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Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is primed for a breakout season

After impressing in the Rose Bowl, Okudah could position himself to be a high pick in the 2020 NFL Draft with a strong junior season.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“I think I’ve taken a big step mentally. Lot of confidence. Whenever a guy catches a ball, I don’t get too down on myself. It’s part of the game — we play a lot of great players. So just having the confidence out there every single play is healthy. Make plays I don’t really second guess myself.”

Ohio State cornerback Jeffrey Okudah via Colin Hass-Hill, Eleven Warriors

Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah’s sophomore season might have not gone exactly as planned in Columbus, but the highly-touted defensive back from Texas finished the year with his best performance. After getting a spot in the cornerback rotation following the exit of Denzel Ward to the NFL, Okudah and the rest of the cornerbacks struggled for most of the season. Okudah finished the season strong by tying a career-high in tackles and passes deflected in the Rose Bowl win against Washington.

The performance against Washington showed why Okudah was the top-rated quarterback in his recruiting class. Despite having yet to intercept a pass at Ohio State, Okudah has a chance to jump to the NFL with a strong junior year. Another recent Ohio State cornerback who didn’t have an interception entering his junior year but went on to be a first round pick in the NFL Draft is the man Okudah replaced, Denzel Ward.

Okudah’s stock is rising because he can do pretty much everything that is wanted in a NFL cornerback. Even though he doesn’t have an interception to his credit yet, Okudah does a great job at getting his hands on passes and breaking them up. Okudah is also a physical cornerback and can make tackles when called upon.

With a number of changes on the Ohio State defensive coaching staff, Okudah is poised for a breakout junior season. It’s hard to see the secondary of the Buckeyes struggling as much as it did in 2018, and don’t be surprised if Okudah is in the spotlight throughout the season. Okudah has all the tools a cornerback needs, and is starting to put them together, which is scary news for opposing quarterbacks in 2019.

“We know these two games are extremely important for us. I’m not talking about it too much now because I think they know, and the pressure’s already weighing on them.”

Ohio State women’s ice hockey head coach Nadine Muzerall via Griffin Strom, The Lantern

Ohio State’s women’s ice hockey team is looking to get back on track this weekend. The Buckeyes have not only lost five straight games, but they have dropped to ninth in the rankings, which is important since only the top eight teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes will look to right the ship this weekend against St. Cloud State, who is currently last in the WCHA.

Ohio State can’t take St. Cloud State too lightly though, as the Huskies lost both meetings with the Buckeyes in early November by just a goal. Ohio State will have their work cut out for them as they try and slip a few pucks past St. Cloud State goalie Janine Alder, who played for the Swiss national team in the past two Winter Olympics.

The Buckeyes have their own Swiss goalie in Andrea Braendli, but the freshman has struggled of late—allowing 14 goals over her last seven periods. Braendli has a chance to get some of her confidence back against a St. Cloud State attack that is scoring less than two goals per game. Going up against Alder could also provide Braendli with a little extra motivation to snap out of her recent funk.

Following this weekend’s games against St. Cloud State, Ohio State has a pair of games against Bemidji State and Wisconsin left before the WCHA Tournament. With their recent five-game losing streak, the Buckeyes can’t afford to lose many of their remaining games if they want to stay close to a NCAA Tournament bid. A couple of wins this weekend at St. Cloud State would be a good start.