Ohio State Football position previews 2024: Defensive Backs

The Ohio State football team returns virtually their entire 2023 roster in the secondary and has added even more talent.

Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke
Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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This is the second in a series of articles that I will be submitting as position group rankings of the 2024 Ohio State football team, from least concerning to most, based on my perceptions. These articles will conclude the week of the 2024 Ohio State Spring Game, scheduled for 1 pm ET on April 13th. As always, I encourage you to let me know what you think and let me know if you believe I have missed anything key in my analysis.

9th - Wide Receivers

8th - Defensive Backs

Players Lost: Jyaire Brown (via transfer portal to LSU), Cameron Martinez (via transfer portal to Boston College), Josh Proctor (eligibility ended + 2024 NFL Draft), Kye Stokes (via transfer portal to Cincinnati), Ryan Turner (via transfer portal to Boston College)

Players Returning: Jayden Bonsu, Denzel Burke, Ja'Had Carter, Jordan Hancock, Malik Hartford, Cedrick Hawkins, Davison Igbinosun, Jermaine Mathews, Jr., Lathan Ransom, Calvin Simpson-Hunt, Lorenzo Styles, Jr., Sonny Styles

Player Arriving Via The Transfer Portal: Caleb Downs (from Alabama)

Freshmen Participating In 2024 Spring Practices: Miles Lockhart, Jaylen McClain, Aaron Scott, Bryce West

Freshman Arriving In Summer 2024: Leroy Roker

Why This Ranking?

Similar to what I wrote about with regards to the wide receiver position group for Ohio State, the Buckeyes are loaded at the defensive back position. Ohio State lost Jyaire Brown, Cameron Martinez, Kye Stokes, and Ryan Turner to the transfer portal back in December (thanks to all of them for their contributions to Ohio State football, and best of luck to all of these players at their new schools as they continue their playing careers), and the depth for the position group took a hit.

The Buckeyes were then fortuitously blessed when projected starters such as Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock, and Lathan Ransom all announced their intentions to return for the 2024 season. In essence, Ohio State was gifted back their starting secondary from the 2023 season.

The true thunderbolt of great news that shook the college football world was when Caleb Downs, a freshman All-American who Ohio State had desperately tried to land as a recruit in 2023, entered the transfer portal and decided to become a Buckeye.

Will Sonny Styles Remain At Safety?

As talented as Sonny Styles is, his best position may be at linebacker, and it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Styles is moved there this spring. Listed by Ohio State at 6'4", 230 lbs., Styles is already at linebacker size, and will probably be playing that position eventually in the NFL. Why not make the move now in 2024?

If Styles does move to linebacker, the Ohio State football team can project to play Caleb Downs and Lathan Ransom at the safety positions, with Jordan Hancock, Denzel Burke, and Davison Igbinosun projected at the cornerback positions. Even new Ohio State linebackers coach James Laurinaitis recently stated that Styles can fluctuate between playing safety or outside linebacker, and it will be worthwhile to use this spring to best utilize Styles' talents.

What About The Rotation?

As I wrote above, and what has become a constant theme of the Ohio State football roster, it will be imperative that the defensive backs are rotating continually throughout the upcoming 2024 season. Yes, Ohio State has an impressive abundance of talent, but so many of those aforementioned players, such as Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock, Davison Igbinosun, and Lathan Ransom will be, or could decide to be, in their final years of eligibility.

Ohio State did a decent job of rotating players like Malik Hartford, Jermaine Mathews, Jr., and Calvin Simpson-Hunt into game action as freshmen in 2023, but Ohio State secondary coaches Tim Walton and Matt Guerrieri need to keep as many players happy and healthy for 2024.

Considering this is the first year of the expanded College Football Playoff, the Buckeyes cannot afford any players to be ill-prepared if these guys are called upon in crucial game action for Ohio State to be among the contenders for the national championship.

Next. Next story. Ohio State to play in historic baseball stadium. dark

With a relatively weak non-conference schedule, the Ohio State football team has the luxury of playing so many of their backups in the first month of the season, and can then determine what type of redshirt seasons should be established, if any at all.