2024 Secondary Discussion

Discussion in 'Football Talk' started by OSUBasketballJunkie, Dec 31, 2023.

  1. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  4. ScarletMerica

    ScarletMerica Super Buckin' Moderator Staff Member

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    The addition of Caleb Downs is going to be HUGE
     
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  5. OSUBasketballJunkie

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    No Fly Zone.
     
  6. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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    CB: DENZEL BURKE, DAVISON IGBINOSUN
    Outside of adding Downs, there was no bigger coup for Ohio State’s 2024 defense than Burke’s decision to stay for his senior year. His lockdown coverage on the perimeter was the biggest reason why Ohio State led the entire nation in passing yards allowed per game this past season, and he’ll be a strong All-American candidate as a fourth-year starter next fall.

    Burke pairs with Igbinosun to give Ohio State what could be the best cornerback tandem in the country. Igbinosun was a strong No. 2 cornerback in coverage while also making a big impact in run support in his first year as a Buckeye after transferring in from Ole Miss, and he should be even better in 2024 now that he’ll have a full year in Jim Knowles’ system under his belt.

    NICKEL: JORDAN HANCOCK
    Ohio State’s midseason switch to a three-cornerback lineup was another key factor in the success of the Buckeyes’ pass defense this past season. After taking over for Styles as the Buckeyes’ starting nickel, Hancock proved to be a perfect fit for the position as he provided excellent coverage as a slot cornerback while also proving to be more than adept as a run defender and blitzer.

    With all three starting cornerbacks returning for another year, opponents should have an even harder time throwing the ball against Ohio State than they did in 2023, when OSU held its opponents to only five yards per passing attempt and 145.9 passing yards per game, both the best marks in the country.

    FS: CALEB DOWNS
    To say that Downs plugs a hole in Ohio State’s defensive lineup would be a massive understatement. The Buckeyes could have potentially been just fine at free safety with Malik Hartford and/or Ja’Had Carter, but Downs gives Ohio State a truly elite player at the position who can elevate the entire defense to another level.

    Downs was already one of the best safeties in college football last season as a true freshman, earning second-team AP All-American honors while winning the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year award as the nation’s best first-year player. Graded by Pro Football Focus as a top-10 safety in the nation, Downs was a star in both coverage and run support, racking up 107 total tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

    As good as Downs was in his only season at Alabama, he should theoretically be even better now that he’s no longer a freshman and that he will be surrounded by the most talented defense in the country. The Buckeyes shouldn’t need him to make triple-digit tackles like he did for the Crimson Tide, but his elite all-around skill set will give the Buckeyes tremendous matchup flexibility on the back end.

    SS: LATHAN RANSOM
    The final piece of a secondary that truly should be the Best in America in 2024 (if it wasn’t already in 2023), Ransom pairs with Downs to give the Buckeyes an elite pairing of safeties in the back middle of their defense.

    Ransom was rock-solid for the first two months of the 2023 season, giving the Buckeyes consistent play as both a tackler and a cover safety until he suffered a season-ending injury in the final game of October against Wisconsin. His presence was missed in both the run and pass game late in the season when he was sidelined.

    While Ohio State would have potentially had to consider moving Ransom to free safety if it didn’t add a FS through the portal, the addition of Downs allows Ransom to stay in his natural position. That said, both of them offer plenty of interchangeability as linchpins patrolling the middle of the field.
     
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  7. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  8. OSUBasketballJunkie

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  9. OSUBasketballJunkie

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    CORNERBACKS (9)
    Returning Starters: Denzel Burke, Davison Igbinosun, Jordan Hancock
    Other Returners: Jermaine Mathews Jr., Calvin Simpson-Hunt, Lorenzo Styles Jr.
    Newcomers: Aaron Scott Jr. (Freshman), Bryce West (Freshman), Miles Lockhart (Freshman)
    Departures: Jyaire Brown, Ryan Turner

    With a standout trio of returning starters and lots of young talent on the depth chart behind them, cornerback is the most loaded position on Ohio State’s 2024 roster.

    Burke, Igbinosun and Hancock were already a top-notch trio last season. Mathews was very impressive in spot duty as a true freshman and would likely be starting anywhere else in the country this year. Simpson-Hunt and Styles should also be ready to contribute as needed in 2024 after a year of development. Scott and West might not be needed to play as freshmen but have high upside to be future stars for the Buckeyes.


    SAFETIES (9)
    Returning Starters: Lathan Ransom, Sonny Styles
    Other Returners: Malik Hartford, Ja’Had Carter, Jayden Bonsu, Cedrick Hawkins
    Newcomers: Caleb Downs (Transfer), Jaylen McClain (Freshman), Leroy Roker (Freshman)

    Downs will unquestionably slot into the starting lineup after earning national freshman of the year honors at Alabama in 2023, pairing with Ransom to form what could be college football’s top starting safety tandem. The addition of Downs paired with Ransom’s return and Ohio State’s move to a three-cornerback lineup could precipitate Styles’ move from safety to linebacker.

    Hartford and Carter would have both been candidates for starting jobs if Ransom had left or Ohio State didn’t add Downs, so they give up the Buckeyes a strong pair of backups.

    The depth behind them is a question mark, as neither Bonsu nor Hawkins played any snaps in 2023. But the top of the safety depth chart is elite now that Downs is a Buckeye.
     
  10. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  11. OSUBasketballJunkie

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    OUTSIDE CORNERBACK
    1. Denzel Burke
    2. Calvin Simpson-Hunt
    3. Aaron Scott Jr.

    OUTSIDE CORNERBACK
    1. Davison Igbinosun
    2. Jermaine Mathews Jr.
    3. Bryce West

    SLOT CORNERBACK
    1. Jordan Hancock
    2. Lorenzo Styles Jr.
    3. Miles Lockhart

    Burke, Igbinosun and Hancock are all returning starters from last season, forming what should be the nation’s best starting trio of cornerbacks in 2024.

    Even with all of them back, Mathews is a strong candidate to earn some playing time in the rotation after excelling in spot duty as a true freshman. Simpson-Hunt should also be on the two-deep after impressing coaches in his first year, though Scott and West have the talent to push him as freshmen.

    Burke said before the Cotton Bowl that Styles had been practicing at nickel, where he’s likely to be Hancock’s top backup after taking a redshirt in his first year as a Buckeye.

    FREE SAFETY
    1. Caleb Downs
    2. Malik Hartford
    3. Cedrick Hawkins

    STRONG SAFETY
    1. Lathan Ransom
    2. Ja’Had Carter
    3. Jayden Bonsu

    While Downs played primarily as a strong safety at Alabama, he told reporters this week that Ohio State’s coaches have told him he will play the adjuster/free safety spot. That enables Ransom to continue playing his natural position of strong safety.

    Assuming Styles moves to linebacker, Hartford and Carter would be the next men up in one order or the other behind the starters at safety. Hawkins and Bonsu, the only other returning scholarship safeties on the roster, did not see any playing time as true freshmen.
     
  12. OSUBasketballJunkie

    OSUBasketballJunkie Proud to be a Buckeye Staff Member

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  13. OSUBasketballJunkie

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  14. OSUBasketballJunkie

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  15. OSUBasketballJunkie

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