for this year’s draft, I really think it’s better for me and my team for me to come back for another year. We have some unfinished business, kind of, with the NCAA, which kind of took our (2012) season away from us before we even started.”

In Roby’s mind, Ohio State, not Alabama, should be playing Notre Dame this evening for the national championship. Instead, he can take solace in a 12-0 record, a top-3 final ranking and knowing he played an integral role in all of it.

Now he becomes one of the most seasoned members of the defense. The Ohio State secondary will feature three players who have been in the program four seasons – Roby, Christian Bryant and CJ Barnett. The odds-on favorite to start opposite Roby, replacing Travis Howard, is rising junior Doran Grant.

“I haven’t finished what I came to Ohio State to do, which was to become one of the best corners to come out of Ohio State,” Roby said. “I don’t think I’ve accomplished that yet. I know the NFL is there, the money’s there, but you always have another opportunity for that. I just talked this over with my family and feel like this is the best thing for me to do.”

His position coach certainly agrees. Before the season had even ended, Kerry Coombs made his intentions very clear on Roby’s NFL prospects. They were good, but he wasn’t ready to leave.

The 2013 Thorpe Award is callingWelcome to Roby Island.

“I think his best days are ahead of him,” said Coombs, in November. “I think he’s going to be a great player, but I think he needs more time, more seasoning. Even just to look at the progress he’s made, certainly, from March until November, but even from September to November gives you an indication of how good he can be.

“I’m looking forward to coaching him another year.”

The past weekend provided many highs for the Ohio State coaching staff, but keeping Roby in the fold qualifies as arguably the climax. Ending his career with a crystal football would be the peak for Roby.

The Buckeyes finished 12-1 during his first season at Ohio State, but Roby didn’t participate because of a redshirt. In his first season on the field, Ohio State suffered through a 6-7 campaign. Undefeated or not in 2012, the end result wasn’t a national championship.

“A national championship next year would definitely be a good incentive, a good reason to come back,” Roby said. “Who wouldn't want to play for a national championship? That's definitely a good goal for our team, and maybe next year we can get there.”

Could they possibly get there with Roby helping at wide receiver? It might be a long shot, but the Georgia native hasn’t been shy about his wishes. Coming out of high school, Roby was recruited as both a wide receiver and cornerback, and he even committed to Vanderbilt to play offense.

During the 2012 season, on more than one occasion, Roby expressed that he would like to get the opportunity to spend some time on both sides of the ball. It never materialized, though, as Meyer and Coombs weren’t enamored with the idea.

Their reactions to his return were likely a tad different. Roby is a coach’s dream. Not only is he a good football player, but he also is a hard worker. Talent alone doesn’t define him.

“A kid like Bradley, whose film study is extraordinary, hours and hours of film study, he’ll know his opponent,” Coombs said. “He understands the route that’s coming, he’s prepared for the ball when it comes and then you go to finish those plays.

“He’s the guy that wants to make plays, that needs to make plays for our team to be successful.”

That will again be the case in 2013. For the Buckeyes’ coaches, that’s A-OK. In fact, that’s how the coaching staff felt when Mike Doss returned for 2002. All of Ohio and South Florida knows how that worked out.



buckeyeboy31's picture

With our defensive line being more athletic (albeit very green as well) I think our secondary is going to put up some huge numbers.....

yrro's picture

We'll have to see in the Big Ten. It isn't a pass happy league, and a greener but faster d-line and linebackers says to me that we might be easier to run on. If the offense is clicking, though, our opponents are playing from behind... this could get nasty ;-)

AndyVance's picture

Roby's a beast - his continued growth should not only put him in contention to be a first-team All-American next season, and not only to win a National Title in what could be his final campaign, but should also greatly improve his draft stock.
Smart move, Mr. Roby - well played, sir.

BUCKEYE2124's picture


cinserious's picture

Buckeye Nation agrees with you 100% Mr. Roby regarding why you decided to come back.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

Citrus's picture

This D line, although green, seems that it could apply more pressure on QBs than last year's line (I think over pursuit and run support may be an issue). Increased pressure coupled with a talented and seasoned secondary should equal Roby having even more chances to catch a ball and run for a TD (on D).

los_bux08's picture

I wonder if he'll continue to get more reps at kick-off return

toad1204's picture

With a very experienced secondary and a line which saw limited time last year the true weakness of the defense is the LBs.  Hopefully a couple of those touted individuals which signed on in '12 will step up.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

buckeyepastor's picture

The freedom that his return gives to Barnett and Bryant in terms of attacking from the safety position is going to be massively important to our defense next year.   With the experience we're losing up front, not to mention the graduation of Howard in the secondary, the defense was looking like a big question mark even with the athletes we've got stepping up.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Alhan's picture

This was some welcome news :-)
The season is so far away!

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke



“It was a tough decision,” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “I looked at a lot of things, and even though I have pretty good stock for this year’s draft, I really think it’s better for me and my team for me to come back for another year. We have some unfinished business, kind of, with the NCAA, which kind of took our (2012) season away from us before we even started.”

Good! Good! Let the hate flow through you! (Emperor Palpatine voice). You can already tell Coach Meyer is going to use the NCAA sanctions as fuel to get the "angry team" that he wants. By the time September rolls around the Buckeyes are going to be ready to beat some serious tail. Glad to see you coming back Mr. Roby. I double dog dare anyone to throw to your side of the field in 2013.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

CowCat's picture

Upvote for the Palpatine reference.
Use your aggressive feelings, boy ...

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

WezBuck28's picture

I say we give him a shot on offense.. What's it gonna hurt?

Michael Citro's picture

That NC team also featured a two-way player, so...

labuck's picture

Welcome Michael!

themostbrian's picture

Usually a veteran front-7 can cover up the flaws of a green secondary by shutting down the run, getting to the QB and forcing the offense into obvious passing downs.
I hope the reverse can be true for us in 2013 - A veteran secondary covering for a green front-7 by supporting in run coverage, blitzing the QB and making it exceedingly difficult to complete big passes.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

The 1998 defense (2nd nationally in scoring defense) might be a good comparison. 
The '98 defensive backfield was loaded with talent and experience. They started Winfield, A. Plummer, Damon Moore, and Gary Berry, with C. McClellion, D. Mitchell, and Nate Clements rotating in.
The '98 LBs were probably further along than the 2013 projected group, but not much more so: beside Katzenmoyer, the other starters were a young, raw N. Diggs and the workmanlike (but not spectacular) Jerry Rudzinski.
The '98 DL had big question marks, with much of the better talent underclassmen: Rodney Bailey was the rising Sophomore star, but does anyone remember Clinton Wayne, Joe Brown, or Brent Johnson? Also in the mix, but completely untested going into that season, were James Cotton, Ryan Pickett, Kenny Peterson, Courtland Bullard.
The '98 defensive backfield probably made up for deficiencies and /or growing pains in the front 7.

jestertcf's picture

Roby came back to claim his Thorpe award.

~Because we couldn't go for three~

BrewstersMillions's picture

He's got some big shoes to fill, in a sense, given the season he had last year. I hope we as fans can adjust to a probable dip in production. I have to assume opposing offenses will stay clear away from him as much as possible so he may end up with less sexy numbers while playing even better football. If his INT and PD numbers drop, I'd be willing to put that on the fear he can instill in the opposition. Nothing is better than a great pass rush but a true shut down corner is the next best thing. I am really looking forward to seeing how he improves in the technical and mental aspects of the game.

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would be more obvious.

popeurban's picture

I am so excited about this.  IMO, Roby staying is more important than Big Hamnk.  Don't get me wrong, I loved Big Hank, but I was more worried about our secondary. 

bukyze's picture

Hopefully we get the same results Doss got by coming back.

Doc's picture

I'm so glad Roby-One is back.  I hope it doesn't cost him some coin next year.  Thanks for the loyalty Bradley.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

Dougger's picture

he's ready for the challenge

I like football

rjsmitty's picture

I, for one, would like to see Roby get a shot on the offensive side of the ball. I have been a youth football coach for 13 years, (11-13 year olds) and I always tell my kids...dont make excuses, character is built on taking responsibility and great athletes make plays!! Let this kid make plays.

"I don't wanna coach average! To hell with that!"  -UFM

Brutus Greyshield's picture

I agree his agressive ball-attacking instincts would serve the team well on passes over the middle or deep jump-ball throws. 

rosenbuck's picture

I'm not saying he's Mike Doss, but he came back to win a title and we all know how that turned out...