From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about players to watch this upcoming season. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”Player to Watch” articles here.
After a disappointing 2022 season that saw defensive backs roasted, toasted, and bullied at the catch point, Ohio State’s secondary was in desperate need of bodies, experience, and talent — especially on the outside.
Cam Brown, Ronnie Hickman, and Tanner McCalister all departed for the NFL, leaving cornerback Denzel Burke and safety Lathan Ransom as the only returning full-time starters. Other DBs, including Josh Proctor, Cam Martinez, Jordan Hancock, and Jyaire Brown received reps and/or filled in as a spot starter at some point last year but failed to inspire much confidence heading into the offseason.
So Ryan Day, Tim Walton, and Perry Eliano got aggressive in the transfer portal, something OSU fans had long been advocating for. Enter Davison Igbinosun.
BREAKING: Former Ole Miss CB Davison Igbinosun tells me he has Committed to Ohio State!— Hayes Fawcett (@Hayesfawcett3) January 31, 2023
The 6’2 185 CB from Union, NJ will have 3 years of eligibility remaining.
One of the top overall players in the transfer portalhttps://t.co/dqMwRCMN8F pic.twitter.com/KhscSFjFGR
Igbinosun, a 2022 Freshman All-American while playing for Ole Miss, put his name into the portal on Jan. 18 (2023), was contacted by Ohio State roughly a week later, and signed with the Buckeyes on Jan. 31. His commitment gave OSU secondary a much-needed infusion of talent and experience, at a CB position where the staff had many questions but very few answers.
The team’s safety room at least had players such as Proctor, Martinez, and Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter to fall back on, with 82 total appearances between them — not to mention five-star sensation Sonny Styles. Their CB group, on the other hand, “boasted” Burke, Hancock, Brown, and not much else, at least in terms of experience.
Interestingly enough, Igbinosun could have been playing in Columbus all this time (2022 included) if it were only up to him. As a four-star recruit out of New Jersey, he had serious interest in playing for Ohio State, even calling it the place he wanted to be since he was a kid. But for whatever reason, OSU never made a real effort to land him, which is frustrating if you look at the Buckeyes’ 2022 (defensive) recruiting class. However, I am not here to reopen old wounds. Igbinosun is wearing scarlet and gray now, and the present is all that matters.
The former Ole Miss Rebel was one of the top transfers available this offseason, and it is easy to see why. Listed at 6-foot-2, 185-200 pounds depending on where you look, Igbinosun boasts impressive physical traits and Power Five starting experience. Even better, he was bringing three years of eligibility to whichever school landed his services. And on top of everything else, Igibinosun also earned academic honors at Ole Miss. Seemingly the total package, on-field and off.
Igbinosun registered 37 total tackles as a true freshman, showing both an ability to wrap up (nice for certain November rivalry games) and a willingness to get his hands dirty. Those same hands were unable to come down with an interception in 2022, but Igbinosun was credited with five pass breakups and generally held opposing wide receivers in check.
College Football News named him one of their Freshman All-Americans, and once in the portal, 247Sports ranked him as the No. 4 transfer CB available. They (247) also recognized Igbinosun as the 17th most impactful transfer of the entire offseason.
Now Igbinosun will compete for Ohio State’s starting CB role opposite Burke, and evidence points toward him being the early frontrunner. He has been one of the team’s standout players this spring, consistently garnering praise and performing especially well in practice. And he literally stands out among his peers, providing the size OSU has not had at their CB position since Jeff Okudah, a player Igbinosun has referenced and been complimentary of on multiple occasions. The latter is listed at 6-foot-2, but I am dubious to say the least. He looks more like a strong safety.
Fortunately, Igbinosun has high-end CB skills trapped inside that safety-esque body. His game is not predicated on “bully ball”. Sure, he can body opposing wide receivers, but he is also more than capable of turning and running with them.
Almost a great catch by Carnell Tate, but Davison Igbinosun breaks up the play pic.twitter.com/UuwtK4jj51— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) April 1, 2023
It remains to be seen if Igbinousun will lock down a starting CB job in the fall, but things seem to be trending in that direction. The physical tools are all there, his experience gives him an advantage over other Buckeyes, and his alpha, business-like attitude may ultimately be the deciding factor. Igbinosun is definitely a player to watch for the Buckeyes and don’t be surprised if he is in the CB1 conversation sooner rather than later.