Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
Today’s Question: What Ohio State player do most want to see break out in the Spring Game?
Jami’s Take: Cameron Martinez
Much has been written about Ohio State’s lack of depth in the secondary, and injuries during Spring Football haven’t helped.
With Lathan Ransom as the only starting safety returning this fall, we need to see some other guys step up (and to be honest, the unit as a whole needs to level up).
Many of us, myself included, hoped Ja’Had Carter, the Syracuse transfer, would play a key role in adding some depth to OSU’s secondary, but after a knee injury earlier this month at the Student Appreciation Day scrimmage, we won’t have the opportunity to see Carter go off in the Spring Game like I had initially hoped.
Not to worry — because there’s someone else ready to step up to the plate Saturday, and I’m excited for him to finally have his moment.
Fourth-year safety Cameron Martinez, who has been picking up the first-team reps at safety in the wake of Carter’s injury, has seemingly answered the call.
After Martinez got tangled up with Michigan wideout Cameron Johnson in The Game, a slip-up that led to a critical 75-yard Wolverine touchdown, Martinez has something to prove. He seems ready to do just that this Saturday.
I’m rooting for Martinez, not just because it would be good for the team to have some much-needed playmaking at safety, but because I love someone who rises to the challenge. So far this Spring, Martinez has done just that.
Going into the spring, he knew he needed to focus on consistency and confidence. His coaches seem to be pleased with what he’s accomplished.
Ryan Day has said over and over again that starting spots are not guaranteed for transfers when they make the decision to come to Columbus, and while Carter looked poised to start in the fall, Martinez is fighting tooth and nail to earn that spot, regardless of Carter’s injury status.
Certainly, NO ONE is wishing for Carter to remain injured (we do not wish that on our worst enemies), and if Carter is the best man for the job come fall, by all means, he should get it. But watching Martinez get a little fire in him this spring has been delightful, and it gives me hope for what’s to come.
Last week in particular, Martinez really stepped up in Carter’s absence, coming up with some huge plays in last Friday’s morning session. First, he picked off a Kyle McCord pass thrown into double coverage, and then later covered Marvin Harrison Jr. so well it forced a Devin Brown incompletion with the first-team offense. To summarize, he was a playmaker.
Matt’s Take: Denzel Burke
My pick is a bit on the sentimental side and a bit on the on-field necessity side. As Jami referenced, the Ohio State secondary was a bit of a mess last season, and the cornerbacks were by far the worst offenders. After being named an ESPN Freshman All-American in 2021, Denzel Burke took a noticeable step backward last season when many expected him to carry the unit as CB1.
Part of that was likely due to the fact that he dealt with injuries all season, part of that was likely due to the fact that he was getting used to a new position coach, part of that was likely due to the fact that offensive coordinators were more prepared for him in Year 2. And while all of those explanations are valid, Burke still failed to produce on the field. Though he was often in good coverage position, he was not able to disrupt plays enough last season; and, there were times when he was absolutely burnt toast by some receivers that shouldn’t have been able to get the best of him like that.
Because of all of this, Burke took a lot of heat from Buckeye fans; thoughtful criticism was warranted, but much of the venomous vitriol was excessive and unnecessary. So, just on a human level, I am rooting for the dude to not only get back to his 2022 form, but to improve and help return the OSU secondary to the BIA form that it once had.
But beyond that, the Buckeyes really need the corners to be much, much stronger this year than they were a season ago. Fortunately, word out of spring camp is that Burke, Jordan Hancock, and transfer Davison Igbinosun have been pretty impressive leading the CB room. While that obviously doesn’t guarantee success in the fall — especially if the top three corners get injured in fall camp for the second year in a row — but it certainly is a step in the right direction.
I am optimistic that we will see some of that progress on display in The Shoe tomorrow and that Denzel Burke will be lighting things up like we all thought he could as a standout true freshman.
Who has the right answer to today’s question?
This poll is closed
Jami: Cameron Martinez
Matt: Denzel Burke