With Ohio State’s season opener at Indiana one week away, at least two position competitions remain unresolved.
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said Wednesday evening that the safety spot opposite Damon Webb remains too close to call between Jordan Fuller and Erick Smith. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said the competition at right guard is a three-person race among Matt Burrell, Branden Bowen and Malcolm Pridgeon.
“They’re both doing very, very well, making the decision very difficult,” Schiano said of the Fuller-Smith competition.
He said it’s possible that the two could rotate until one cements the spot.
“We have some decisions to make,” Schiano said. “I don’t know the answer to that. We’re going to sit down and talk after tomorrow and formulate a plan.”
Smith is a senior safety from Cleveland who has played 162 snaps on defense and more than twice that many plays on special teams. He suffered a torn knee ligament midway through the 2015 season and was a backup in 2016 behind Webb and Malik Hooker. Fuller is a 6-foot-2, 207-pound sophomore from New Jersey.
“Jordan is a taller, rangier guy,” Schiano said. “Erick is probably a little quicker guy. They’re both really good football players, and we’re fortunate to have them both.”
The right guard spot, opened when Billy Price moved to center, has felt like a horse race, with different players seemingly in the lead at different times. It appeared Burrell, a third-year sophomore from Virginia, had the advantage entering camp. Then Pridgeon, who was injured in camp last year and missed the entire season after transferring from junior college, made his move.
Bowen is a third-year sophomore from Utah who had been viewed as primarily as a tackle. But he has drawn praise from both coach Urban Meyer and on Wednesday from Wilson.
A rotation at a position on the offensive line is usually avoided because cohesiveness is so essential among the five linemen, but Wilson said that is a possibility.
“We’ll see how the week of practices goes — if one guy goes the distance or if it’s a little bit of a committee, he said.