One of the main questions surrounding the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes football team has to do with the secondary. With the losses of Bradley Roby and C.J. Barnett, it shouldn’t come as a shock that there’s a bit of uncertainty with the unit.
It also shouldn’t come as a shock then that ESPN’s resident Big Ten expert Adam Rittenberg recently tabbed returning cornerback Doran Grant as the second most indispensable player on the team, next to Braxton Miller, of course.
I considered putting offensive tackle Taylor Decker or one of the returning linebackers, but Ohio State’s secondary is the group undoubtedly in the spotlight when the season kicks off. The departures of cornerback Bradley Roby and safety C.J. Barnett leave Grant as the only full-time starter back from the 2013 team. Grant is Ohio State’s only returning defender to start in all 14 games last season, and he recorded 58 tackles, three interceptions, 10 pass breakups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. He moves into Roby’s role on the boundary and will cover the top opposing wideouts this season. New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash identified Grant and safety Tyvis Powell as two obvious leaders coming out of the spring. Although Ohio State has several young, talented defensive backs, Grant’s presence looms large as the secondary tries to rebound this year.
Of course some would argue that maybe, if we’re going to look to the defensive side of the ball for indispensable players, that Joey Bosa or Michael Bennett should get the nod.
However, with the way the Big Ten Conference is continually moving toward a more pass-happy league, someone with the attributes of Grant simply can’t be replaced.