The Time is Now For Seyvn Banks

By Chris Lauderback on June 11, 2020 at 8:35 am
Sevyn Banks recorded 170 snaps, 11 tackles and one interception as a reserve cornerback in 2019.

On a defense looking to replace seven of 11 starters from a season ago, including three of the four spots in the secondary, opportunities abound for guys like junior cornerback Sevyn Banks. 

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound corner is a familiar name to Ohio State fans but through two full seasons, his most significant contributions have come on special teams, most notably a touchdown return of Chris Olave's punt block as a true freshman in the 2018 edition of The Game. 

The 33-yard touchdown by Banks came with the Buckeyes leading just 27-19 late in the third quarter, launching what became a 62-39 blowout victory. 

Though the play made him famous for a Saturday, Banks didn't see the field in the first eight games of his freshman season before logging special teams snaps in each of the final six. He finished 2018 with one tackle and one huge touchdown. 

As a sophomore last season, Banks found his way into the back end of the defensive backfield rotation, seeing snaps in 11 of 14 games. 

Logging 170 total defensive plays, Banks saw 21 against Maryland, 33 versus Michigan and a season-high 37 against Rutgers. 

The game against the Scarlet Knights also served as his first career defensive start as Ohio State rested Damon Arnette. Banks responded with a pair of tackles. 

When the dust settled on his sophomore campaign, Banks recorded 11 stops, three pass breakups including one versus Michigan, and an interception against Northwestern. 

The stats frankly don't jump off the page but that's not the point. The value of those 170 game snaps on film, along with the opportunity to rep against guys like Chris Olave, K.J. Hill, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack and others every day in practice is where you find the real value in Sevyn's 2019 season. 

On the flip side, Banks was primed to enhance his development in spring drills but the pandemic erased that opportunity for everyone. Before drills were halted, Banks did record a couple interceptions of Justin Fields throws on day one, offering a potential glimpse of what's to come. 

Sevyn certainly has a believer in Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 pick in last month's NFL Draft, who last season touted Banks as "the next great corner at Ohio State." 

Even with Okudah, Damon Arnette and Jordan Fuller off to the NFL, coupled with the dismissal of Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint back in February, the competition for playing time is fierce. 

Shaun Wade will obviously serve as the team's No. 1 corner before heading off to the NFL as a likely first round pick but even in a system typically featuring three cornerbacks partnered with one single-high safety (Josh Proctor), Banks will have to standout among other names including Marcus Williamson, Cameron Brown and Tyreke Johnson. 

Also a junior, Brown saw more time than Banks in 2019, logging 254 snaps, and figures to be his top competition for the starting spot on the outside opposite Wade. 

One scenario could have Banks essentially split time with Brown unless one creates significant separation which is a little tough to fathom at this point. 

Another scenario could have Banks battling Williamson for primary duties in the slot. Now a senior, Williamson hasn't seen much time in his career. Knowing this is his last shot, he'll put up a fight. 

A third scenario could see Wade, Brown and Banks as the go-to trio on obvious passing downs with Proctor at safety. 

All of this assumes former five-star and now redshirt sophomore Tyreke Johnson may not yet be ready earn more playing time than Brown or Banks. That assumption is mostly based on Johnson earning just 57 snaps in 2019 but completely ruling out his ability to make a push would be a mistake. 

Finally, Lejond Cavazos and Ryan Watts were early enrollees but the pandemic's impact on spring ball made what was already an uphill climb for early playing time even steeper. 

Considering all those names and factors, the worst case scenario for Banks feels like he'll be a fixture in the rotation.

The best case scenario however sees Banks breaking out as Ohio State's no-doubt No. 2 cover man, giving the Buckeyes a legit complement to Wade that would go a long way in keeping the pass defense among the upper crust in college football. 

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