“Ohio State is occasionally the forgotten school in the “DBU” conversation. Some fail to realize that at least one Buckeyes defensive back has been selected in each of the last six NFL Drafts. In that same span, there have been six selected in the first round. What’s even more impressive? Current Buckeye Jeffrey Okudah might be the best of them all.”
OSU has produced ridiculous cornerback talent over the past few years. Denzel Ward and Marshon Lattimore, both already NFL Pro Bowlers in their young careers, are the best recent examples. Jeffrey Okudah may already be near their level. His physical gifts were never in question, Okudah has a blend of size and speed that very few cornerbacks can match and that speed pops in game. He passes the eye test with flying colors, not only with his physical profile, but his coverage ability as well. The only thing he didn’t have was interceptions. Now he’s leading the NCAA with 3.
After finally breaking his goose egg last week against Miami (Ohio), Okudah has a taste for the ball that isn’t going away. He nabbed two against Nebraska, one making a great play on the ball and showing off his elite speed by making a diving pick from behind the receiver, and the other showing off his concentration by catching a tipped ball while on his back. He has the first multi interception game for OSU since, who else, Marshon Lattimore did it in 2016.
NFL analysts are taking note of Okudah’s new production as he rockets up draft boards. Matthew Valdodvinos of PFN has Okudah firmly CB 1, and 6 overall for the 2020 draft, with the potential to move into the top 3. The Athletics Dane Brugler already has him number 3 overall. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has Okudah at 5th, and Chris Trapasso of CBS has him 6th, showing Okudah is a near consensus top 10 pick in 2020.
Okudah credits new DB coach Jeff Hafley for a lot of his success. In Okudah’s post game press conference he had high praise, saying “He’s [Hafley] someone that has changed my whole career, from the perspective that I see the football game. He’s made me such a better player and I can’t thank him enough for that.” The defense overall has been stunning under new coordinators Hafley and Mattison, and the effect has been no more pronounced than with Okudah.
DE Zach Harrison, WR Garrett Wilson, OC Harry Miller, and RB Marcus Crowley have all officially used a year of eligibility.
4 freshman Buckeyes are no longer redshirt eligible, with a few more on the cusp according to OSU’s official participation report. In addition to the 4 mentioned above, LB Craig Young and WR Jameson Williams have seen 4 games of action, which means they cannot play again if they want to retain their year of eligibility. This is year 2 of the new NCAA rule that allows players to play 4 games and still redshirt.
It’s good to see the 5 star recruits of the 2019 class all getting consistent game action. Wilson has 8 catches for 77 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year, as well as 2 punt returns for 54 yards. Wilson has looked good, especially as a red zone threat. Harrison has also established himself as a presence on defense, logging the second most snaps of all DE’s against Nebraska according to Eleven Warriors, and has 3 TFL and a sack. Miller has seen a handful of snaps as well as the only back up to Josh Meyers. Finally, the last of the players that have crossed that eligibility line, Marcus Crowley, has 15 carries for 102 yards and also has a receiving touchdown to his name.
Of the 4 players, I’m a bit disappointed to see Crowley use up a year of eligibility. Running back is a deep position for the Buckeyes at the moment, but the 2020 class has zero running backs as of now. With Dobbins and Teague killing it at the RB spot, and Demario McCall still nominally a running back, it seems a bit of a waste to use up the former 4 star with Dobbins most likely gone after this year. Steele Chambers, the other freshman RB, has appeared in three games as well, so not much more time for him if OSU wants to keep him an extra year.
For the two players at the decision point, I would be somewhat surprised to see them cross into the 5 game territory. Jameson Williams has 2 catches for 74 yards and a score already, but the OSU receiver room is stacked right now, and it doesn’t seem prudent to have the 4th highest rated player of 2019’s class cross off a year of eligibility in mop up duty only. Craig Young has also been solely special teams player, and didn’t play against Nebraska, possibly a sign that he is done for the year.
Junior running back J.K. Dobbins wears the No. 2 jersey for Ohio State and is No. 2 in the nation in rushing through five weeks of the season.
J.K. Dobbins is off to a fantastic start in the third and possibly final year of his OSU career. He has been nigh unstoppable, averaging 7.1 yards per carry and has 6 total touchdowns, 5 rushing. Dobbins was very vocal about how disappointed he was in his sophomore year performance, despite going over 1000 yards, and has shown exactly why that is. Along with Fields, Dobbins has given OSU a deadly rushing attack, one that is 3rd in yards, 6th in yards per rush and 4th in touchdowns in the FBS.
Dobbins has gone over 100 yards in three of his 5 games played so far, including his latest 177 effort in OSU’s dismantling of Nebraska. His total of 654 total yards on the season has allowed him to break into the 3,000 yard club at OSU, a list populated by literal legends of the sport. He is 10th on the all time OSU list, and with over half the season left to go Dobbins should comfortably slide into the top 5 all-time. If he can match his freshman total of 1403 (which should almost be expected at this point), he’ll be behind only Ezekiel Elliot and Archie Griffin, and he has a real shot for the number 2 spot.
Dobbins has had nothing but praise for the rest of his team, and has been extremely humble about his performance. He’s given a lot of credit to his offensive line and even the rest of the offense that is taking defensive attention off of him. He called the team “stacked with talent” (from Dave Biddle on Bucknuts) and is adamant that the offense and the run game can be even better. A Buckeye offense that is better than the one we’ve seen through five weeks would be a sight to behold.
Dobbins and the rest of the offense will need to be on point when they face Michigan State’s 4th ranked rush defense that is only allowing 1.86 yards per carry and 55.8 yards a game. An unstoppable force vs. an immovable wall is the match up this Saturday night, and another monster game against this defense would only add to the incredible legacy that J.K. Dobbins has made so far.
As a thought experiment to leave you with, would you readers rather have OSU’s 1s or 2s? That’s Justin Fields and Jeff Okudah vs. J.K. Dobbins and Chase Young. Sophie’s Choice, OSU edition.
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