Ohio State football: Ryan Watts pushing for playing time

The Ohio State football team had a secondary that got burned time and time again last season. A new face is trying to push for playing time.

The Ohio State Football secondary will look to rebound this season after surrendering 303.6 passing yards per game last season. At the cornerback position, the only real lock to start is Sevyn Banks. There are two starting cornerback positions up for grabs, one on the outside opposite of Banks and one in the slot. For outside cornerback, Cameron Brown and Ryan Watts look to be battling to start alongside Banks.

Brown is coming off a torn Achilles and was limited in the spring. Brown’s limited time opened an opportunity for other corners to step up. Watts, the 6-foot-3 203-pound redshirt Freshman corner, seized the opportunity by impressing this offseason. The battle for the open outside corner position between Brown and Watts will be a key battle to watch.

Watts’ rise in Ohio State’s depth chart has been extremely impressive. He was redshirted last season and was a third-string. Now as a redshirt Freshman, Watts has made a huge jump and should at least be in Ohio State’s two-deep roster.

Further, he was not a prominent five-star recruit out of high school. Instead, Watts was a four-star ranked 202nd nationally and 18th at his position. Watts’ offseason jump truly came out of nowhere and has been a pleasant surprise.

As a recruit, Watts was actually ranked as a safety due to his size. Watts is very big for a cornerback, but Ohio State always viewed the talented defensive back as a corner. Kerry Coombs, the Ohio State Football team’s Defensive Coordinator, even said Watts is the tallest corner he’s ever coached,

He is tall. He is the tallest corner that I’ve ever coached, but he is able to transition his body in short-space quickness. He’s got long speed. Because of his length, I think getting his hands on wide receivers at the line of scrimmage will be of paramount importance to him. He has the ability to have range in zone.

Sometimes when you have that big wingspan, you can get your hands on balls.

Starting Watts would give the Buckeyes a lengthy, physical cornerback on the outside. Due to his size, it will be interesting to see if Watts could keep up with some speedy receivers. However, his length should allow him to make up for a lack of quickness at times.

If Watts beats Brown for the starting spot, he may have some growing pains due to inexperience. With time, Watts could develop into an elite lockdown corner. Being able to play cornerback with Watts’ size is an athletic gift that is rare. In various situations, Watts size could cause receivers all kinds of problems.

For example, a clip emerged of Watts smothering Garrett Wilson in practice on a goal-line fade.  Even with Watts’ good coverage, Wilson still made the play but the problem Watts’ size creates can still be seen.

Overall, young cornerbacks developing for the Ohio State football team is the step in the right direction for improving the secondary. Watts is on a rising trajectory that could lead him to a starting spot. Competition during the offseason is healthy,  young players like Watts pushing for playing time is a win in itself.