Roby Back To Lead Buckeyes

Junior cornerback Bradley Roby has a plan he continues to follow despite last season's accolades. He expects that to pay off both in both a personal and team sense this season, and spring football is offering him a chance to get started on another leg of the journey.

Bradley Roby has already proven he is one of the best cover cornerbacks in college football. After leading the nation in passes defended in 2012, he is out to become one of the best leaders in the game in 2013. That goal brought him back to Ohio State after flirtations with the NFL, something that obviously thrilled his position coach, Kerry Coombs.

"I think it was an outstanding decision, by the way," the ever-excitable Coombs said last week. "I think his stock will do nothing but go up, and I think it helps him down the road. I think next year, or whenever he decides to come out, he's going to be a first-round pick, a top-10 pick, if he really wants to work. He's not there yet."

Roby's decision to return to Ohio State for a third year on the field (and fourth in the program after redshirting in 2010) could turn out to be a seminal moment for the 2013 Buckeyes, but he knows that is not automatic.

He has an important role to play as he continues to develop both himself and his younger teammates, of whom there are many this spring in Columbus.

He is the eldest statesmen in Coombs' meeting room, but there is plenty of promise as four-star true freshmen Eli Apple and Cam Burrows join junior Doran Grant and sophomore Armani Reeves (both four-star prospects as well) along with Roby. Add in junior Adam Griffin and redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell – both of whom have played most or all of their reps at Star during practices open to the media – and there are plenty of bodies but not a lot of games played at cornerback on the roster.

"I just decided it was more important for me to stay and lead this team to greater things than we accomplished last year," Roby said. "The NFL's not going anywhere. I'm not in a rush. As long as God allows me to be healthy this season, everything will still be there in place, most likely better than it was last year. It was a tough decision, but at the end of the day I feel like I made the right one."

Roby also admitted feeling like he is yet to leave the type of legacy at Ohio State that he envisioned when he signed on to be a Buckeye four years ago.

He received All-Big Ten honors and tied the school record for pass breakups in a season with 17 last year, but Roby wants more.

"I came up with a plan a long time ago to be one of the best corners to ever play here, and I don't feel like I've accomplished that yet," he said. "I have to be a better leader first to become that, so that's my next goal."

He has a pragmatic view of what that will mean for the Buckeyes and for him.

"That trait is going to carry me way farther on the football field and off the football field," he said. "I just want to be a better leader and everything else will happen how it's supposed to. If I'm a better leader, the young guys will be better. If the young guys are better, then we're going to be better (as a team). As we're better, we're going to be on TV more. If we're on TV more, I make more plays.

"Everything is going to fall in place once I'm a better leader, so that's what I'm focusing on now."

An under-the-radar recruit who initially committed to Vanderbilt as a receiver, Roby has already gone through plenty of personal growth during his time in Columbus.

Last season, head coach Urban Meyer called him out for letting his mind wander at times, but that is something Roby is less able to get away with now thanks to an improved group of receivers on the other side of the ball for the Buckeyes.

"I had to just learn how to channel and focus in, learn how to think about certain things to get myself focused and ready for practice," Roby said. "I don't know why, but when I get out there and I'm not getting challenged, I'm just kind of out there. All the great players always focus in, so once (Meyer) beat that in my head I realized I can't slack of any time."

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