Golden Tickets: Doran Grant

Our "Golden Tickets" series continues with Doran Grant, a senior cornerback looking forward to leading a rebuilt secondary into a new season with a different approach from a disastrous 2013.

After Ohio State's April 12 spring game, head coach Urban Meyer pointed to seven players as having spots sewn up on his defense as the team heads into summer workouts. Those seven players earned what we're calling Golden Tickets to start on a defense that has its sights set on returning the Buckeye stop troops to Silver Bullet status. We're profiling each of those seven players as well as taking a look at the remaining position battles in a series this week.

Doran Grant
Position: Cornerback
Height: 5-11
Weight: 193
Hometown/HS:Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary
Previous Stats:In his first season as a full-time starter, Grant finished fifth on the team with 58 tackles. He was second on the squad with 10 pass breakups and tied for second with three interceptions. He also forced a fumble and blocked a kick.

What They're Saying:As the only returning starter in a secondary that was among the worst in school history last season, Grant admits he feels a need to help the Buckeyes redeem themselves this fall.

"Yeah we know what's out there," he said when asked if the defensive backs played the spring game with a chip on their shoulder. "That's what me and Tyvis (Powell) were talking about. It's out there, everybody's questioning the back end and we just felt like we wanted to prove something today."

The new-look secondary (with Powell one of the new starters at safety) passed the look test in the spring game and seemed to improve steadily throughout the 15 spring practices.

They are taking to a more aggressive approach brought by new secondary coach Chris Ash, who is working with cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs to reinvent the Buckeye defense and bring back the days of the Silver Bullets.

As the team's most experienced defensive back, Grant figures to be a key part in the successful implementation of the new attack -- but Coombs stressed nothing was given to him this spring.

Grant confirmed he prefers the in-your-face style the Buckeyes played in the secondary this spring, and his move to the boundary corner position manned most often by Bradley Roby last season seems natural this year.

He still had to prove worthy.

"Well he doesn't have to be (ready)," Coombs said midway through spring. "Here's the reality: somebody has to be. And there is going to be competition because we've got good young players. They're unproven players, so they've got to figure out how to play every day, which is great. We've been challenged by really good receivers all spring long. We're going to have that again in fall camp, and then we're going to line up that first week and they'll have to go play. We've got guys with talent that I think we can play more players and get them out there."

Junior Armani Reeves and redshirt freshmen Gareon Conley and Eli Apple competed for the starting field corner spot throughout spring, and Grant expressed confidence in all of them to do that job. Two of that trio figure to see the field when the Buckeyes go to their nickel package, and Reeves left spring as the No. 1 nickel back or Star.

"I thought Armani had a great spring, especially at that nickel position," Grant said. "He was making plays there and on the outside. He grew up a lot. I'm excited to see what he does in the fall.

"(Conley and Apple) showed a lot this spring. They both made plays. I think they lead the room in interceptions this spring, so they had a very effective spring. I'm looking forward to what they do in the summer time and in fall camp."

As for Grant, spring was about cleaning up technique and playing with confidence after what he described as an average 2013 season for himself.

"I think he was better than average last year and his improvement this year has been dramatic," Coombs said. "I'm excited to see him play. He is a young man with incredible athletic ability. His combine-type numbers are going to match those of the great corners in the country today, and yet at the same time there have been little glitches that have prevented him from achieving the success those numbers would indicate, and really that's my job. So we've spent a lot of time this offseason exploring all of the techniques and different things that are hopefully going to help him improve, and I think he's got a lot of focus and dedication to that and I"m really excited to watch him. He's taken leadership of the room, and I think that's important too."

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