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

By Tim Shoemaker on April 28, 2015 at 8:35 am

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.

On the day Ohio State’s safeties were made available to the media, Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell were persistent in their request to do their interviews together. Even when the two were supposed to be separated, they couldn’t be taken apart.

As one of the top safety tandems in the Big Ten, Powell and Bell spend a lot of time together directing the back end of the Buckeyes’ secondary. They provide clarity and instructions to the cornerbacks.

And while part of their duties as the starting safeties is to direct others, Powell and Bell are also standout football players themselves.

Bell, the junior from Rossville Ga., was Ohio State’s second-leading tackler in 2014 behind only linebacker Joshua Perry with 92 tackles. Bell also led the team with six interceptions. Powell racked up 76 tackles on the year (fourth on the team) and had four interceptions. He made the game-clinching pick in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama and was named Defensive MVP in the national championship game against Oregon.

“Going off last year and seeing the success we had late in the season, basically we’re just coming out here and trying to enhance it and get that better,” Powell said this spring. “Everybody’s coming out here playing with more confidence.

Powell and Bell will no doubt be the starters at safety for the Buckeyes come fall, but they have two very capable backups in junior Cam Burrows and sophomore Erick Smith.

“Going off last year and seeing the success we had late in the season, basically we’re just coming out here and trying to enhance it and get that bette. Everybody’s coming out here playing with more confidence.”– Tyvis Powell

Recruited as a cornerback who has since moved to safety, Burrows seems to be pencilled in as Ohio State’s starting nickelback this fall. He seems to be the prototypical nickel in Chris Ash’s defense.

Smith, on the other hand, is a ball hawk and a future star in the Buckeyes’ secondary. He recorded two interceptions in Ohio State’s spring game.

“Cam Burrows has probably invested the most amount of time, not only in the unit, but on defense and maybe on this football team this offseason in terms of trying to put in extra work to try and make himself better so that’s been fun to watch,” Ash said this spring. “Erick just continues to grow.”

Safety is probably the position on Ohio State’s defense where there is the most depth. Powell and Bell are obviously capable starters, but Burrows and Smith could likely start anywhere else in the Big Ten.

It’s just another advantage the Buckeyes have as they prepare to defend their national championship.

“The whole unit in my opinion is working hard every single day,” Ash said. “They’ve shown up to try and get better and they’ve really bought into the culture that we’re trying to have in the room and that’s been great.”

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