The Buckeyes will have a lot of tough personnel decisions next season. Aside from the widely publicized quarterback race, there will be a stiff competition for the starting cornerback spot, and potentially the backup slots too.
The illusion that is Armani Reeves
For the past few seasons, the name Armani Reeves has been on preseason watch lists, but he hasn't delivered a standout performance to match.
In 2013, he accounted for 16 solo and 10 assisted tackles, along with one interception. Reeves only played the first half of the Buckeyes 2014 season, but was able to pull off eight solo and four assisted tackles. He missed three games due to an undisclosed injury, but Coach Meyer noted he had "trouble focusing" on a Big Ten teleconference earlier in the season.
Meyer also spoke about Reeves earlier this season, "Armani's a great kid and a heck of a player, an emotional guy and gives us a little spark."
Despite his limited play, former players and fans still have hope that next year, his senior season, will be his best yet.
On whether or not Reeves will get the starting spot next year, former Buckeye cornerback Travis Howard weighed in, "I think they will give Armani a chance to prove himself, but if he doesn't produce then they will let the young buck start."
Speaking of young Bucks...
The secondary started off a little shaky but by mid-season really hit their stride. The mostly young backfield has a lot to learn, but has also showed great promise in their effort containing some of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the nation.
Redshirt freshman Eli Apple is going to give Armani Reeves a run for his money at camp this year; as an incoming five-star recruit and the tallest player at CB, he was on a lot of watch-lists even before the 2014 season. He didn't disappoint either, racking up 33 solo and 20 assisted tackles, and two interceptions his first season on the field.
Apple isn't the only young man making a name for himself at Ohio State, redshirt freshman Gareon Conley was able to contribute 12 solo and four assisted tackles this season, and many consider him to be third in line for the starting spot. Damon Webb, a true freshman, only saw action in a few games this year, but had three solo tackles and showed a lot of potential, as a fellow highly regarded recruit.
When I asked alum Travis Howard what should be specifically addressed this off-season, he was quick to note, "They all are young, so it's more about them getting comfortable with the system and building confidence. I think Apple is going to explode."
One senior could have success in the NFL
With two cornerbacks making their way across the graduation stage, there is one standout that has a great chance to play and succeed as a professional; Doran Grant. As someone the young Buckeyes look up to, Grant accounted for 64 total tackles during the regular and post-season this year, and recorded four interceptions. 2014 was Grant's best season yet, despite his career-high of nine tackles in one game in 2013.
Grant has already impressed coaches in the league with his talent and drive during Senior Bowl practices. I asked former Ohio State cornerback Travis Howard what he thought of Grant's potential to succeed at the next level, he seemed convinced Grant could be a name people get to know, "D Grant has a great work ethic. If he's in the right system, he can emerge as a top CB in the NFL."