“He’s really a very, very good NFL prospect. He’ll be a very good corner in the NFL.”
-Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano on cornerback Denzel Ward via Patrick Murphy, Bucknuts
Denzel Ward shouldn’t have to wait too long to hear his name called tonight in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Ward will join Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Gareon Conley as recent Ohio State defensive backs taken in the draft’s first round.
When Greg Schiano came to Ohio State in 2015, he knew he the Buckeyes had a special NFL prospect in Ward. Despite dealing with a wrist injury, Ward was Ohio State’s third starter at cornerback, and tied for the team-lead with nine pass breakups. With Lattimore and Conley moving on to the NFL following the 2016 season, Ward was able to make an even bigger name for himself in 2017.
Ward lived up to the hype last season, registering 15 pass breakups, which ranked in the Top 10 in the country. After a strong junior season, Ward bolstered his draft stock by running a 4.32 40-yard dash, tying for the fastest time at the NFL Draft Combine. Being able to learn and grow under defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, along with his on-field skills, have set expectations high for what Ward could do in the NFL.
The only real downside to Ward for some scouts, who stands at 5-foot-11, is his size, but he is still only an inch shorter than Lattimore and Conley. Even with being a little smaller than your prototypical corner, many teams are high on Ward. There is talk the cornerback could be taken as high as fifth in the draft, and even if he falls, Ward shouldn’t last longer than the late teens.
“Now that we know each other, we have got to go, and we have to roll our sleeves up and make sure we are on the same page. We have to work even harder than what we did this spring. We got after it this spring, in the meeting rooms, out at practice and things like that, now we have to multiply that by like 15.”
As if replacing cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs wasn’t hard enough, new cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson also has to replace Denzel Ward, who will likely go in the first round of tonight’s NFL Draft. At least Johnson does have a bit of a leg up, as he’ll have veterans Kendall Sheffield and Damon Arnette coming back to lean on.
With the way Ohio State likes to rotate cornerbacks, Johnson is going to need a couple more of the younger Buckeyes to step up at cornerback to fill the void. Jeffrey Okudah already started to assert himself last season, and was leaned on heavily in the Rose Bowl against USC, as he was on the field for 62 snaps.
Okudah missed spring practice due to shoulder surgery, which allowed Shaun Wade and Marcus Williamson to state their case for playing time in 2018. Wade made some noise during the spring game, as his interception of Tate Martell was the only turnover of the game.
Freshmen Tyreke Johnson and Sevyn Banks also impressed coaches during spring practices with how quickly they were able to pick up in a short amount of time. If Johnson and Banks are able to continue the growth they showed during the spring game, Ohio State could see a couple more cornerbacks drafted high in the NFL down the line.
“I thought the final home match was the last time, but it’s good. I’m glad to be at St. John and have one last chance (to play here).”
If Ohio State’s men’s volleyball team wants to win their third national title in a row, they’ll first have to take care of business against King University in a play-in game tonight at St. John Arena. The winner of tonight’s matchup will move on to face UC-Irvine in Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
With the West Coast Conference splitting into two this year, the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament expanded from six teams to seven, meaning a play-in game is now necessary. Despite being the fifth seed out of the seven teams, the Buckeyes have been forced into the play-in game because it is cheaper for King University, which is located in Bristol, Tennessee, to drive to Columbus than to fly to Boston to take on Harvard, which is the sixth-seeded team.
Despite money being the reason Ohio State has to play in tonight’s play-in game, the Buckeyes are trying to find some positives about the contest. After winning the national championship the last two seasons, the Buckeyes have seen a lot of their roster from those national title teams graduate. Tonight’s game will give the Buckeyes a chance to gain some NCAA Tournament experience without having to leave home.
After being the favorite heading into last year’s NCAA Tournament, Ohio State is an underdog this year heading into the tournament. The role, along with feeling slighted by the NCAA for having to compete in tonight’s play-in game, could be just what the Buckeyes need to light a fire under the team and lead Ohio State to a three-peat.
After the conclusion of the winter Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings, Ohio State sits in fourth place, behind Stanford, Penn State, and Michigan, and just in front of North Carolina State. After the final fall standings were released, Ohio State sat in a tie for 65th place, but a strong winter sports showing saw the Buckeyes rocket up the standings.
Ohio State’s rise during the winter was highlighted by a second-place finish by the wrestling team, along with third-place by the men’s and women’s ice hockey teams and the fencing team. The rifle team and men’s gymnastics teams finished in seventh-place, while the women’s gymnastics team finished in 13th place.
Ohio State totaled 730.75 Directors Cup points during the winter, to bring their total for the year to 830.75 points. While Stanford has jumped out to a huge lead with 1,104 Directors Cup points, the Buckeyes are still within striking distance of Big Ten foes Penn State and Michigan, who currently have 889.25 and 881.50 Directors Cup points, respectively. Ohio State should be able to make up even more ground as the Buckeyes are one of seven teams left alive for the national title in men’s volleyball.
STICK TO SPORTS
- 16-Bit Bar+Arcade is opening a second location this summer at Dublin’s Bridge Park.
- The Short North Trolley Company will open for business next month.
- Scene 75, an indoor entertainment company, has purchased the former Macy’s space at Tuttle Mall.
- Nickelodeon is bringing back Double Dare this summer.
- Where to find specials on National Pretzel Day.