While head coach Ryan Day sounded less than enthused about the progress of the offensive line at this point in the spring, he had many good things to say about the cornerbacks and the safeties.
“I think we’ve made great strides in the secondary,” Day said Wednesday. “I’ve been very impressed with our corners.”
That includes Denzel Burke, a two-year starter who is looking to overcome a sophomore slump, and Jordan Hancock, whose second season was marred by a hamstring injury.
“I think Denzel is playing his best football right now, but I’m just impressed with his offseason,” Day said. “I’ve been impressed with his approach every day. He’s got his hands on a lot of balls and had a huge interception in the two minute drill the other day.
“Jordan Hancock with a full offseason and now that he’s healthy, now you’re starting to see his potential pop. He came off of that really bad hamstring injury and never was quite himself last year. He’s somebody that we got a lot of excitement around.”
Jyaire Brown, a sophomore from Lakota West, has seen time at cornerback and nickel while Mississippi transfer Davison Igbinosun has had a noticeable impact. Redshirt freshman Ryan Turner and true freshman Jermaine Mathews are coming along as well under the tutelage of former Buckeye Tim Walton, who is in his second season as cornerbacks coach at his alma mater.
“So I mean we’re starting to get a group in there that Tim (Walton) has been able to now spend a year or two with,” Day said. “I think the addition of Davidson and now a year of experience in that group, you’re seeing their hands on a lot more balls and challenging throws, which is really exciting.
At safety, Day name-checked senior Josh Proctor, returning starter Lathan Ransom as having improved while sophomore Sonny Styles is coming on and Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter had a positive impact before suffering a non-long-term injury.
“I don’t know whether he’s going to be available or not on Saturday, but up until that point, he had showed and kind of raised the level of everybody back there,” Day said of Carter. “So it’s year two in the system, we have more experience and a couple added pieces. I’ve been encouraged.”
Day’s description of the offensive line’s development this spring was much more lukewarm.
The group lost three starters, and he was not ready to declare any winners in the races to replace Paris Johnson Jr., Dawand Jones or Luke Wypler.
“I mean, I think we’re not crazy behind,” Day said. “Do I wish we were a little bit further ahead? Yes, I think we have some work to do, that’s for sure, but they have gotten better there. There’s been really good plays. There’s been really good snaps. There’s been great flashes, been good practices. But there’s also been stuff that we have to get better at.
“So I think it’s probably the natural progression of where we are. We always want to be moving along faster though.”
Carson Hinzman and Victor Cutler are vying to replace Wypler while Tegra Tshabola and Zen Michalski are the competitors at right tackle.
“I think there’s been good things, but to say that we’re where we’re sitting right now, can I say those guys are the starters moving into the preseason? Can’t do that.
“We would like to say that, but they’re not there. So there is a lot of work to be done here in the next few months.”
Josh Fryar entered the spring as the front-runner at left tackle, but Day is not ready to anoint him yet, either.
“He’s getting there,” Day said of Fryar. “I can’t sit here and tell you he’s got it locked down just yet. You know, making the transition to left is different. I think Josh certainly has the ability to do it. You can see it on film, that for him, it’s just the consistency of doing it over and over again.
“It’s very different when you’re the starter and you got to do it over an extended period of time than just do it once or twice. He has the ability he showed he can do it this spring. If he can just increase the consistency then he will lock it down.”
Ohio State Spring Game, Noon, BTN