Stepping into Roby's Shoes: Armani Reeves – and his Glorious Rattail – is Ready for the Opener

By Kyle Rowland on August 20, 2013 at 9:30a

They say coaches and players take on the personality of their head coach. At Ohio State, it’s no different.

For a decade, everyone in the football program was Tresselized. Little was revealed during interviews as players talked in a monotonous tone. The mood changed almost overnight with the arrival of Urban Meyer. Brash and straightforward have replaced quiet and secretive.

On Monday, when cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was asked the obvious – who will start in place of the suspended Bradley Roby? – he didn’t hesitate with his answer: Armani Reeves. It was prompt and direct.

In describing Reeves, Coombs rattled off characteristics that are a coach’s dream, none including mention of his glorious rattail.

“Incredible offseason, great spring, works really hard, understands the game, very committed, very focused,” Coombs said. “He still has to play. We still have to find out on the 31st.”

Reeves, who will start at corner alongside Doran Grant, beat out Tyvis Powell, Eli Apple, Gareon Conley and Cam Burrows in a competition defined as “heated.” It began at the outset of fall camp, when it became apparent Roby would face some sort of suspension for his role in an altercation at a Bloomington, Ind., bar.

Apple, Conley and Burrows are three members of the Buckeyes’ talented 2013 recruiting class, while Reeves and Powell entered Ohio State last season. All five were highly sought-after players who push themselves to reach the apex of every challenge they meet.

“We’re all competitive. We’re all trying to get on the field,” Reeves said. “Everyone at the end of the day wants to play. We have a whole bunch of freshmen coming in that were highly ranked. It’s always going to be competitive. That’s what we want. If you’re not competitive, then you aren’t getting better. This is the ideal situation for all of us to compete and get better.”

The assembly of defensive backs already spent the offseason together improving on coverage and ball skills. Putting on the pads and going full speed against Ohio State’s efficient offense is another element in the strengthening of the defensive backfield.

“Armani Reeves has had a phenomenal offseason,” Coombs said. “He’s eager and ready to go, and then those three freshmen are going to be very talented players. At Ohio State, we expect to play all of those kids before the end of the year.”

For Reeves, reaching this point has featured an odyssey lasting two years that has been winding if not treacherous. The Massachusetts native was interested in Ohio State throughout the recruiting process, but Penn State and Michigan were more likely destinations.

Then Meyer was hired.

As National Signing Day 2012 approached, Reeves made his pledge for the Buckeyes.

“Coming from Massachusetts, you’d never expect a kid from Boston to play for The Ohio State,” he said. “It’s a very different experience. I can’t wait to have my family and friends see me on the field.”

It’s not the first time they’ll see Reeves making plays in scarlet and gray. During last year’s undefeated march, he developed into an integral member of the “Piranhas” kick coverage unit. For Reeves, though, the fun ended just as the party was getting started. He suffered a season-ending knee injury six games into the season.

“It’s always going to be competitive. That’s what we want. If you’re not competitive, then you aren’t getting better.”

The devotion to special teams has paid off. A direct route to increased playing time on offense or defense is through contributions on special teams. Reeves and Rod Smith are each examples of Meyer’s philosophy.

“Coach Meyer pays a lot of attention to special teams, probably more than any coach in the country,” Reeves said. “He really prides himself on having the best special teams in the country. So when we’re out there, we want to make sure we’re doing that, having the best special teams in the country.

“We pretty much treat it like it’s the offense or the defense because it’s that important to him.”

That outlook will need to be embraced starting in Week 2 against San Diego State. Roby’s return will signal a shift to the second-team defense and special teams duties for Reeves. But he’s anything but disheartened about the inevitable demotion.

“[Roby] is obviously one of the best in the country, if not the best,” Reeves said. “When he comes back, I’ll continue working hard. If I’m on the field at corner, I’m going to go hard. If I’m in on special teams, I’m going to go hard. It really doesn’t matter where I’m at. I’m going to do my job and do it the best I can and help this team.”

It’s the same approach Roby has taken during his punishment. Practicing with the second-team defense, he’s been active in teaching the underclassmen, including Reeves, the ins and outs of the cornerback position.

“He’s been very supportive and working very hard like always,” Reeves said of Roby. “Nothing’s really changed for him. He’s breaking down film every day. His technique is always on point. I’m learning from him.”

Said Coombs: “Bradley Roby does his business like a professional. He’s incredible in our meeting room. We scrimmaged and we played a veteran and three true freshmen, and he is the leader by far. He teaches, he communicates, he puts his arm around those young guys, and he is talking them through how to play the position.”

The teaching isn’t through yet. On Saturday, Meyer made it clear the team was nowhere near ready to play a game. That message was reiterated Monday afternoon. But this time it was a player who delivered the message.

“We have to work on some things,” Reeves admitted. “But like Coach Meyer said, we have two weeks to get ready. We’ll be ready when the game comes. Right now, we’re focusing on four to six seconds as hard as we can and getting the little kinks out.”

When gameday arrives, Reeves will pull on his No. 26 jersey with a noticeable tinge of anxiety. But he’ll grow comfortable in front of the 105,000-plus delirious fans, knowing that a moment he’s lost gallons of sweat for and worked hundreds of hours toward has come to fruition.  

“I’ll probably be nervous,” he said. “It’s my first start, who wouldn’t be nervous? First play, first hit, I’ll be cool. It’s a great experience, and I can’t wait for it.

“I just have to take the opportunity and go with it.”


Comments Show All Comments

Txsbuckeye's picture

Like Reeves. He brought some juice in the spring game. Hate the rat tail. Someone told me all Bostonians have a rat tail. I don't know if that's true.

Graduate Assistant at the Vonn Bell Academy For Children Who Can't Read Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too

shamgod's picture

Oh, it's true. Every one of them.

MassiveAttack's picture

Here in the "Flyover States", or if you prefer "The Midwest", rat tails went out of style in the mid 90s.  Perhaps Armani is just trying to be retro, like all the Box Fades that are popping up again.  Maybe I should cut off all of my dreads except one?  Would I be retro? 

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

CC's picture

I'm not a fan of the rat tail.  If I were black I would rock the flat-top (i've never heard the term box fade before now, but assume we're talking about the same thing) a la Rod Smith but with an additional 3 inches.  We had tight end who was about 6'4 but with flat-top he was 6'8.  I always thought that was strong look.  I don't understand the dreads though.  Seems like it would be a maintenance nightmare, plus I wouldn't want my helmet flying off or to have to wear a giant helmet like d-Rob.

zjhousley's picture

Would love to see this guy make a big impact with his opportunity in week 1.  It'd be nice to add some good depth at DB.  We have a lot of young talented guys, but most are lacking big game time experience.  However, I can't wait for Roby Island to be back...

buckguyfan1's picture

Coombs takes the competition thing to a whole new level.  Can't wait to see these guys on the field.

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

There are two kinds of sweat...fear sweat, and fat sweat.
These young fellows have put in the "fat sweat" since Urban arrived. 
Now it's time to instill the "fear sweat" into all our opponents.
Eleven days, Eleven Warriors!
And the Dominoes will begin to fall!

I like cookies.

osubuck57's picture

If Reeves beat out Tyvis, Eli, Cam, and Gareon, he 'll get the job done.Love his attitude. Looking forward to seeing him play corner and special teams.


cinserious's picture

I'm super excited about the future CBs at Ohio State. Coach Coombs and Urban will continue to recruit the best HS talent in the country and develop outstanding college football players. Even after All American Roby departs, the future is bright with Reeves, Doran Doran, Apple, Conley, Burrows, Powell, etc. I call this young group the Pick-6.

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

jkrk's picture

RatTail Island, baby.

chirobuck's picture

haha, catchy


^ best post ever ^

zbd's picture

Waiting to see if he can play. Don't care about rattails. With the questions at LB, the DBs are even more important. 

Hoody Wayes's picture

It may turn out - by a twist of fate - that this year's MNCG will feature this Rattail vs. A.F.R.O.S:

OurHonorDefend09's picture

CB U will continue to pump out studs at the position. No worries in my mind at all. Will there be some growing pains? Yes, but there's too much talent for someone not to break out as Roby's heir to the CB throne. It might not end up being Reeves, but I'm sure rooting for him.
Lets get this show on the road already, shall we? Anyone in for a Tuesday night game?

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

chirobuck's picture

it might also be the guy starting next to him.....from what I've read from some people at the practices Grant is an instant upgrade over Howard and he has quietly entrenched himself as the starter even with all that young talent behind him without hearing of even the possibility of him getting pushed out.....yet there isn't much hype about him at all


^ best post ever ^

OurHonorDefend09's picture

To be honest, I was calling for Doran over Howard last never. Never thought Howard was better after Doran got that early play time last year. Now, he finally gets his shot. 

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

Zimmy09's picture

I was also very impressed with Grant last year.  I think he will be one of the best CB's in the B1G this year when all said and done.  Didn't he start one of the early games due to an injury and get a pick?  I want to say it was UAB...

OurHonorDefend09's picture

Yeah, that was the early play time I was talking about. I'm with you though, I don't exactly recall how/why he got the said PT. Excited to see this young secondary (and defense) grow over the season.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

Gametime's picture

I think that's done on purpose, considering that Roby is going to get a lot of attention so he might not be tested as much this season, but having Grants ability low key will have a lot of teams sleeping on him and we all know he has ability to really make them pay for that.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

Squirrel Master's picture

I don't get it, beat out Tyvis Powell for corner. Isn't Tyvis battling for the STAR against Vonn? That would tell me that he wouldn't be a starting CB then.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

nfischer's picture

You saved me from having to type this. My thoughts exactly.

chirobuck's picture

Its interesting to see Powell's name in the mix, I assumed after being the star this year he would be back at safety next year.....its good know he so versatile, will def end up one of my fav buckeyes ever if he turns into a player, being the first to commit after the sanctions and all 


^ best post ever ^

villagebuckeye's picture

Dont underestimate the importance of the star position... If Powell plays well at star he should stay there... Put Bell and Bogard at the safeties next year

InHartWeTrust's picture

I hope he goes nuts in Week 1, would be great for his confidence in the future, as I am sure he will see the field plenty this year (and even more if we have an injury back there).
Best of luck to the kid, I really like him.

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

He should get the rat tail trademarked before he's a star in the NFL.

pjtobin's picture

What a group of guys fighting to get playing time. They are all beasts. He only beat them out by his tail. 

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

buckskin's picture

If I'm reading the best Buckeye football coverage on 11W, I'm going to go hard.  Get em Armani.

TraptnMI's picture

Well told. I've got GOOSEBUMPS and butterflys in my stomach for Reeves. Breathe baby,Breathe!

" It's real good whatcha done Anthony, real good ! "