For those intrepid souls that have been observing this series on recruiting as it wheezes it's way toward the finish line, you might have noticed a certain trend on defense. That is, each position seems to produce a disproportionate number of NFL players and prospects. Defensive end? Loaded. Linebackers? We are a farm team for the pros. Safeties? Three All-Americans in the last two years alone.
So now we come to cornerbacks and how does that trend stack up? The corners simply blow it away! What a group…
Check out just the past few seasons and gawk at the names now struttin' their stuff in the Big Time:
1. Antoine Winfield
2. Ahmad Plummer
3. Derek Ross (OK, he mouthed off one time too many and they cut him…)
We will add Dustin Fox and Chris Gamble to pay-for-play rosters in the next couple of years. Despite his up-and-down season this past year, I don't think anyone wants to see Gamble leave us prematurely. He needs the one more great season in Columbus to grab the really big first round money. Plus, his high school coach once said Gamble's mom believed Chris would stay for four years and graduate.
As for Fox, he might finish his stint at OSU as one of the best safeties to have never played the position. Yet, he is a very capable CB and I wouldn't mind going into battle next year knowing that Gamble and Fox are our men on the corners.
As for alternatives? We really haven't seen yet the emergence of the EJ Underwood that everyone raved about back in Hamilton. He's coming, though. It's just taken longer than we expected for EJ to pick his way through the crowd. And Donte Whitner is so gifted that he will be All-Everything at either safety or cornerback, although I like him as a hard-hitting corner to close down the speedy guys while making running backs pay.
Who else is lurking on the squad to make some noise at the CB spots? Ashton Youboty might become the main man, after asserting himself as a true freshman and seeing time in big games. Dareus Hiley might be the surprise, as "Superman" can play a number of positions, yet his coach (the venerable Ted Ginn, Sr. from Glenville) told me he is a natural corner – and who am I to argue? We also have Harlen Jacobs coming back for his senior season but this Georgian seems destined for more two-deep or dime looks. And then there is the mysterious Mike Roberts, the Canadian rocket, who has yet to launch himself off the scout squad. And there is also the versatile Tony Gonzalez who can play both WR and CB. Finally, we shouldn't forget Antonio Smith, a freshman walk-on from Columbus Beechcroft and Steven Moore, who will be a senior walk-on next year.
As exciting as the current harvested crop of corners might be, there is excitement brewing out in the fields, as well. The #1 recruited cornerback in the nation is Ted Ginn, Jr. TG can also play wide receiver but he seems like a perfect athletic CB. Indications are also strong that Nick Patterson could end up here ("here" being both tOSU and cornerback). And Devon Lyons has visited and maybe Terrail Lambert. And now Trevor Ford says he wants back in on the auction action.
Wait! Wait! I almost forgot – we have already landed a pretty good-looking crew for the next class! Yes, there's Shaun Lane and Brandon Underwood and DaJuan Morgan might even play out there on the island.
So let's take a moment to sort it all out…
Gamble and Fox are the odds-on starters next year. No matter how much we want Fox to move to safety and no matter how much Gamble wants to move to the NFL, the odds are that they will both be where they were this year. And if they are not (or let's call it the "two deep"…)? From a group of Youboty, Whitner and EJ Underwood, you have…well, a pretty good group! If Hiley isn't a receiver, put him in that group, as well.
The class breakdown is as follows (all in projected 2004 eligibility status):
Dustin Fox – Senior
Chris Gamble – Senior
Harlen Jacobs – Senior
EJ Underwood - Junior
Mike Roberts – Sophomore
Ashton Youboty – Sophomore
Donte Whitner – Sophomore
Dareus Hiley – Freshman
Ted Ginn* - Freshman
Shaun Lane – Freshman
Tony Gonzalez – Freshman
Brandon Underwood – Freshman
DaJuan Morgan – Freshman
·(You know the caveat here…)
You could surmise that we are heavy on the younger corners. You would be right if you did.
Dr. Recrutnik sez…We will get Ginn and only take another All-World candidate (Devon Lyons, Nick Patterson and Terrail Lambert might be too good to pass up. First one in?). Plus, the coaches love speedy hard-hitting corners for special teams and for the nickels and dimes. Lastly, we've got some good homegrown talent developing in Ohio next year (examples are Brad Jones from Canton McKinley, Brandon Harrison from Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Marcus Council from Akron Garfield and Brian Williams from Akron Buchtel amongst others. All four of those CB's are rated in the top twenty – overall - in the class!).
Let's save some room and move on…
E-mail Mr., er, Dr. Recruitnik at email@example.com