Can the Buckeyes get back to having an elite defensive backfield? That is a question that could be answered this spring.
For the first time in quite of few years the Buckeyes will have some experience in the defensive backfield. Jordan Fuller and Jeffrey Okudah are probably a lock to have starting positions in 2019. The second cornerback position is one of the biggest question marks in the defensive backfield. Even though Damon Arnette is returning for his senior season he will have to battle a hard-hitting sophomore in Shaun Wade. Wade showed flashes in the Michigan game and in the Rose Bowl last season. However, with Arnette being the veteran and knowing what it takes to be a starter. This will make it quite an interesting position battle that could go well past spring ball into fall camp.
The other position battle in the defensive backfield is the safety position opposite side of Jordan Fuller. With Brendon White rumored to be taking snaps at the hybrid linebacker position, that opens up opportunities for Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint. Both Pryor and Wint have a lot of game experience. Pryor battled through injuries in 2018 and was inconsistent in pass coverage. Wint may have game experience, but struggled to stay on the field due to poor play at times.
Their are some underclassmen and highly recruited defensive backs that can make a push to get on the field in 2019.
Josh Proctor was a four-star safety and ranked No. 71 nationally coming out of the 2018 class. Proctor is another hard-hitting, athletic, sophomore safety who played a lot of special teams last season. Look for him to make a strong push and compete for a starting job in the 2019 season.
Tyreke Johnson was a five-star defensive back from Jacksonville, Florida. Johnson redshirted in 2018 but is very talented and crazy athletic. Johnson can make the defensive backfield better by pushing guys like Arnette, Wade and Okudah in practice. Look for Johnson make a huge impact in 2019.
Marcus Hooker has a lot to prove because his brother, Malik Hooker, was drafted in the first-round of the 2017 NFL Draft and because he spent a few games on the sidelines due to a suspension. Hooker, a three-star redshirt freshman, is a little undersized, but has toughness and grit to compete and see the field in 2019 season.
With the spring football game right around the corner on April 13, 2019 look for first-year head coach Ryan Day have to make tough decisions regarding this position unit. Expect Day to play those he believes can make Ohio State’s defensive backfield elite again.