Spring Rewind: What We Learned About Ohio State's Cornerbacks

By Tim Shoemaker on April 26, 2015 at 7:45 am
Gareon Conley is a starting corner at Ohio State.

With spring football in the books, Eleven Warriors will look back over the next week at what we learned from each position group heading into the offseason.

Ohio State’s secondary only lost one of its four starters from a year ago. That starter, however, was the Buckeyes’ most important player in the their back four.

Doran Grant, Ohio State’s No. 1 corner during its run to the national championship who contained wide receivers such as Amari Cooper and Tony Lippett, has moved on from the program after a solid four-year career. Grant is projected as a mid-to-late round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are back at safety, while Eli Apple returns at corner. It was always known Apple would slide over and replace Grant as the Buckeyes’ No. 1 option at corner, but at the beginning of spring ball there was a competition to be in the No. 2 spot opposite Apple.

After 15 spring practices, which included a spring game, it appears that competition is over.

“Gareon Conley is penciled in now,” head coach Urban Meyer said following the spring game. “We’re going to make the call to the family and say your son earned a right to start at Ohio State.”

“You’ve gotta compete every day for your spot and my teammates always push me and I just know I’ve gotta come out every day and be on my toes.” – Gareon Conley

It didn’t come easy to Conley, though. He was pushed for that starting job, primarily by sophomore Damon Webb — a highly-touted recruit out of Detroit who still should see some playing time this season.

“You’ve gotta compete every day for your spot and my teammates always push me and I just know I’ve gotta come out every day and be on my toes,” Conley said this spring. “You’ve gotta be confident to be a corner.”

Speaking of confidence, one player who doesn’t lack that is Apple. The redshirt sophomore from Voorhees, N.J. knows what’s expected of him this upcoming season as he replaces Grant, who was an All-Big Ten performer.

“It’s a lot different because everybody’s looking at you to be the guy. You don’t have somebody like a Doran anymore, it’s you,” Apple said this spring. “You’ve gotta take the lead, you’ve gotta be able to coach the young guys up and get them back up to speed.”

Apple is the undisputed leader among the cornerbacks and Conley appears to have cemented himself as the second starter. But with Webb and redshirt freshman Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State has plenty of depth, too. Lattimore has been hampered by injury since arriving on campus last fall, but all signs right now point to him being full-go when fall camp rolls around.

“I love my room right now, I love my unit,” Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said this spring. “They are really working at their craft, they’re studying themselves, they’re grading themselves every day. They show up ready to work.”

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