Safeties in numbers? Or just sheer numbers of safeties?
You know, we went on and on about our current and past blessings here at the Ohio State University at certain other positions. We have had a plethora (go ahead and look it up – it's a real word) of wide receivers. And great defensive linemen. And linebackers, of course. But before we even get to the remarkable success we have had at cornerback, we have to reflect wistfully on the great collection of safeties we have enjoyed watching perform here at OSU.
Did we have two good ones last year in Michael Doss and Donnie Nickey? I guess so – they are both playing this year in the NFL! And in years past – all the way back from Mike Sensibaugh and Jack Tatum – we have seen other great scarlet and gray assassins such as Rob Kelly and Damon Moore ply their trade in Columbus.
We are seeing the emergence of the next great crop right before our eyes right here in the present tense. As good as Will Allen has performed (look up "heroics" in your Buckeye encyclopedia and Will is on many of those pages…), Nate Salley should be a Truly Great One before he leaves the school. I will insist (once again) that the other great safety on this team in Dustin Fox and he has only one more year to prove it! Dustin is so good that he plays a high-level cornerback position, as well, even though that's not his natural position. If Fox is at corner next season, that will make six straight years we have had a great defensive back play average in another position. You do all remember Stevie, now don't you?
And if Fox stays out on the corner, you will still see yet another great safety: Donte Whitner. Donte is so gifted that "Lights Out" can play either safety or corner and excel, as well as being the perfect guy in those nickel and dime packages.
And there's more. There's the surprising emergence of Tyler Everett, whose sure tackling ensures he will be in the two-deep and in those nickel/dime packages, as well. The surprise name? Don't forget about the natural gifts of Ira Guilford. He burned a red-shirt year because we needed him at running back. Next year, we don't. In my opinion, he should take that year off then (red shirt year, that is…) and come back in 2005 as a great safety.
And as much as Guilford and Everett emerged this season, what happened to the darkened star of Brandon Mitchell? He was the odds-on starter at safety before the season began and then fell off the face of the earth. I predict we will hear from this fine athlete a lot – starting in the spring game 2004.
Who else do we have to reckon with at the safety slot? Not many. Curt Lukens and Thomas Matthews have been listed as safeties on some rosters but they are – in actuality – aspiring outside linebackers. Soon-to-be senior walk-on Rob Harley is a safety but unlikely to see much action.
Thus, the roles are a bit depleted. Sequentially, they look like this as of next year:
Nate Salley – Sophomore
Tyler Everett – Junior
Donte Whitner – Sophomore
Brandon Mitchell – Sophomore
Ira Guilford – Sophomore
So, you have 5 of your 2-deep that are young guys. And who is coming on behind them?
Shaun Lane was one of the early commits this year although they are talking about Lane as either a kick-returner (and, man, we need help there!) or even a running back. Another multi-purpose weapon is Dajuan Morgan who has played QB, CB, and WR but told us he loves to hit and can see himself as an OSU safety. Also, we have Sirjo Seph Welch, who looks to be coming to Columbus as a "pure" safety.
So we are stacked. And stacked with quality.
And who are we still looking at for the future classes?
1. Randy Estes. Well, kinda. Here's a kid who just got thrown out of the high school he transferred into this year in California for (allegedly) selling (allegedly) high grade pot. He is the #1 safety prospect in the country and he was (allegedly) looking at the Buckeyes. He will eventually give someone else a black eye, but it might not be at the collegiate level next year.
2. Devon Lyons. The Pittsburgh product lists OSU along with Miami, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Would be a good pick-up.
3. SirDarean Adams. We need this kid because he will make a great safety bookend for Sirjo Seph Welch. Plus, he's big (6'1" and 210) and skilled and can play running back. He's also looking at a lot of other schools.
4. Nick Patterson. Nick's stock goes up and down like a high tech start-up. The Missouri DB still mentions OSU but with a lot of other names. He is visiting so we will get a close look.
5. Anthony Reddick. A Ft. Lauderdale kid who is high on the Buckeyes and whom the Bucks allegedly offered.
6. Terrail Lambert. He's on the list because he is everybody's DB list. This Californian does not seem to be destined to be a Buckeye.
As for next year in the great state of Ohio, we have Jamario O'Neal already committed (as long as he doesn't commit anything else prior…) and that's saying a lot. He might be a Top Ten kid in the nation next year. The other great Glenville name to ponder (next year) is the athletic Freddie Lennix. At his speed (4.4) and his size (5'11" and 200) he might defy the trends and move from LB to S.
Dr. Recruitnik sez…We are blessed, truly blessed, for years to come at the safety position. Nickey and Doss were All-Americans last year, Will Allen was this year, and Dustin Fox could be next year. Plus, the Salleys and Whitners and Guilfords waiting in the wings are of the same high caliber.
We have plenty coming in but we won't pass on Lyons, Adams or Lambert (because they can also play other positions). If we whiff on all three, we'll wait until next year to take the best possible name in the country that goes along with Jamario O'Neal.
Hey – remember Prescott Burgess who said he would only play safety? Michigan already moved him to linebacker, just like everyone said. My feeling is: you can always tell a linebacker, you just can't tell him much…
To express your feelings of exasperation, support or disdain for any of the above, please contact Dr. Recruitnik's patron – Mr. Bucknuts – at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com