Cornerback Sevyn Banks makes most of first start for Ohio State football

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State defensive end Chase Young is one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy that is awarded to the nation’s top defensive player. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Sevyn Banks said he didn’t have butterflies before his first career start last week against Rutgers.

Coaches held out Damon Arnette against Rutgers to give the senior cornerback a week to allow his broken wrist to heal more for Ohio State’s stretch run, which begins Saturday against Penn State.

Banks got his first start and played well against the Scarlet Knights.

“I wasn't nervous at all really because we prepare for this in practice,” the sophomore from Orlando, Florida, said Wednesday night. “We do game-like reps all the time, so when I got in the game there wasn't any pressure.”

It helps that Ohio State has routed every opponent so far, allowing backups like Banks and Cam Brown to get plenty of snaps this season. The fact that Banks has to cover first-team receivers in practice has also sped up the learning curve.

“I feel like we got the best receivers in the Big Ten or in the country,” he said. “They help us a lot, actually, so we're not going in blind.”

Senior receiver K.J. Hill has noticed the improvement in Banks.

“I feel like from the start to right now he’s gained confidence in himself and his game,” he said. “Sevyn has come a long way. I feel like if any of the starters go down he could step in and there wouldn't be any drop-off. He's playing at a high level also on special teams.”

Banks is likely headed for a bigger role next year. Arnette is a senior and Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade are eligible to enter the NFL draft, where they’d likely go early.

Banks doesn’t want to look too far ahead just yet. But he knows the opportunity will be there if his improvement continues.

Young up for award

Defensive end Chase Young has been named one of five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to college football’s best defensive player.

Young, who will return Saturday against Penn State from a two-game suspension related to an improper loan, leads the country in sacks per game (1.69). His total of 13½ sacks is tied for second nationally despite missing the Maryland and Rutgers games.

Young is second nationally in tackles for loss with 15½. The junior is the leader of a Buckeyes defense that ranks first nationally in several categories, including scoring defense (9.8 points per game) and yardage allowed (216.4).

Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Georgia safety J.R. Reed, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. are the other finalists.

Young is the fourth Ohio State player to be a Nagurski finalist. James Laurinaitis won the award in 2006. The Nagursky Trophy banquet is Dec. 9 in Charlotte, N.C. Ohio State coach Ryan Day is the keynote speaker.

Earlier Wednesday, Day was named one of 22 semifinalists for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year.