The Backup All-American

By Kyle Rowland on August 11, 2013 at 1:36a
Bradley Roby: making plays.

Bradley Roby was named a preseason All-American earlier this week. It’s safe to say he’s the only backup in the country who received the honor. Roby’s July run-in with the law led to his demotion. It certainly wasn’t his on-field play.

Roby is a redshirt junior in the midst of his final season at Ohio State. That’s how good he’s already been in two seasons. Athleticism and skill make him the prototype for the quintessential lockdown cornerback. He finished 2012 with a nation-best 1.73 passes defended per game – 19 total. Roby’s 12 pass break-ups tied a program record. That’s why NFL scouts will fill the Ohio Stadium press box throughout the season.

The impact doesn’t stop on the playing field, though. Roby is an influential locker room presence, providing a major source of leadership and motivation. His vocal nature has given the Buckeyes a new demeanor that screams confidence.

“I’m either going to succeed as a leader or fail as a leader,” Roby said this summer.

On a July Saturday night in Bloomington, Ind., Roby took a step in the wrong direction. A misdemeanor battery charge hasn’t resulted in lost playing time – yet. But a one- or two-game suspension seems inevitable.

In the weeks after Ohio State’s improbable 12-0 season last year, the biggest question mark surrounding the impending season was who would be back. Roby took almost two months of careful deliberation to reach his decision, and it came with a carrot on the end.

“If we get to the national championship, it’s going to be because of players like me and older guys leading us to victory,” he said. “We have the potential, we have the talent, we have the coaching. It’s just about putting it together and getting that leadership. I wanted to challenge myself to do that. It’s going to be a learning experience for me.”

It’s begun in a far different manor than Roby imagined. True freshman Gareon Conley has replaced the Thorpe Award candidate on the first-team defense. Instead of hanging his head, Roby has looked skyward and continued to coach up underclassmen off the field and knock away passes on it.

“I feel like it’s a humbling experience for him,” said senior safety Christian Bryant. “I feel like it’s to show an example just because he was a starter last year that nothing is guaranteed. I feel like he’s doing a pretty good job of taking that role, understanding what he needs to do and showing the young guys that he doesn’t have a problem with it.”

Ohio State’s secondary is a cocktail of experience and leadership. Roby, Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett and Pittsburgh Brown are veterans who've seen it all in recent years. It’s an element exhibited in all championship teams. In line with the Buckeyes’ “Pay It Forward” motto, the quartet of fourth- and fifth-year players has brought the movement to the football team. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs has admired Roby’s willingness to take young players aside and point out the nuances of coverage.

“In the meeting room, he’s teaching those young guys,” Coombs said. “We’ve got good leadership from Bradley Roby.”

His grasp on the game and ability to communicate has earned him the coach on the field title. Teammates rave about it. Junior Doran Grant said he tries to hang around Roby just because his knowledge of the game is so plentiful. When Eli Apple and Cam Burrows enrolled at Ohio State in January, they quickly realized it was around Roby where they should be a sponge.

It wasn’t long ago that Roby was the newcomer. He came to Ohio State after committing to Vanderbilt to play wide receiver. Shying away from the Buckeyes’ success at cornerback proved to be an impossible situation.

“We’ve had the greatest history of cornerback play of any college football team in the country,” Roby said. “So to me, if you’re a corner, why would you go anywhere else? You’re lucky, frankly, if Ohio State offers you a scholarship at corner. That means you’re passing an incredible test.”

It doesn’t end there, though. Roby is a man with a plan. He came to Ohio State with a clear set of goals, many of which remain intact.

“I told a guy a long time ago that I was going to be one of the best corners to ever play here,” Roby said, “and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished that yet.”

It might contain a few less chapters, but the final book on Roby’s career is nearing completion. Greatness is all but certain. 


Comments Show All Comments

InHartWeTrust's picture

I love Roby.  Hoping he's not out too many games, and that he has a monster season.  Really cool to hear how he is coaching the younger guys up on the on-the-field stuff.  I have read "he is in a different stratosphere this year" and I can't wait to see it on the field.

jack's picture

Is Roby by any chance related to the punter who used to play for the Dolphins?

Matt Gutridge's picture

I don't think they are related.
Wikipedia has this about Reggie Roby's family:
"Reggie's cousin, Courtney Roby, is a wide receiver in the NFL."

I did not know that R. Roby played for Iowa from 1979-82.
I also forgot he died:
"On February 22, 2005, Roby's son, Julian, found him without a pulse in their Nashville home. The cause of death, although no report has been offically released, is thought to have been from a massive heart attack from an over enlarged heart."
Don Shula: "He was an outstanding punter for us and his booming kicks often helped us win the field position battle."
Bradley Roby   Reggie Roby

Matt Gutridge's picture

RIP 1961-2005

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

And my groin hurts now.

Poison nuts's picture

I hope he's not out many games either. Look, I know he got in trouble at a bar. I'm not sure he should be out much for shoving a bouncer because, well, bouncers can be epic dickheads. Not saying this bouncer he got into it with was in the wrong. Just saying I've run into bouncers worthy of giving a smack to. I've also been smacked around by a bouncer who was eager to just fight someone. I don't love bouncers...but he's supposed to be a leader & should  have removed himself...hoping it's deemed unnecessary to make him lose more than a game...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

cajunbuckeye's picture

I love bouncers. No matter what you do to them, you don't feel bad. I agree that Roby should have separated himself from the situation. Just say no to acting out. Violence is the easy answer. The hardest lesson is to do the right thing, in the wrong situation.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

zbd's picture

Another learning experience for Roby and the rest of the Buckeyes. Take a few game suspensions and learn to stay away from risky places. Now get ready to show his leadership on the field.

BuCkIfReAk's picture

Please let it b just one game - after a few weeks of analysis - I've got S.D.St. In my top 25(#23). Without Roby, that makes 3 returning starters on d for that gm. Thankfully, wide-out/qb isn't one of their strengths.

Mark May is an alien.

Hovenaut's picture

Hoping for one game as well.

Not only is SD ST decent, I'm looking at Cal. Would hope Roby does not sit or go into that game cold, as the Golden Bears will be passing left and right under new coach Sonny Dykes.

Eager to see some news on the situation soon.

BtownBuckeye's picture

If we are worried about San Diego State then we dont deserve to be the number 2 team in the nation. 1 player shouldnt make a difference against a team were supposed to dismantle, even if he is an all-american.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Adversity shows true character. We've ALL done bonehead things, especially when we're young. Roby made a large error in judgment. Ok, learn from it, grow and change.
It sounds like he has. He'll still have to pay the consequences (hopefully, a short suspension) for a few moments of "knuckle-headedness"; but accepting your medicine while being a mentor to the young guys tends to show me he's grown.
Good job, young man! Buckeye nation is pulling for you.

buckeyepastor's picture

Back-up all-american sounds a lot better than suspended all-american, I suppose.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Buckaroo's picture

The Actions of a True Leader speak much louder than words. Roby's recent Actions are Not indicative of Leadership. He let his Team and himself down miserably. I have little doubt of his football talent, but Leadership is not all about the ball.


doodah_man's picture

My single game alumni ticket (Fla A&M) doesn't look so bad now...both Roby and Guapo should be back!

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Becool12's picture

From what I read, he pushed a security guard in the chest. I don't see why it is as big of a deal as it is. If this was a college student and not a "student-athlete" this case would have been thrown out. I think he should miss maybe a couple of games just to show the other superstars and rising talents that there are punishments for putting yourself in certain situations but that's it. 

USMC11917's picture

Leadership is more than saying the right things. It's doing them that makes the real difference. Hope Roby has a successful season in both play and leadership. Good luck on the rebound Roby!

Edincostarica's picture

It takes a decent person to accept the the consequences of your action the way he is. It takes a bigger person to not only accept the consequences with humility but positive reinforcement by staying positive and helping his fellow teammates.  Good luck Roby and stay positive. We have all made mistakes. Just learn from them.


DefendYoungstown's picture

When you put your hand on somebody else you cross the line. We have all been young and done things that we regret the next day.  We can call him the "back up all American" all we want, the truth is he put himself in a situation to land where he is now.  I hope he comes through this and contributes to the teams success this season. Do I feel bad for where he is right now, I can't say that I do.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

BeijingBucks's picture

A lot of judgements being passed by those without actual facts on the case...  Due process anyone before saying what he 'deserves'?

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

3technique's picture

I used to be a bouncer and there are definitely ones that look for a reason to be dicks! I was only there to meet girls ! I think it will blow over. It sounds like Roby is really helping the youngins, which helps the whole secondary.

BME_Buckeye's picture

We’ve had the greatest history of cornerback play of any college football team in the country,” Roby said. “So to me, if you’re a corner, why would you go anywhere else? You’re lucky, frankly, if Ohio State offers you a scholarship at corner. That means you’re passing an incredible test.”

Yes Roby, OSU does have a great history of cornerback play. 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


dr green's picture

Thanks for the video, BME.

Dougger's picture

that video was freakin outstanding. about to run through some walls here

I like football

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Mixed emotions, wish the kids would stay out of bars, when you're a football player for a big name program you're a target, every yahoo who's had a few drinks wants to challenge you.   On the other hand, a BOUNCER files a charge of assault because he got pushed in the chest?  I thought bouncers were supposed to be tough guys, you'd think he'd be a little embarrassed to do that and it would hurt his cred, but again these players are targets.  Roby did not show leadership in that situation.  I'm an old guy and I still have some anger management issues myself (never physical, more of the snarky comment variety), things happen.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Squirrel Master's picture

Roby is a great corner but I am also confident in what I am reading about Gareon Conley. I think the kid is closer to 6'2'' and has the speed to cover anyone. I think he will be just fine as the second starting CB with Doran Grant. Plus I really feel Eli Apple can step in right away too. 
If Roby continues to accept his position and keep being a leader like he is, he will be back on the field soon and I think it will make him look even better. 

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Furious George 27's picture

So based on CBS, 3 of 4 analysts predict OSU will be in the BCS NCG... However, they will either lose  to Bama, A&M and or Louisville.... Gotta love preseason predictions.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

cinserious's picture

With Najee murray dismissed from the team, we are looking extremely thin at CB, especially since this is Roby's final year. My question is what makes true freshman Gareon Conley stand out over Armani Reeves or other true freshmen like Apple and Burrows? We will welcome the additions of Webb and (hopefully Lattimore) at CB in '14.
PS: (Doran Grant already has the other corner)
On the other hand we are loaded and stacked with young talent at safety behind a veteran crew.
Ron Tanner, Devan Bogard, Vonn Bell, Jayme Thompson (when he heals).

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

pjtobin's picture

Great read. I didn't know that Roby was still able to practice. I hope he uses this situation    as a testimonial to younger players. And himself. I hope he learns from it and never forgets how easy it is to flush a career away. He is a stud player. One of the best. Now he needs to act it. I think he will. I think he is going to go far in life. Good luck to him. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

ScarletGray43157's picture

We will see if Roby has grown and learned from his off-field issue.  He may grow into a team leader from it.  If he was deemed to be a team leader before it happened then he let himself and the team down, even though what he did was off the field.  If OSU picks up a close loss while he is suspended this year (if that suspension happens) then he will have to bear some responsibility for that, because a corner like him does account for some of the margin in any victory.  I wish him well.  He is a special talent for sure.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

2002osubuck's picture

“I feel like it’s a humbling experience for him,” said senior safety Christian Bryant. “I feel like it’s to show an example just because he was a starter last year that nothing is guaranteed. I feel like he’s doing a pretty good job of taking that role, understanding what he needs to do and showing the young guys that he doesn’t have a problem with it.”
This is a really good example for our young, really talented players. Our all-American CB working hard, playing backup and showing these guys it's about the team, not the individual. He made a mistake not leaving but his actions now will help him and the young guys in the long run. Sounds like hes becoming one of the leaders we need this year to win every game. 

Larryp713's picture

I don't know if it has been said already, but aside from his freakish athletic ability, what makes Roby a great CB is that edge he plays with. I love that image of him before the TTUN game, where some player comes at him jawing and Roby shoves him off as if to say he does not belong in the same space. That is the swagger that can cause an opposing QB to ignore your side of the field.
The problem is that guys like this can't shut it off. When an opposing player jumps in their face, or a bouncer, their will be a swift reaction. It is pure instinct. Unfortunately, that can lead to problems.
I would like to see his punishment be sharing time with Gareon for the first couple of games, maybe miss out on being the starter. If he is suspended for four games, that will be disappointing. But Coach Meyer has a tough job, setting the tone. We'll see how he decides to handle it.