Sevyn Banks' Offseason Development is Crucial for Ohio State's 2020 Defense

By David Regimbal on March 5, 2020 at 1:05 pm
Ohio State cornerback Sevyn Banks

If you watch Ohio State football, you've seen Sevyn Banks make plays.

The junior cornerback came to Ohio State from Orlando as part of the 2018 recruiting class. He was rated a four-star prospect and the No. 23 cornerback in the class, but in his first two years in Columbus, he's been relegated to special teams and reserve duty.

Despite that, he's found ways to show up on the stat sheet.

His most memorable moment came in Ohio State's dominant 62-39 win over Michigan in 2018.

In the late stages of the third quarter, it was still a one-score game with Ohio State leading 27-19. Michigan was set up for a punt after a Buckeye defensive stop, but Chris Olave found a hole in the middle of the line and got a hand on the ball. 

Banks was in perfect position to take advantage as he plucked the blocked punt out of the air and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. It was a play that gave Ohio State a wave of momentum and triggered the rout.

He saw more playing time on defense as a sophomore last season and recorded his first career interception in the fourth quarter against Northwestern.

But Ohio State is going to need a lot more from him in 2020 after the departures of Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette and the dismissal of Amir Riep

The secondary is one of the biggest question marks of the offseason for second-year head coach Ryan Day and new co-defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs.

But if the first impression from spring camp is any indication, Banks could be making the jump Ohio State needs from him.

During the Buckeyes' first practice on Monday, Banks picked off two Justin Fields passes. Getting the best of Fields twice in one session is an impressive accomplishment, considering Fields threw only three interceptions in 14 games last year (354 pass attempts).

If the junior cornerback continues to make plays like that in spring and fall camps, the coaching staff will have an easy decision to make him a starter. The tougher decision will be to figure out who plays where.

The biggest reason for optimism in Ohio State's secondary is the return of Shaun Wade, who Day expects to be "the top corner in the country." Day and Coombs need to identify two cornerbacks to join Wade in the Buckeyes' three-cornerback, one-high safety base defense.

Day admitted he was uncertain who would play the slot cornerback spot after practice on Monday.

“I think you find your best three guys, and if Sevyn, Cam (Brown) or Shaun, one of those three guys can do a good job inside then we'll do that,” Day said. “As time goes on here through March and April, he'll get a good feel for their skill sets and try to figure out the best guys to put on the field, especially for third down.”

Spring camp will wage on and give way to summer, when the rest of Ohio State's 2020 recruiting class reports to campus. The Buckeyes will have more options at cornerback when the roster is full and healthy going into fall camp, but Banks can do a lot for himself and the defense if he makes the leap into a starting role this offseason.

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