Ohio State’s 2018 roster is loaded with talent, per usual, but how does it compare to the Buckeyes’ previous teams since Urban Meyer has arrived in Columbus?
Here at Eleven Warriors, we’re taking a position-by-position look at how the Buckeyes’ roster stacks up with Ohio State’s rosters from Meyer’s first six seasons as head coach.
That look continues now with a breakdown of Ohio State’s roster at cornerback, a position that has been perhaps the Buckeyes’ strongest position in the Meyer era thus far.
As you’ve probably already heard many times by now if you’re a regular Eleven Warriors reader, Ohio State has had a remarkable run of developing NFL cornerbacks during the Meyer era, having had five first-round picks at the position in the past five years.
A big reason for that success was Kerry Coombs, Ohio State’s cornerbacks coach for each of Meyer’s first six seasons in Columbus, who is now the secondary coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The expectations for Ohio State’s cornerbacks haven’t dropped at all, though, going into Taver Johnson’s first season back with the Buckeyes, as he inherits a roster full of cornerbacks with their own NFL potential.
How exactly does that roster, in terms of talent, depth and experience, compare to the rosters that Coombs had to work with in each of his six seasons in Columbus? In order to evaluate that, let’s take a look at each of Ohio State’s cornerback rosters since 2012.
Ohio State’s cornerback rosters for every season from 2012 through 2018 are listed below with each player’s year of eligibility, number of recruiting stars (based on 247Sports’ composite rankings) and how many games they had appeared in and started going into each respective season, with analysis to follow on how this year’s group stacks up with the rest.
Notes: Players who made position switches are only listed for the seasons that they were cornerbacks for the Buckeyes. Players who made midseason position switches are listed if they began the season at cornerback.
Travis Howard, Redshirt Senior (★★★★) – 31 games, 11 starts
Bradley Roby, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 13 games, 13 starts
Doran Grant, Sophomore (★★★★) – 13 games
Adam Griffin, Redshirt Sophomore (★★) – 4 games
Najee Murray, Freshman (★★★★)
Armani Reeves, Freshman (★★★★)
Vincent Petrella, Redshirt Senior (Walk-on) – 2 games
Nik Sarac, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Bradley Roby, Redshirt Junior (★★★) – 24 games, 24 starts
Doran Grant, Junior (★★★★) – 25 games, 1 start
Armani Reeves, Sophomore (★★★★) – 6 games
Eli Apple, Freshman (★★★★)
Cam Burrows, Freshman (★★★★)
Gareon Conley, Freshman (★★★★)
Tyler McIntosh, Junior (Walk-on)
Nik Sarac, Junior (Walk-on)
Trevon Forte, Freshman (Walk-on)
Doran Grant, Senior (★★★★) – 39 games, 15 starts
Armani Reeves, Junior (★★★★) – 19 games, 3 starts
Eli Apple, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Gareon Conley, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Marshon Lattimore, Freshman (★★★★)
Damon Webb, Freshman (★★★★)
Nik Sarac, Senior (Walk-on*)
Trevon Forte, Redshirt Freshman (Walk-on)
*Sarac was awarded a scholarship for his senior season, but turned it down so that another player could receive a scholarship.
Eli Apple, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 15 games, 14 starts
Gareon Conley, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 15 games
Damon Webb, Sophomore (★★★★) – 9 games
Marshon Lattimore, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Denzel Ward, Freshman (★★★★)
Damon Arnette, Freshman (★★★)
Joshua Norwood, Freshman (★★★)
Trevon Forte, Redshirt Sophomore (Walk-on)
Elijaah Goins, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Logan Kelleher, Sophomore (Walk-on)
C.J. Saunders, Freshman (Walk-on)
Gareon Conley, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 28 games, 13 starts
Denzel Ward, Sophomore (★★★★) – 11 games
Marshon Lattimore, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 7 games
Damon Arnette, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Joshua Norwood, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Wayne Davis, Freshman (★★★★)
Rodjay Burns, Freshman (★★★)
Elijaah Goins, Junior (Walk-on) – 1 game
Trevon Forte, Redshirt Junior (Walk-on)
Cin’Quan Haney, Junior (Walk-on)
Logan Kelleher, Junior (Walk-on)
C.J. Saunders, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Denzel Ward, Junior (★★★★) – 24 games
Damon Arnette, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 13 games
Kendall Sheffield, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★)
Jeffrey Okudah, Freshman (★★★★★)
Shaun Wade, Freshman (★★★★★)
Amir Riep, Freshman (★★★★)
Marcus Williamson, Freshman (★★★★)
Trevon Forte, Redshirt Senior (Walk-on) – 2 games
Cin’Quan Haney, Senior (Walk-on)
Damon Arnette, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 27 games, 12 starts
Kendall Sheffield, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 14 games, 3 starts
Jeffrey Okudah, Sophomore (★★★★★) – 14 games
Marcus Williamson, Sophomore (★★★★) – 10 games
Shaun Wade, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★★)
Tyreke Johnson, Freshman (★★★★★)
Sevyn Banks, Freshman (★★★★)
Cameron Brown, Freshman (★★★★)
Alex Badine Jr., Junior (Walk-on)
Lloyd McFarquhar, Freshman (Walk-on)
Overview: With the top-ranked recruits that Meyer and his staff have been able to reel in over the past two years, Ohio State’s cornerback roster appears to be as talented as it’s ever been.
In the past two recruiting cycles alone, the Buckeyes have landed four cornerbacks who were five-star recruits out of high school: Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade, Tyreke Johnson and Kendall Sheffield (who came to Ohio State as a four-star junior college transfer in 2017 after originally committing to Alabama as one of the nation’s top cornerback recruits in 2015).
Those five-star cornerbacks make up 50 percent of Ohio State’s scholarship roster at the position entering the 2018 season. Damon Arnette, meanwhile, gives the Buckeyes a cornerback with two years of playing experience, while Marcus Williamson and Sevyn Banks also look to have high upside.
Ohio State’s depth and experience at cornerback entering the 2018 season are pretty much on par with what the Buckeyes have had entering each of the last six seasons. With eight scholarship cornerbacks, the Buckeyes actually have more than they had in any of Meyer’s previous seasons. The Buckeyes have only four scholarship cornerbacks with playing experience and two cornerbacks with starting experience, but both of those numbers are tied for the most Meyer’s Buckeyes have had.
The bar for performance for Ohio State’s cornerbacks has been set incredibly high. Each of Meyer’s first six rosters at Ohio State have included at least one future first-round NFL draft pick, beginning with Bradley Roby in 2012 and 2013; Ohio State’s 2015 roster included four (Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward).
As such, success for Ohio State’s current cornerbacks and Taver Johnson will be defined by whether they continue to have one of the best units in college football and whether they continue to put top prospects in the NFL, and that’s a lot to ask.
With talents like Sheffield, Okudah, Wade and Tyreke Johnson on board, though, Ohio State’s short- and long-term potential at the position both remain very promising.