Damon Arnette apparently has picked up this preseason where he left off in the spring, when he established himself as the man to beat for the open cornerback spot in the Ohio State defensive backfield.
There has been no announcement to that effect, but receivers Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor shared their opinions after practice on Thursday when asked which cornerbacks were distinguishing themselves.
“Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette, those are the best two by far going against them every day,” Mack said. “Me and Damon always have a little competition.”
Video | Ohio State receiver Austin Mack talks about cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette.
Victor added: “Both of them are great competitors and I love going against them. It just gets me better, and I hope I get them better.”
The Buckeyes’ two starting corners last year, Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, were selected in the first round of the NFL draft. But cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs has said he considers Ward a returning starter, because he took part in roughly the same amount of plays as Lattimore and Conley. In essence, there was one starting job up for grabs.
Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade, both highly rated incoming freshmen, and junior-college transfer Kendall Sheffield drew much of the attention in the spring. But Arnette, a third-year sophomore who often played as a nickel back last season, appeared to stand out consistently.
“He’s working on his craft every day. He’s becoming more sure,” Mack said Thursday. “With Marshon and Gareon gone, it’s his time and he has to be ready for anything.”
Buckeyes No. 2
Alabama was ranked No. 1 and Ohio State No. 2 in the coaches’ preseason poll, compiled by USA Today. The top five was rounded out by No. 3 Florida State, which plays Alabama in its opener, No. 4 Southern California and No. 5 Clemson, the defending national champion.
While the Crimson Tide was the only team from the Southeastern Conference in the top 10, the Big Ten boasted four teams, including No. 6 Penn State and No. 9 Michigan, both from the East Division along with OSU, and No. 10 Wisconsin from the West. No other Big Ten teams made the top 25.
K’Vaughan Pope, a four-star linebacker prospect from Dinwiddie, Virginia, will announce his college choice Friday at his school. Speculation has been high for a while that he will pick Ohio State over Georgia, and that he would have committed to the Buckeyes a month ago had he been given the green light by coach Urban Meyer and his staff.