July 13, 2012
Safeties return experience, depth to Ohio State D
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With Ohio State's fall camp a month away from kicking off, we at Buckeye Grove have decided to take a look at the roster that Urban Meyer will be working with in his first year as Ohio State's head coach. Today, we'll take a look at the current state of the Buckeyes' safeties. You can see yesterday's preview of the Ohio State cornerbacks by clicking here.
No position on the Ohio State roster returns more experience in 2012 than the safety position. Three players- all upperclassmen- return with starting experience in the Buckeyes' secondary, and all could find themselves on the field at the same time in coach Urban Meyer's inaugural season in Columbus.
Returning as the Buckeyes' starting strong safety is fourth-year junior C.J. Barnett. At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, Barnett led Ohio State in tackles in 2011, racking up 75 tackles- one of which came for a loss- in addition to recording two interceptions, six pass breakups, and eight passes defended.
The Dayton, Ohio native said that he's excited to for the opportunity to play for Meyer in his final two seasons at Ohio State.
"I knew he was a winner and that really matters to me," Barnett said. "He has two championships and you can't argue with that and I want to be a part of that and I want to win a championship so hopefully I can my senior year."
Backing up Barnett heading into fall camp is fifth-year senior Orhian Johnson. A two-year starter in his time at OSU, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Johnson is capable of playing either safety position, and compiled 32 tackles, three interceptions, one pass breakup, and four passes defended as a part-time starter in 2011.
While Johnson is listed as a back-up on the depth chart, he could see significant playing time in 2012 due to the flexibility of starting free safety Christian Bryant.
A starter for a part of 2011, Bryant tallied 68 tackles, eight pass breakups, and eight passes defended in his sophomore season. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Cleveland native has already seen significant playing time throughout his Ohio State career at both safety and the Buckeyes' star position, which plays closer to the line of scrimmage. Should defensive coordinator Luke Fickell decide to use Bryant at the star again, it could pave the way for Johnson to reinsert himself into the OSU line-up.
Backing up Bryant on the OSU depth chart is fourth-year junior Corey Brown. The 6-foot-1, 197-pound Brown has played sparingly in his first three seasons in Columbus, accumulating just four tackles while primarily playing special teams in 2011.
Other safeties hoping to crack the Ohio State depth chart this season include a trio of veterans and a duo of true freshmen.
Fifth-year senior Zach Domicone has primarily played special teams during his Ohio State career and recorded 10 tackles and one fumble recovery in 2011. Similarly, fourth-year junior Jamie Wood is yet to see significant playing time in his college career and he recorded four tackles in 13 games a season ago. Redshirt freshman Ron Tanner, a former three-star recruit, is entering his first season of action for the Buckeyes.
Newcomers to this year's Buckeye secondary include Devan Bogard and Najee Murray. Bogard is a 6-foot, 175-pound four-star recruit out of Cleveland, Ohio, while Murray is a 5-foot-1, 172-pound four-star recruit from Steubenville, Ohio. Given the lack of experience behind the Buckeyes' starters, both could find themselves on the Ohio State depth chart by the end of the season.
Rounding out the OSU secondary is walk-on Nik Sarac.
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