Oft-Overlooked Cornerback Marcus Williamson Looks To Burst Out Of Shadows In Senior Season at Ohio State

By Colin Hass-Hill on June 23, 2020 at 1:05 pm
Marcus Williamson

The long-term plans of Marcus Williamson don’t necessarily have to include football.

After needing only three years to graduate from Ohio State with an undergraduate degree in History while minoring in English, he’s been accepted into a graduate program in the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, his father Marlon Williamson told Eleven Warriors last month. Eventually, once his playing career ends, he plans to attend law school.

But if things go his way this fall, he hopes to have a chance to chase another dream of his: Playing in the NFL.

“Every kid wants to play on the next level, and we'll see how that turns out,” Marlon said.

So far, Williamson’s on-field career hasn’t necessarily gone how most expected – or hoped.

As a freshman cornerback, the Westerville native stood out enough to play 77 snaps across six games, avoiding a redshirt.

The next year, with Denzel Ward gone, there was thought that Williamson might be able to find a spot into Taver Johnson’s rotation – potentially as a 5-foot-10, 186-pound slot corner. He was a standout in the 2018 spring game. Instead, he played 42 defensive snaps in the first four games and played special teams in the fifth game of the year before an undisclosed injury forced him out of action the remainder of the year.

Williamson came back as a junior hoping to make up some of the ground lost, but he was only on the field for 86 snaps. Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette and Shaun Wade were on the field for the vast majority of snaps, and Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown were above him on the depth chart, too.

As a rising senior who has yet to crack 100 snaps in a season, Williamson has flown under-the-radar this offseason. 

Yet with Okudah, Arnette and safety Jordan Fuller in the NFL and Shaun Wade moving from nickelback to outside cornerback, new defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs has to reconfigure his entire secondary. In the process, Williamson should factor into his plans.

“We would have every expectation that every one of those kids that were competing at the front end of spring – Sevyn Banks and Cam Brown and Marcus Hooker and Josh Proctor and Marcus Williamson and Tyreke Johnson – are all gonna have bigger roles,” Coombs said. “I have every expectation of getting a lot of guys on the field.”

The only certainty in the defensive backfield is Wade starting on the outside and playing the most snaps among cornerbacks. Otherwise? Ohio State has a lot more questions than answers.

Proctor has the inside track to start at safety, though Hooker will be in the mix, too. Banks and Brown each played at least 170 snaps last season, which seemingly would give them an edge at cornerback. However, do either of them move to slot cornerback, or do they stick on the outside and rotate? Coombs has called Johnson an outside cornerback, so it appears he won’t be in the mix at nickelback.

With so much uncertainty, it's the perfect time for Williamson to rise.

He’s a veteran in his fourth season who Coombs once targeted as a four-star, top-200 overall recruit out of Westerville (though he finished his high school career at IMG Academy). And while he might not have the length of Wade, Banks and Brown, he wouldn’t feel out of place in the slot. Ohio State has thrived with smaller cornerbacks in the past – namely, Ward – and Williamson could be next.

Every year, the Buckeyes have a senior or two who come out of nowhere to finish their career on a high note. In 2020, both Williamson and the Buckeyes hope he can do so and become one of the solutions in a reloading secondary.

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